Updated: March 28, 2021 9:07:27 am
It is that time of the year again — of popcorn movies and possibly, theatres. The latest iteration in the Godzilla franchise, Godzilla vs Kong is out, and it seems like the perfect time to revisit the first Godzilla movie I had seen in a cinema hall — the Roland Emmerich directorial titled Godzilla, which released in 1998. Barely seven, I remember feeling awed looking up at the screen. For a long time, I was petrified of water, imagining a Godzilla-like creature emerging out of my toilet and wash basins.
All those feelings have become memories that I can still tap into, but let’s just put it this way — Godzilla has not aged well. In fact, upon googling the movie, I realised that not many critics were a fan of the film even at the time of its release. And rightly so. While the film, which stars Matthew Broderick and Hank Azaria, has a few great action sequences, the visual effects are not the best. And they pale in comparison to modern CG. But, the VFX is still a forgivable aspect, considering the time the movie had released, what is laughable is the plot and the writing in general, be it screenplay or dialogues.
Because you are creating a ‘monster movie’, you cannot forgo all the other aspects of filmmaking. At the end of the day, Godzilla is not a silent movie. You need something to drive the narrative forward, and the destruction of a city, and the military vs the Godzilla angle was certainly not enough to keep someone in their seat for over two hours. What is admirable about the film is the beginning, which takes time to build, and that visual which I can never get out of my head — of Godzilla rising from the sea. The outline of a big black beast slowly coming to the surface under the blue sky. Brilliant. But what next?
The rest of the film was a mindless blur; cheesy, with no emotional connect and as a soldier in the film says, leaving a zero to “negative impact” on the audience’s mind. Usually, people assume that popcorn movies, or these so-called ‘monster movies’ don’t need any story, that the effects will work its magic. And sure, that is true to a certain extent, but there has to be some kind of connection apart from that of the superficial VFX one. A solid backstory always helps to make those creases smoother. For instance, it looks like the newly released Godzilla film has a backstory of an ancient war between the species of the these mutant lizards and the apes. The promo leaves room for suspense, something more to be found out. But in the 1998 movie’s case, there was nothing to look forward to. And yes, I remember the 200 eggs Godzilla laid in the end, but even that was not enough.
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Here’s hoping that future monster movies are better made, with a decent enough screenplay to keep things from falling flat.
You can watch Godzilla on Netflix.
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