The 1998 monster film missed a golden opportunity to create a franchise.
Death Dealer | Daily Girth
If there was ever a movie that was a guaranteed hit, it was 1998’s “Godzilla.” This was a franchise that couldn’t miss. The hype surrounding it meant big bucks.
So how did this film fail?
A variety of reasons doomed this tentpole flick. From the script to the star to Godzilla himself, there is a ton of blame to go around.
These are the top reasons Sony dicked this movie up. It could have been an all-time great.
Godzilla Was Completely Disrespected
One thing any monster movie fan knows is that Godzilla is simply indestructible. Godzilla was created as a result of nuclear testing so a living force such as this monster would be pretty much unkillable.
Big G has met his demise through unique ways: high-powered monsters, volcanoes and in the original movie — a true classic — he was offed using a fictional biological weapon called the Oxygen Destroyer.
The military is completely useless. To Godzilla, these weapons are about as bothersome as mosquitoes to humans. The kind that don’t kill you.
Imagine the insult to see Godzilla run away from the military in the 1998 incarnation. The shame! And in the end, what killed the mighty monster? Missiles from fucking helicopters.
Not only would this not kill Godzilla, it would have a miniscule effect. This was true laziness right here. It’s like the writers thought, “Let’s have him get stuck in the bridge then we can shoot him with missiles. High-powered missiles.”
Unless those missiles are atomic bombs, forget it.
Where Was Ghidrah?
Securing the rights to Godzilla was an epic task that Sony somehow pulled off with the aid of $10 million. It seemed like a sound investment.
Usually books, movies or toy franchises cost some big bucks, but in 1998, $10 million was a high price. Toho Studios, the company that owned the rights to Godzilla and all of the movie monsters in the series, wanted major greenbacks for its other marquee beasts such as Mothra and Godzilla’s nemesis, Ghidrah.
Godzilla had fought against other high-profile behemoths (MechaGozilla, Gigan), but his, along with many of the other monster’s, major adversary had been Ghidrah.
Ghidrah was a fearsome beast with three dragon-like heads. Each of them could shoot electricity from their mouths and it could fly. The monster was huge, dwarfing even the massive Godzilla. It resembled something out of the Book of Revelation.
This would have been the perfect opponent for Godzilla and it would have given the film true street cred among the diehard Toho fans.
But Toho wanted another $10 million for Ghidrah, which would push the production cost to $20 million even before a director, writer and star were put into the budget.
Speaking of stars, nothing can derail a movie more than having a weak main character. Godzilla, which could have been the biggest, highest grossing movie ever made, decided to go the weak route.
Which led to a major problem:
Matthew Broderick Was Not A Leading Man
I was really hyped when I heard “Godzilla” would be coming out in the late 90s. That hype faded rather quickly when I heard Matthew fucking Broderick would be the star.
Honestly, what the fuck were they thinking? Inspector Gadget couldn’t carry a movie of this magnitude. Ferris Bueller couldn’t take on Godzilla.
A big-budget movie needs a big-name star and Matthew Broderick isn’t one. This film needed someone with balls, a commanding presence, someone like Will Smith or Tom Cruise. Maybe Tom Hanks. Mel Gibson. Bruce Willis. Any of these guys would have done.
The rest of the cast was terrible as well. With the exception of Jean Reno (who could have been a little more bad ass, something closer to his role in “The Professional”), the casting was piss poor. Three voice actors from “The Simpsons” and a no-name actress who was cute, were also main characters, but had no business in a Hollywood blockbuster.
Invest some money. Put a little effort into cast choices.
Speaking of effort …
The Script Was Terrible
Sony had good intentions when it first developed this movie. Director Jan de Bont (“Speed” and “Twister”) was tapped to helm the film. The screenwriting duo Ted Elliot and Terry Rosio (“Aladdin,” “Shrek”) were hired to pen a script.
I have read the script and it was incredible. The special effects were going to be big-time. Godzilla was supposed to fight another monster, which easily could have been switched with Ghidrah if the rights had been secured.
In the version I read, Ghidrah wasn’t featured, but it was still a phenomenal read. The budget was set to be around $120 million. When Sony told de Bont he couldn’t spend that kind of dough, he walked.
Rosio, Elliot and de Bont were out. Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich were in, which seemed like a good hire. They were the masterminds behind “Independence Day,” an excellent popcorn flick featuring Will Smith and a host of others who band together to fight back against an alien invasion.
The duo half assed the “Godzilla” script in a couple of weeks. The film didn’t know what the fuck was what. Emmerich wasn’t even a fan of the “Godzilla” series; he only took the project because he was told he could do what he wanted with this movie.
You know why the original “Spider-Man” was so successful? Director Sam Raimi loved the franchise and worked his ass off to make it a quality film. Raimi made two sequels.
What about other properties? “Batman”? “Harry Potter?” “Superman?” “Transformers?”
Let’s make Batman wear white. Harry Potter should be a knight. Superman gets hurt by being punched in the jaw by humans (without the assistance of Kryptonite). Transformers are robots the size of bugs.
Does any of this make sense?
So why should Godzilla run away from gunfire like a big pussy, not breathe fire and behave like a loose animal rather than the devastating behemoth that he is?
James Cameron (“Terminator,” “Titanic”), Tim Burton (“The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Batman”) and Paul Verhoeven (“Robocop,” “Total Recall”) were mentioned as possible directors, which would have been fine had they stuck to the original script.
Screw that 1998 piece of shit.
Gareth Edwards has redeemed my faith with a strong adaptation of Godzilla. It’s so good, a sequel has already been planned. This could have been the case 16 years ago. Way to go, Ferris fucking Bueller and “Independence Day” makers.