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Film / Godzilla (1998)

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"Size does matter."

Godzilla is a 1998 American remake film of the Japanese film of the same name and the first feature-length Godzilla film to be made by an American team. It was co-written and directed by Roland Emmerich, director of Independence Day and Stargate, and starred Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria and Kevin Dunn. The film was released on May 20, 1998, by TriStar Pictures.

The film follows the attacks of the titular creature on Manhattan, following his apparent creation via radioactive fallout from atomic bomb testing decades before. The film follows the attacks, beginning with the off-shore attack of a Japanese fishing vessel and culminating in a confrontation of Godzilla and the American military in the Big Apple. As all this is happening, an American scientist, his Intrepid Reporter love interest and their friends team up with French secret agents to examine the creature's behavior more closely and find a way to keep it from bringing even greater disaster upon mankind.


The film spawned an animated sequel called Godzilla: The Series. While it was intended to spawn a new franchise in the United States, the movie was not deemed successful enough to warrant another sequel. Ironically, it instead renewed Toho's interest in the franchise, which had actually ended with Godzilla vs. Destoroyah in anticipation of the American franchise, launching the Millennium series started by Godzilla 2000. The events of another Millennium movie, Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack!, actually reference this one as being canon... Which curiously makes this film a Stealth Sequel to the 1954 original in that regard, since G.M.K. is also direct sequel to that movie. The film's version of Godzilla was later renamed "Zilla" by Toho and pitted against the Japanese Godzilla in Godzilla: Final Wars, in which Godzilla destroyed his American counterpart in thirteen seconds without breaking a sweat.


For the original Japanese film, see Godzilla (1954) (along with the American re-edit, Godzilla: King of the Monsters!, and the Italian re-edit, Cozzilla). For the 1984 direct sequel, see The Return of Godzilla. For the second American-made One-Word Title Godzilla film, see Godzilla (2014).

Tropes associated with this work:

  • Acrophobic Bird: The helicopter pilots seem to always stay at mouth-level of the monster they're attacking, despite the fact that Apaches can fly as high as 20,000 feet above sea level, meaning there was no reason for them to be flying that low to begin with.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: Downplayed example. While still born from nuclear testing, this version of Godzilla was a regular, modern day iguana mutated by French testing in the mid 90s, rather than a prehistoric reptile that was further mutated in the 50s (by, presumably, American testing).
  • Adaptational Mundanity: The film takes a much more grounded approach to the title monster. Instead of being a nearly indestructible prehistoric beast that managed to survive millions of years beneath the ocean, he's a modern day iguana that was mutated into a coincidentally prehistoric-looking form within his egg by nuclear fallout and is not Immune to Bullets. The atomic breath is also heavily downplayed, with his powerful roar instead blowing up cars and propelling the flames to cause an effect that merely looks like a Breath Weapon.
  • Adaptational Wimp: This is easily the weakest incarnation of Godzilla to date, lacking the ability to shoot atomic breath or withstand assault from the military. This was actually an intentional decision to make him seem more like a giant frightened animal rather than an invincible force of destruction. The real threat comes from Godzilla's ability to produce hundreds of offspring that could potentially flood the world in Godzillas.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Godzilla gets his name from an elderly Japanese fisherman who survived an attack on his fishing ship in the beginning of the film who is asked what attacked his vessel. As this Godzilla is a very recently mutated, modern creature rather a prehistoric beast, it's not made clear where the name came from, since there's no precedence for it now.
    • More specifically, the man believes it to be 'Gojira', a sea monster from a (fictional) Japanese myth. This is actually straight from the 1954 original, where the residents of Odo Island believed the creature to be the same 'Gojira' from legend.
