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over 40 years ago , a japanese production company called toho introduced the land of the rising sun to gojira , a reptilian creature of immense proportions created by mankind's nuclear testing .
partly flight of fancy , partly commentary on the exploitation of atomic power and weaponry , gojira emerged from the ocean to terrorize tokyo .
a year later , gojira was marketed to the united states by adding three things : a new name , a dubbed english track , and raymond burr .
as godzilla , the film took on the rest of the world .
thirty years later , toho remade the classic film and once again took it to the american market by adding the same three things ( yes , including raymond burr ) and called it godzilla 1985 .
now it's 14 years after toho's remake , and director roland emmerich has allowed the giant lizard to make an american first run .
in emmerich's godzilla , matthew broderick plays dr . niko tatopoulos , a biologist who is called in to join other scientists in the south pacific already studying the existence of a radiation-induced super mutant which leaves footprints the size of livingrooms .
when the mutant reptile suddenly appears out of the hudson river , tatopoulos and the rest of the team relocate themselves back to the states .
meanwhile , tatopoulos's college girlfriend , audrey timmonds ( maria pitillo ) , works in new york city as an assistant to a big-time news reporter .
she'd like to be a reporter herself , and when godzilla comes ashore , she figures this is her big break .
of course , with the big guy running amok in the city , niko and audrey are bound to cross paths , and are joined by victor " animal " palotti ( hank azaria ) , audrey's trusty cameraman friend , and phillipe roche ( jean reno ) , an operative for the french government , whose nuclear testing started the whole problem in the first place .
together they attempt to find and destroy the surprisingly elusive godzilla .
with the resources of the most cutting edge special effects houses and the clout of one of the nation's premiere movie production companies , one would think emmerich could make a film truly deserving of the name godzilla .
he didn't .
right up there with the lost world , godzilla is one of the biggest disappointments in recent cinematic history .
the plot is pretty much what we expect : the big dinosaur-like creature comes out of the water and starts smashing new york city , and it's up to our heroes to figure out why this thing is on its rampage and how it can be stopped , while the military makes futile attempts to bring the creature down .
the script , however , is painfully bad .
it's fraught with lines so corny , they don't even belong in b-movies , and includes many character actions which make you think , " you idiot , " or " you stupid girl . "
i suppose when you've got a movie with a giant lizard loose in new york , any other semblance of reality goes out the window as well .
why is it that godzilla topples some buildings by merely brushing against them , but is conveniently able to leap atop others ?
why do helicopters have to follow godzilla by flying dangerously between buildings where they can lose sight of him , when they could more easily keep track of him by flying a little higher and in a straight line ?
why do sidewinder missiles , which have small explosive warheads , blow up entire buildings when they miss godzilla ?
why is a mission to bomb madison square garden carried out by three f-18 fighter-bombers , when flights of such aircraft are always comprised of multiples of two ?
okay , maybe the last one was a bit nit-picky , but hey , i was on a roll .
broderick is usually a good actor , but in this film he's weighed down by an unexciting character and an atrocious screenplay which seem to fight against him every step of the way .
hank azaria does what he can , but don't expect to see development of any of the promise he showed in the birdcage .
like broderick's , azaria's character is quite simply lacking in color .
what really annoyed me was maria pitillo , who actually takes the bad script and makes it worse with her acting .
casting must have been asleep on this one .
the one bright spot here is jean reno , who oddly enough seems to fit well into a role which is often comedic , quite unlike what we've seem him do in the past .
although his character is contradictory to the unfolding disaster , reno brings a style to the role of phillipe which makes him enjoyable .
unfortunately , the same cannot be said of the other incongruities .
the entire feel of the movie is tongue-in-cheek , and seems to pay comical homage to a dozen or so films that have come before it .
this results in a significant amount of parody , which contrasts sharply with the threat of the monster , and ends up just producing a mess .
most of the characters seem to be there for comic relief , and almost none are smart enough for the audience to take seriously .
although emmerich obviously wanted to make a fun action picture , what good is it to sink millions into a cgi creature whose ferocity is undermined by the humans he threatens ?
if we can't take the characters seriously , the threat they face is an empty one because we simply don't care what happens to them .
godzilla simply pulls too many punches in its attempt to be a film more light-hearted than it should be .
far be it from me to want to see more carnage in the theaters , but here's a behemoth running through the city !
there's bound to be a lot of casualties , but instead godzilla is afflicted with the after-school g . i .
joe cartoon syndrome , where almost everyone seems to get out of harm's way just in time .
in a couple of scenes , godzilla briefly breathes fire .
none of the characters even remark upon this ability , nor is it used to any particular advantage by the filmmakers .
it's as if the special effects people just wanted to show that yes , godzilla can do this , just like in the old movie .
consider another punch pulled .
through creative script writing , you can make a sequel out of just about any movie , but the final scene in this one doesn't just leave the door open , it opens into a hallway leading directly into a room where godzilla ii is waiting patiently .
it made me want to gag .
emmerich should have done away with 90% of the humor and in-jokes and played this one as a straight action film .
with an intelligently written screenplay , godzilla could have been so much more .
however , by confusing the viewer with a ton of add-ins and parodies , the movie ends up being something that just doesn't work .
now if they only had raymond burr . . . .