Notes: TriStar.
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

Summary: 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 of "Ahh."

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 flashes.

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 live 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 witnesses one 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 (1976)-style, slow 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.

Commentary: 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 abuse.

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!

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