  • Adaptation Inspiration: While the overall plot, nuclear testing releasing a giant reptilian monster that ends up making its way to a major city, is more or less the same as Godzilla (1954), it differs vastly outside of this basic description. While the original Godzilla was portrayed as a nigh unstoppable juggernaut with clear animosity towards mankind, this version is portrayed as a Fragile Speedster without any morality or city-destroying tendencies; it's just an animal trying to survive and reproduce. Additionally, the original Godzilla was an explicit metaphor for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the irradiation of the Lucky Dragon No. 5, as he was specifically mutated by American nuclear testing, while this version pushes the blame to the French and lacks any kind of symbolic depth; it's simply portrayed as how Godzilla came to be. Overall, the film is more of a military-focused action flick than the dark tragedy of the original or even the more fantastical camp of the sequels.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Godzilla is portrayed as a huge, frightened animal, not an engine of destruction. When it finally dies, Nick actually feels sorry for it.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Averted. In keeping with his more animalistic portrayal compared to other incarnations, Godzilla has a visible cloaca, although it's only visible in very brief and dark shots.
  • Animated Adaptation: The resulting animated series, considered by many the best thing to come of the movie.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • The movie claims that heat-seeking missiles can't track Godzilla because, being a giant iguana, he's cold-blooded. An animal as huge as Godzilla would be warm-blooded simply due to the sheer mass of its body making heat take a long time to escape, much like the largest dinosaurs. The process is called gigantothermy and is already seen in animals like large crocodiles and sharks, all of which are shrimp compared to Godzilla.
    • There is no way a human pregnancy test would work on a lizard, much less a giant radioactive lizard, as human (and mammal) pregnancy tests are searching for the presence of a hormone called Chorionic Gonadotrophin, which is only produced in placental animals, as the 'chorion' is another word for the placenta. Reptiles are not placental animals, and do not produce CG. Thus, the test wouldn't work. This is lampshaded when Nick notes that the test shouldn't have worked.
    • Elsie specifying Theropoda Allosaurus is just unbelievable. The evidence gathered has clearly indicated an animal many magnitudes larger than any Allosaurus, which maxed out at around 30 feet in length (Craven lampshades this), to say nothing of Elsie stating Allosaurus died out in the Cretaceous Period. What's more, specifying "Allosaurus" among other similarly-sized theropods is ridiculous, because there's no certain way to distinguish between different theropods within the same size range based on footprint alone. The idea that a paleontologist would say or suggest such a thing is complete nonsense.
    • No 300-foot tall bipedal animal would be able to hold a horizontal position all the time, unless it had really sturdy organs.
    • Godzilla is still referred to with male pronouns even after discovering that "he's" seemingly pregnant and later uncovering the vast egg clutch within Madison Square Garden. The very definition of female is the ability to produce ova, something necessary even for parthenogenetic asexual reproduction (which is specifically reproduction without the need for a male).
    • A more minor example than most, but Godzilla is portrayed as an excellent burrower, despite his huge, protruding dorsal plates (that even curve forward), which is a terrible feature for a digging animal as they would definitely get caught on the underground ceiling when crawling through tunnels.
  • Artistic License – Engineering:
    • When all the destruction from Godzilla's first appearance is looked over, the MetLife building is seen with a huge hole through it, implying that Godzilla somehow jumped through it. It looks cool, but it's still difficult to believe that it would be standing after that, especially with the entire middle section essentially gone. The remaining upper section of the building being held up by the perimeter structural members would have buckled almost immediately.
    • The massive tunnel system Godzilla creates just underneath the streets of Manhattan, and apparently expansive enough that Godzilla is able to pop up anywhere, somehow don't open up huge sinkholes everywhere.
  • Artistic License – Geography: New York doesn't really look like that. Most glaringly, one of the people in the cab says the Brooklyn Bridge is the closest suspension bridge to the Park Avenue Tunnel. The tunnel runs from 33rd Street to 40th Street, and literally every other suspension bridge over the East River is closer.
    • Even more glaring is the first helicopter chase; Manhattan doesn't have extremely high, Coruscant-style corridors of skyscrapers taller than Godzilla that stretch for blocks and blocks.
