by MP Bartley
I suspect that this years forthcoming release of Peter Jackson's 'King Kong' will make Roland Emmerich blush and shuffle his shoes guiltily. Because you would think that making a film about a huge, semi-mystical creature rampaging through a city would be pretty hard to mess up, wouldn't you? Proving that Emmerich can always be relied upon to pull it out of the bag when you least want him to.So, 'Godzilla' then. A titanic, fire breathing lizard attacks New York. Where could it go wrong? After all, Emmmerich displays his skill at crafting intriguing openings again here. Scientists realising that they're stood in a huge claw-print left by Godzilla, the survivors of an attacked boat crying out in a delerium, a neat 'Jaws' riff with two fisherman...great stuff. If only Emmerich could have called someone in to finish his movies off for him.
"For those whose brains weren't sufficiently insulted by 'Independence Day'"
He also makes the mistake of not even considering his casting. Okay, they may have been lumbered with a terrible script in 'Independence Day' but at least Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum have some sort of compelling chutzpah and charisma to them, to alleviate the pain. But here, you have Jean Reno providing the laziest, smuggest turn as a Frenchman ever (and you would think he would know better seeing as he's, er, French) who knows a lot about Godzilla (because Godzilla is a famous French creation isn't he?). You also have Matthew Broderick, forever known as Ferris Bueller who never did anything of note ever again. If he wasn't married to the horse from 'Sex and the City' no-one would even know who he was now. Actually, people still don't know who he is now, but, hey, at least he gets to go to premieres and fashion shows with SJP.
You have Hank Azaria prostituting himself for an easy pay-cheque, and then there's Maria Pittilio as the romantic lead. Pittilo, who is hewn from the same wood that constructed a thousand bedside cabinets. A quick scan at imdb reveals that after 'Godzilla' she's made the grand total of...three films. I haven't heard of any of them, and neither will you. Maria, if you're reading...there's a reason for this. Just think about it.
But of course, no-one is watching 'Godzilla' to see who they'd pick to play Inspector Gadget, we're watching to see a huge, fire breathing lizard, create some HAVOC! And, oh my, how Emmerich messed it up. Firstly, as any decent director will tell you, the point of a creature feature (for want of a better term) is to engender sympathy for the creature, be it King Kong, Frankenstein's monster or the wolf man. So when they meet their inevitable, sticky end, the audience is torn into having ironic feelings about it: "Oh, I feel sorry for this poor creature who may have maimed and killed several people, but never wanted to be brought here anyway". What you do not do, Roland, is turn it into a pointless, CGI money shot. And while any casual film fan can probably instantly recall what the Japanese Godzilla looks like, can anyone actually recall what Emmerich's version looks like?
No? Exactly. Probably because Emmerich has no idea of how to create such a creature. So, one minute he's rampaging through the city, the next he's, er, hiding and, umm, no-one can find him. That's right, Godzilla hides and no-one can work out where. Just let the utter stupidity of that sentence sink in and work its magic on you.
So while you may think that a fight between Godzilla and a fleet of helicopters would be something to savour, it's ruined with dingy cinematography, bad CGI and a clear lack of vision of what Godzilla should even friggin' look like.
Instead, Emnmerich floods the screen with bad, goofy slapstick humour, that drains the last remnants of suspense or atmosphere that the film may have had in the first place. We get a painful sequence of baby Godzillas that looks like a bad audition for the then yet-to-be-directed 'Jurassic Park 3'.
So if you'd told me that a climax, featuring Godzilla chasing a tazi through the streets and grabbing it in his jaws would have bored me senseless, I'd have called you a liar and challenged you to a duel. But, no, you'd be right, and I apologise profusely.Ultimately, 'Godzilla' is a lesson to be learnt. Not to spend money on crappy Emmerich films ever again? No, silly, like most of their creations just let the Japanese do it and let's not try to rip them off. After all, they know best.
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originally posted: 11/11/05 07:01:07