produced by the dorks who did Independence Day
starring computerized special effects, Matthew Broderick, Harry Shearer, some other people
Rated PG-13 (why? I have no idea.)
As if New York City doesn’t have enough problems, here comes a giant lizard, determined to eat lots of fish and to lay its eggs at 34th Street and Broadway.
That’s the film in a nutshell. I’m sure by the middle of June, the entire plot, including the ending, will be given away by gonzo movie reviewers in the newspapers, so I won’t bother. What I will tell you, though, are my thoughts on this new version of Godzilla, and that Matthew Broderick and I have the same birthday.
I guess I was six years old when I was first exposed to Godzilla. My mother and I stayed up very late one night and watched the original Americanized version on Sir Graves Ghastly’s show on Channel 9, back in the dark ages of 1969. I was terrified, but my mom assured me that the destruction wrought by the King of the Monsters was simply stock footage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which, of course, allowed me to sleep better. To this day, I shake with fear whenever I hear his famous bellow. I really do! I even tremble when I hear Blue Oyster Cult’s song “Godzilla!” That movie scared the living pooh-pooh out of me, a scar I will carry to my grave.
Of course, it didn’t help that I became addicted to monster movies, catching all the Godzilla films, movies like Gorgo (yes, I know Gorgo is British — it’s great, too) and Gamera — anything starring a guy dressed up in a ridiculous rubber monster suit and lots of destruction. See, the monster suit is what made Godzilla so scary. Sure, as an 18-year old I’d have no business soiling my undies seeing a rubber-suited “lizard” coming up over a mountain. But for a 9-year old it’s a different story. Since I had no friends while growing up, my playmates were the monsters Ultraman fought, or Godzilla, Mothra, — all the Japanese monsters. I was enthralled by giant monsters that would destroy entire cities just for kicks. I lived for Ultraman at 3 PM on Channel 20! As I grew older, during the late 1970s and all through the 1980s, monster movies somehow seemed to be a thing of the past. TV stations weren’t showing them — at least wherever I happened to be. Finally, with the dawn of the 1990s and “500 channels!” I figured that someone would launch a “Godzilla” channel so I could watch Tokyo get destroyed over and over again. Also, I like “Asian” women, and well — you get the idea (the Mothra girls — woof!).
So, that’s the quick dirt on my relationship with Godzilla. Notice I DO NOT refer to him as “Big G” or anything “cute” or “cheesy.” To me, Godzilla represents a beast beyond imagination, something with the righteousness to punish mankind simply because he is bigger than everyone else and hates everything; a Bowl of Wrath from the Book of Revelation. Godzilla, to me, is a corrective instrument, restoring order; he is the Fist of God.
In this new version, “Godzilla” appears to be a mutated Komodo dragon or marine iguana. “He” only attacks ships when in search of food, and doesn’t appear to hate anyone; he’s simply looking for a place to nest. When “Godzilla” destroys New York, there isn’t any sadness. Heck, New Yorkers look upon it as more of a nuisance rather than some devastating tragedy. When Godzilla first destroyed Tokyo, there were prayers said, there was much weeping and despair, people were killed, children were left parentless, lives were destroyed. In this new scenario, all the mayor of New York wants is the thing to be killed so he can go back to being mayor. There’s no call for repentance, no thoughts of “what are we being punished for?” no turning to God or anything spiritual. The whole thing’s a joke! The monster is “small” enough to hide between buildings, which means he’s not that imposing after all. The Long Island Expressway is spared (darn!), the East Village is untouched, no one is seen screaming in agonizing death, and “Godzilla” doesn’t make his famous sound! (Well, I could barely hear it!) King of the Monsters? This overgrown Tree Chicken would take one look at Mothra and have an involuntary bowel movement!
OK, so Matthew Broderick plays a biologist working for the Atomic Energy Commission, and he does a good job of playing a very intelligent, witty, and somewhat heroic character. (Actually, he acts like a real scientist.) There’s some military people who are sort of smart, but pretty much bungle things. The newsmedia are portrayed as scum, sort of. And they all get together and try to stop “Godzilla” from beating up Manhattan Island.
And, yeah, that’s it. Frankly, this new film is like listening to Black Sabbath without Ozzy singing. It’s metal, but it’s not Black Sabbath.
No, that’s not it! I can’t live with myself and not condemn this film as a False Godzilla! The computer special effects are boring, and to be honest with you, half the film is a blatant swipe of Jurassic Park. They swiped a bit from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, too. “Godzilla” hardly destroyed shit! So he plows through the Met Life building, big deal, did anyone die? Were mothers and wives running through the streets screaming and carrying their dying babies and husbands? No! This wasn’t divine punishment! This was Paul Bunyan’s new pet escaping from the cage for a day on the town! And, worst of all, there weren’t any cute Japanese babes! Bring back the guy in the rubber suit! Worst of all was having to sit in a crowded theater in Times Square full of drooling idiots who clapped every time the “monster” blinked an eye! These new people, who turned their noses up at the Japanese monster films are worse than pro-wrestling converts! Death to False Godzilla! Hell, the trailer for the new Zorro was better!