    • The idea that Godzilla can disappear by burrowing into New York's subway system and sewers is ridiculous; the subway tunnels are not that deep under the streets, with the deepest station being 180 feet underground. Godzilla would have to burrow past the subway tunnels into the ground underneath to remain hidden, as his size would mean he would be disturbing and collapsing the streets and would be easily visible.
    • Godzilla is also shown diving into the Hudson River, where he is engaged by three US Navy submarines. The Hudson River is shallow; it can be anywhere from 32 to 200 feet deep at most depending on location, yet Godzilla is shown swimming well below the surface, and is nowhere close to the bottom as if he were out in the middle of the ocean. There is no way submarines would be able to conduct operations in the Hudson as well.
  • Artistic License – Military: Leaving aside the fact that Sidewinders aren't possible to mount on an Apache, the warheads on Sidewinders are tiny compared to, say, tank shells. They contain only a couple of pounds of explosive, and wouldn't cause Monumental Damage to any building they hit; they would in no way would cause the top of the Chrysler Building to be chopped off, and probably wouldn't hurt Godzilla either. Anti-tank missiles like the Hellfire would be more practical; Sidewinders are designed for small, fast-moving aircraft.
    • Military pilots cannot fire missiles over the United States or any of its territories without the express and direct permission of the President. It's reasonable to assume the president would give it in this scenario, but never explicitly stated.
    • Apaches also don't have a pair of guns bracketing the cockpit; they have a single 30mm chaingun in a chin mount beneath the front of the fuselage. Ironically, attempts WERE made to increase the Apache's air to air capabilities by making it able to launch the Sidewinder, complete with test firings. These were ceased in favor of a modified Stinger missile design (also a heat-seeking design; every Stinger variant after the FIM-92A, including all ATAS variants, uses the same seeker used in the AIM-9X Sidewinder).
    • The Apaches depicted also carry far more weapons than realistically possible; real Apaches have two wing-mounted hardpoints that traditionally carry 70mm Hydra rocket pods on the inner pylons and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles in racks of eight on the outer pylons, with a 30mm M230 chaingun under the nose. The movie Apaches feature longer wings, fitting two sets of Hydra rocket pods on each wing, a Hellfire missile rack with wing-tip mounted Sidewinder missiles and forward facing chainguns under the cockpit windows, with the aforementioned undernose chaingun still there but unused. The film Apaches are also depicted as maneuvering more like jet aircraft, with sharp banking maneuvers while flying straight and flying forwards at high speeds, with multiple helicopters flying around each other with precision.
    • The F/A-18 pilot that destroys Madison Square Garden is shown disengaging master arm and selecting "LGBs" which stand for laser-guided bombs. However he is shown selecting his plane's AGM-84 Harpoon missiles and stating that he has a good laser track on the target. The Harpoon is a radar-guided, anti-ship missile, not laser-guided.
    • The Harpoon missiles that the F/A-18s use are also woefully impractical for destroying a large building, and would not be effective against a large stationary target such as Madison Square Garden, as the Harpoon is designed for anti-ship use. At most it would punch holes in the roof of the building, not outright level it.
    • Harpoons are also not practical for engaging land targets; their seeker heads are designed for use over water, which has minimal obstacles and radar interference. Ground terrain creates a chaotic radar picture, which can confuse a Harpoon's seeker head and lead to tracking issues. A variant of the Harpoon was developed for ground targets, but it didn't enter service until 2000.
    • The F/A-18 squadron leader says to his wingmen before launching his missiles "save your Mavericks", referring to the AGM-65 Maverick air to ground missile. However, when shots of the planes are shown, none of the F/A-18s are shown carrying any such missiles.
    • The lead F/A-18 is the only one that deploys Harpoons to destroy Madison Square Garden, yet without returning to base to resupply, is able to fire two more salvos of Harpoons from his underwing pylons at Godzilla on the Brooklyn Bridge.
