Nick Tatopoulos: Matthew Broderick
Audrey Timmons: Maria Pitillo
Philippe Roaché: Jean Reno
Charles Caiman: Harry Shearer
Screenplay: Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich
Directed: Roland Emmerich
Rusty orange tinted footage nostalgically recalls for us South
Pacific atom bomb testing with footage of iguanas interspersed.
The Holy Choir of Nuclear Explosion kicks in with a rousing edition
We see sumo wrestling on tv and fish-guttings
aboard ship. An uproar has sailors screaming and knives (Ginsu,
presumably) falling about. The ship is destroyed and only one
old man survives, radioactive and repeating "Gojira."
Nick Tatopoulos of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
drives to Chernobyl, singing "Singing in the Rain" until
long after we first want to kick him. He draws worms out of the
soil, worms which we'll later learn are 17% larger than normal.
A helicopter lands and he is abruptly reassigned, first to Panama
where giant footprints have been discovered. At the beach, a
shipwreck includes Bumblebee Tuna cans and some suspicious Frenchmen
who claim to be insurance agents.
Three fishing trawlers are pulled under the
sea, which leads Nick to insist that such a creature would be
"too big to be a lost dinosaur"; rather, it must be
a "mutated aberration" and we're witnessing the "dawn
of a new species."
Audrey, who works on a New York City news show
for sleazy anchorman Charles Caiman (note the last name), is told
by her co-worker and that woman's husband "Animal" who
himself is a photographer for the show that NYC is "dog eat
dog." Audrey worries that she should be more aggressive.
She sees Nick on tv and declares that he was her "college
sweetie." It's been eight years, so one would think she'd
act older than 15.
At the NYC docks, men unload seafood crates.
An old fisherman catches something enormous: Gojira emerges and
tears through the city. Caiman misses sighting the creature as
Barney the Dinosaur plays on tv in the background. Manhattan
is evacuated. Nick strategizes a big fish dumping to lure the
creature out into the open. Gojira appears and comes face to
face with Nick. He breathes fire sparingly and evades the military,
who announce, "We need bigger guns," and whose missiles
destroy the Chrysler Building. A scene from The Beast From
20,000 Fathoms plays during a theft interrupted by the giant
lizard. All military copters are chomped. Gojira roars and lightning
Audrey meets up with Nick who is purchasing
home pregnancy tests. When he discovers that Gojira has probably
asexually reproduced and laid eggs, she has her opportunity to
steal his wisely-labelled "Top Secret" videotape of
the old man from the original shipwreck. She prepares a story
but Caiman steals it, announcing "Godzilla." "It's
Gojira, you moron!"
The miltary blames "the worm guy"
Nick, boots him from their meetings, and prefers to ignore his
warnings about a possible nest. The French guy, Philippe, kidnaps
Nick and claims that the French want to clean up the mess they
made in the South Pacific (the altruistic secret police)!
"Animal" the photographer and Audrey
follow Nick and the French in their subterranean nest search.
Godzilla crawls iguana-like. Another military attack forces
the animal into the Hudson River where the Navy ends up destroying
its own subs until Godzilla is hit and presumably killed.
In the wreckage of Madison Square Garden, the
explorers find over 200 eggs which begin hatching before the French
can blow them up. The French are picked off by ravenous reptiles
one by one during phone and elevator drama. Audrey is able to provide a
broadcast of the problem, including an interview with Nick who threatens
that these animals "could replace us as the dominant species
on this planet." The military must blow up the area. Jurassic Park dynamics get the four
survivors (Nick, Audrey, Animal, and Philippe) to the streets of New York
before the explosions begin. But Godzilla emerges from the wreckage and
of its dead babies. It tears after the four who steal a cab.
At one point, the cab ends up in the mouth of the creature.
"We're in his mouth!" Nick uses an electrical cable
on the inside of the mouth to escape this moment. Crossing the
Brooklyn Bridge in pursuit, Godzilla is netted by the cables and
fired at, King Kong-style, until he
collapses and slowly dies. We hear the heartbeat, King Kong
to a stop and the light go out of the animal's eye.
As inappropriate as after the O.J. trial, uproarious
cheering begins. Soldiers are commended by superiors and everyone
says Woo. Philippe stole Animal's videotape to censor himself
out, and Nick and Audrey are reunited. Back at the Madison Square
Garden wreckage, one final egg hatches.
New York City seems the most unlikely breeding grounds for a
creature supposedly emerging from the South Pacific! The earth
contains lots of islands with less concrete. But at least this
film, like King Kong (1933) and unlike
The Lost World: Jurassic Park, has a
"monster" destroying a worthwhile city with real landmarks to
If a "dinosaur" film is going to
plagiarize, then at least King Kong (1933)
is a good source to lift from. Evocation of moments from The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and King
Kong (1976) work well enough. But the substantial Star Wars
theft during the helicopter chase is inexcusable.
Godzilla works and looks best when resembling
and moving like an iguana. Its Jay Leno jaw is the only unpleasant
addition. Despite the vile final inappropriate Woo, moments of
clear sympathy for the creature are effective, and it's not difficult
to side entirely with Godzilla--in fact, the movie is difficult
in some respects for iguana-owners. I have no problem, unlike
"Animal," about the loss of Madison Square Garden.
The creature left the Met alone and didn't travel north to the
Cloisters. In fact, humans deserve their extinction since they
are still seeing existence as a matter of being the "dominant
species on this planet."
And (see my Dinosaur-Dragon
Abstract) we get some hell-mouth dynamics here!