    • Navy officers on the submarines that engage Godzilla are shown wearing "SSBN" hats. SSBN is the US Navy designation for a missile submarine, which would be far too big and impractical for operations in the Hudson. A fast attack submarine (SSN) would be more appropriate given the situation.
    • Sergeant O'Neal being in charge of all the field operations against Godzilla and only directly answering to Colonel Hicks, ignoring a very large chain of command and putting a ridiclous amount of responsibility on a mere sergeant commanding thousands of troops, tanks and vehicles.
    • The debacle with the subs is highly implausible for several reasons beyond the previously-stated fact that the Hudson is too shallow for the scene to happen. The subs would be using ADCAP torpedoes, which are wire-guided; in the event that the weapon turns toward or acquires a friendly target, a button push aboard the launching boat will destroy the torpedo. Additionally, in such a bizarre scenario, it would be expected that the subs would have maintained a picket line rather than maneuvering to put the target between them, as this would radically increase the odds of accidental fratricide (generally, firing in the direction of friendly forces is avoided whenever possible). Finally, committing three subs to the task would have been a needless risk to begin with; given the narrow confines of the river, additional boats only serve to complicate maneuvering. The benefits of the increased firepower would be more than offset by the maneuvering dangers created.
    • It should be noted however, that despite the above issues, the film-makers did assign the right naming conventions to the correct hull types. The Anchorage is a Los Angeles Class Fast attack Sub, while the Utah, and Indiana, are both Ohio Class Ballistic Missile Subs. An interesting example of Shown Their Work.
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: With how long Godzilla spends tromping about Manhattan, he'd have turned it into a uninhabitable ghost island if he were at all radioactive like his Japanese namesake. And with the leftover fallout from the nuclear bomb tests, he should be. The film just seems to forget that Godzilla is radioactive after the first fifteen minutes.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Leaving aside the usual issues with giant monsters and the Square-Cube Law, even if Godzilla was cold blooded, its internal heat should be more than enough for heat seeking missiles to track it (in real life this is known as gigantothermy). A lizard that size burrowing around Manhattan (aside from the fact that he is too big to fully burrow underground without tunneling directly into the earth past the subway) would cause seismic disruptions and could be easily tracked by that.
  • Artistic License – Politics: One scene has a US Army inquiring what a Frenchman is doing at the scene of the clawed freighter. The problem? It's in Tahiti, a French overseas territory. The US troops are the ones who shouldn't be there. No wonder the French sent their secret service after them.
  • Bad Boss: Mr. Caiman to Audrey, Mayor Ebert to Gene.
  • Badass Driver: As the cab chase at the end proves.
  • Bad to the Last Drop: Roache finds the New York coffee (the flavor? French Roast) his assistant gives him to be awful. He still drinks it.
  • Bad Vibrations: Whenever Godzilla approaches for the first half of the film.
  • Big Applesauce: If Godzilla usually went after Tokyo, the western equivalent had to attack New York City. (Also marking the second - and not the last - time Roland Emmerich wrecked havoc in the Big Apple.)
  • Bilingual Bonus: A Japanese man sees Godzilla and exclaims something in Japanese. It translates roughly to, "I left Japan to get away from this kind of thing!"
  • Blinded by the Light: The cab's high-beams are used to make Godzilla flinch away from the tunnel mouth.
  • Breath Weapon: Played with. While this Godzilla can't actually exhale radiation, it can roar with such force that it sends parked cars flying from the shock wave. In one case, this causes their gas tanks to explode in a dragonish blast of flame. But then again, the gas tank explosions are justified in that it's nuclear flame we're talking about here.
  • Captain Obvious: "That's a lot of fish!"
    • Also, this scene, after the heroes have helped the Navy destroy Madison Square Garden, and now must contend with a very angry Godzilla.
      Animal: What do we do now?
      Phillipe: Running would be a good idea.
  • Car Fu: When Jean Reno gets behind the wheel of a taxi, shit gets mad real.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Averted. The DGSE operatives that work with the protagonists are very competent, knot-cutting, pragmatic and professional soldiers. And furthermore, it's France's fault that Godzilla exists in this film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Nick notices that Godzilla seems to have a bit of an aversion to bright lights after using his camera when Godzilla finally shows up for the fish, the flash causing the big guy to flinch. Nick has Philippe use the taxi's high beams to make Godzilla flinch in order to get out of Park Avenue Tunnel in the climax. This is a Mythology Gag to the 1954 original, where Godzilla absolutely hates bright lights as they remind him of the flash of the nuclear bombs going off.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Rather than dig to get to the radiated worms in Chernobyl, Nick used some sort of electrical system that draws them to surface. The same technique is used to draw Godzilla out with fish as bait.
  • Citywide Evacuation: Godzilla's arrival in New York prompts Manhattan to evacuate to New Jersey.
  • Color Wash: The flashbacks that open the film are yellow.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Elsie. She can be very sarcastic!
    • So can Lucy, cameraman Animal Palotti's wife, much to his chagrin.
  • Demoted to Extra: The film is mostly about Nick and Audrey's relationship, the life of a French guy, and Animal Palotti's job, with occasionally a giant lizard thrown in.
  • Destructive Savior: Godzilla does a pretty good job wrecking the city (gutting the Metlife building, digging through Manhattan's underground, turning Madison Square Garden into a nest, to provide some examples), but some of the really... "spectacular"... examples of Monumental Damage are the result of the United States Army unloading everything they have on the damn monster without caring about collateral damage. Because of them, the Flatiron Building, Chrysler Building and other miscellaneous buildings are accidentally blown up and the Garden and part of Manhattan Bridge are deliberately blown up.
  • Driving Stick: American Nick telling French Philippe that the Army Hummer isn't in gear when trying to sneak into the subway system. Especially since the Hummer has an automatic transmission.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: As incompetent as the mayor was, he's perfectly justified when he calls out the US Army for all the damage they caused.
  • Elevator Escape: In the Madison Square Garden chase scene. It's taken wholesale from Jurassic Park.
  • Epic Fail: The US Army blowing up the Chrysler Building with two missiles meant for Godzilla is an excellent example, lampshaded by the mayor.
    Helicopter Pilot: Ah, damn. Uh. That is a negative impact. I repeat, that is a negative impact.
    Mayor Ebert: "Negative impact"?! That's the goddamn Chrysler Building we're talking about here!
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The director considered Godzilla's atomic breath "unrealistic", so it's absence here, but pressure from fans led to a nod at least, in two instances when Godzilla's roar causes some cars to explode and then propels the flames.
  • Explosive Breeder: Godzilla is capable of laying hundreds of eggs without the need for a mate. Had the proposed sequel been made, the danger presented by this ability would have been offset somewhat by the reveal that a full-grown Godzilla is capable of reproducing only once, and the number of eggs produced is determined by carrying capacity of the land.
  • Expy:
    • Harry Shearer's news reporter character, Charlie Caiman, has shades of a live-action version of Kent Brockman. Harry even slips into the same voice multiple times.
    • Mayor Ebert and his toadie Gene are so much supposed to be a Take That! aimed at Siskel and Ebert that the critics took time in their eventual review to ask why didn't Roland Emmerich go the whole nine yards and kill them.
  • Failed a Spot Check: One of the soldiers overlooks Godzilla in the tunnels because he failed to recognize that the "rocks" in front of him were an eyelid. That's excusable, but there is no justification for him missing the rumbling when Godzilla moves while he's barely a couple dozen feet away.
  • Fake American: In-Universe. Philippe briefly does an American accent which he admits is an impersonation of Elvis Presley.
  • Female Monster Surprise: Nick is shocked when a pregnancy test reveals that the giant lizard ransacking NYC is about to have babies. Subverted in that everyone keeps referring to Godzilla as a "very unusual he" due to it being asexual.
  • Fragile Speedster: In keeping with the film's more "realistic" take, this version of Godzilla isn't immune to anti-vehicle ordinance or greater, and in the end half a dozen fighter jet missiles are sufficient to fatally wound him. However, he's incredibly fast and agile and able to dodge most of what the military throws at him for most of the film. It's only after he tangled up in the supports of the Brooklyn Bridge that they can hit him.
  • Friend or Foe: Godzilla causes two other US Navy subs to sink a third sub.
  • From Bad to Worse: For the crew of the USS Anchorage, certainly. Godzilla swims straight at them, using his dorsal spines to rip open the sub's hull, simultaneously crippling and leaving the sub sinking in the middle of the Hudson River. Seconds later, the torpedoes the sub fired at Godzilla smash into its side, destroying it and killing everyone aboard.
  • Giant Equals Invincible: Averted, as Godzilla is killed by the Air Force once it's been lured out into the open where it can't hide.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: Used in the early teaser trailer, where Godzilla steps on a museum's T. Rex skeleton in the middle of a kids' tour. Meant as a (typically nineties) wholly unnecessary potshot at Jurassic Park, but really just comes off as kinda Python-esque.
    • Happens in the film when a cab is crushed.
    • Subverted with Animal, who is almost crushed but survives because he's standing between where two of Godzilla's toes come down.
  • Giant Footprint Reveal: The footprint is so large and deep that at first the protagonist doesn't even realize that he's standing in the footprint.
  • Gigantic Adults, Tiny Babies: Godzilla's offspring are small enough to chase humans inside buildings, hence much smaller than their parent.
  • Gonna Need More X: "We need bigger guns."
  • Gulliver Tie-Down: Luring Godzilla onto the Brooklyn Bridge gets the creature tangled in the suspension cables.
  • Handshake Refusal:
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Used to establish that Godzilla really is dead at the end.
  • Hate Sink: The titular monster is, as with other examples, a creature that lives by its nature with no concept of good or evil, so there's both the conniving and misogynistic news anchor Charles Caiman, who among other things steals Audrey's story, and the video she took from Nick, and the meddlesome Mayor Ebert, who keeps jerkishly complaining about everything the military does ,although he is kind of right to be angry when said military wrecks half of downtown Manhattan on their first confrontation with Godzilla, including blowing both the Chrysler and Flaitiron buildings sky-high, and is focused on his re-election to the point he thinks on his last scene about using Godzilla's death as a publicity booster.
  • Helicopter Flyswatter: With military helicopters.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The US Military is profoundly bad at hitting a 200 foot tall, 300 foot long monster. They actually end up causing more Monumental Damage than even Godzilla does!
  • Ignored Expert: Zigzagged example. Nick discovers through blood testing that Godzilla is pregnant and has arrived in Manhattan to reproduce. He's believed up until his confidential data is leaked (by his girlfriend, Audrey), and then his idea is discredited... for... some... reason. Elsie does convince Colonel Hicks to sweep the city just in case, but by then it's too late: the eggs are real and they're already hatching. If it weren't for Nick and the DGSE already having discovered the nest, this would have turned into an apocalyptically stupid blunder.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Subverted by Roache, who says he could use a coffee instead of alcohol.
  • In Name Only: Godzilla in this movie bears little resemblance to his Japanese namesake. Rather than the camp that is most associated with the series, the script is mostly a Disaster Movie with a bit of action, and the monster movie aspects that remain bear more of a resemblance to The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms than Godzilla.
  • It Can Think:
    • When Godzilla is tailed by three helicopters, he successfully managed to fool them into thinking he is hiding in a skyscraper, cue him bursting from the building behind them and initiating Curb-Stomp Battle. The final helicopter is destroyed when Godzilla crouches low to avoid being seen by it before devouring said helicopter whole.
    • During the battle in the Hudson River, while being attacked by three U.S. Navy submarines, Godzilla swims straight at one of the subs, using the dorsal spines on his back to rip open the sub's hull, leaving it dead in the water and helpless as the torpedoes the Navy fired at him smash into the crippled sub, destroying it.
    • When the protagonists are fleeing from Godzilla, he moves ahead of them and takes out the bridge.
  • It Only Works Once: The military manages to lure Godzilla out of hiding in their first attempt to kill him using a huge pile of fish as bait, but they end up bungling it and he's able to escape. They try the same thing again, but in an area where Godzilla will be more exposed, but Godzilla realizes the trick this time and doesn't walk into range.
  • Jerkass: Charlie Caiman, who propositions Audrey despite being married, and strings her along with hopes of becoming a reporter while making her do all his work.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • One of the movie's few truly hilarious moments involves a gag pointing out that the beast should be named "Gojira", but Americans got it wrong.
    • Mayor Ebert at one point angrily shouted to the military's commanders that their choppers did more damage to the city than the monster itself.
  • Mama Bear: Godzilla is both a Mama Bear and a Papa Wolf.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Everyone in the military command centre as they watch the crippled USS. Anchorage about to be destroyed by the torpedoes the US. Navy fired at Godzilla.
  • Mayor Pain: Mayor Ebert is the "incompetent" flavor.
  • Meaningful Name: A "caiman" is a crocodile-like reptile. See Jerkass above. Roache (pronounced "Rowsh") is a sneaky guy who pops up where he's not wanted and engages in shady activities, befitting one military guy's calling him "Roach".
  • Merchandise-Driven: All the tie-in merchandise was designed and ready for assembly before a scriptwriter was hired.
  • Militaries Are Useless: The only time the military accomplishes anything is with the 3 F-18s that both destroy Madison Square Gardens and kill Godzilla. Every other time, they fail miserably and either damage other or hit other military units. Still, their firepower is established to be a sufficient threat to Godzilla that its primary response is to run the hell away — which is such a marked difference from its normal performance that it irked long-time fans.
  • Misguided Missile: When the Navy tries to take out Godzilla with subs, Godzilla dodges two of their torpedoes then swims under the Anchorage, causing the torpedoes to sink it.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The prologue shows nuclear testing in French Polynesia interspersed with shots of various lizards that implicitly live on the island chain. The only problem is that none of the shown species are native to French Polynesia.note  In fact, French Polynesia has no reptile species, native or otherwise, making Godzilla's origin something of a mystery.
  • Missed Him by That Much: The Jerkass news anchor twice misses seeing Godzilla walk past the station windows because he's too busy complaining on the phone that he doesn't have a good story to cover. The gag is repeated later, when a soldier mistakes Godzilla's skin for a wall and turns around just in time to miss Godzilla moving out of the way (how he didn't hear Godzilla's growling is less clear).
  • Monster Delay: A textbook example. It takes more than forty-five minutes until Godzilla is fully revealed, with the plot gradually building up his appearance, first showing an attack where we only see a glimpse of tail and claws, then his footprints, then another attack where he's hidden underwater, before his largely faceless emergence in Manhattan, and then finally a full clear shot. Even the advertising for the film did all it could to avoid showing too much of Godzilla's design, including billboards which would state Godzilla's measurements and show nothing (which would end up backfiring when Godzilla's redesign took a huge amount of unending criticism, proving it's possible to do this trope wrong).
  • Monster Is a Mommy: About halfway through the film, Nick finds out Godzilla is parthenogenic and laid eggs. If any one of them get out, they'll start a new disaster. It turns out one DID survive, setting up the plot of Godzilla: The Series.
  • Monumental Damage: Naturally it's often NYC's most-recognizable landmarks that get trashed, either by Godzilla (the MetLife building, the Brooklyn Bridge) or by the forces pursuing him and his offspring (the Chrysler Building, Madison Square Garden, the Flatiron Building).
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Roache says he's a patriot, despite the horrible things France has done in the past. There are some pretty damn rose-tinted glasses at play here, though: the US did at least as much nuclear testing as the French in Polynesia!
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Audrey, after finding that Caiman stole her story and being chewed out by Nick for stealing the tape, is seen crying her eyes out in Animal’s apartment in remorse, leading the two to locate the nest themselves and broadcast the location.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The Mayor was right, the army really did cause more damage than Godzilla did.
    • Also Audrey got Nick fired and caused the military to dismiss his theory about Godzilla being pregnant.
  • No Endor Holocaust: It's stated that Godzilla making landfall resulted in "dozens" of deaths, which is quite extraordinary considered we see he apparently leapt straight through a sixty-storey skyscraper. How that didn't kill hundreds of people alone is a mystery.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: It's emphasized that Godzilla is an animal and not a monster, and at first all he wants to do is find a safe place to have his (her?) offspring. He doesn't seem to consider humans food and only fought back in self defense against attempts to destroy him. The hatchlings only attacked humans because they were hungry and had run low on fish. Subverted later when Godzilla tries to kill four people in revenge for the deaths of his offspring... four people who weren't even responsible, well not directly at any rate.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Dr. Niko Tatopoulos, who was named for Patrick Tatopoulos, who worked on special effects for the film and has the same problem.
  • Novelization: By Stephen Molstad, who collaborated with Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich on their novelizations for Stargate and Independence Day, as well as writing the ID4 prequel novel Silent Zone and interquel War in the Desert. An audiobook of the novel, read by Doug Savant, who plays Sgt. O'Neal in the film, was also made.
  • A Nuclear Error: The opening stock footage of a nuclear test isn't French footage but American test footage out of the Bikini Atoll.
  • Obscured Special Effects: All of Godzilla's scenes take place at night and/or in the rain to cover up the CG, resulting an implausibly long torrential downpour over New York that seems to last at least two weeks in-story.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Mayor Ebert is much too eager to be reopening the city when the military has cause to believe there's still a danger.
  • Oh, Crap!: Nick initially thinks that Godzilla laid a small number of eggs. Someone then switches on Madison Square Garden's lights, and shit gets real quick...
    Nick: (in obvious pants-crapping terror) He looks angry...
    • During the Hudson River battle, the crew of the submarine USS Anchorage experience this when they realise Godzilla is swimming straight at them with the torpedoes they fired at him close behind.
    USS. Anchorage crewman: Sir! The target's coming right at us!
  • Ominous Crack: The pavement develops a long, spreading crack that runs right under Tatopolous's feet, just before Godzilla busts up out of the sewer tunnels in a shower of rubble.
  • Product Placement: As you'd expect, Sony-brand electronics are everywhere. However, it's also Truth in Television for Animal, who carries a Sony-brand camera — Sony is actually a major provider of broadcast equipment, including field equipment for ENG, like the shoulder-mount camera he uses.
  • Ramming Always Works: Godzilla smashes into a US. Navy submarine, slicing open his hull with its spines, crippling it.
  • Ramp Jump: The taxi runs over one of Godzilla's toes, which serves as a ramp and sends it flying.
  • Raptor Attack: Godzilla's offspring turns the last half of the film into a fusion between Jurassic Park and Aliens, with Nick and Philippe's team fighting the baby Godzillas, which look and act very closely to Jurassic Park's velociraptors.
  • The Remake: Of the Godzilla film series, natch. That said, it's a Broad Strokes remake that borders on In Name Only in many, many parts.
  • Red Shirt: The French secret service agents which accompany Roache. They get little to no character development or focus, and are quickly forgotten after being rapidly disposed of by Godzilla's offspring.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Godzilla's origins were time-shifted from (implicitly) American nuclear testing during the 1950s to French nuclear testing during the mid-1990s, something which was highly controversial at the time the film was being produced.
  • Rule of Cool: The Apache helicopters featured here have inaccurately portrayed and bizarrely out of place weapons, while neglecting to use several real Apache armaments that would actually be quite hand in such a scenario. Not to mention how they are flown (and the speeds therewith); they're obviously just there for dramatic effect, as it's clear little research was done on them and their standard arms.
  • Running Gag: All Philippe wanted was a decent cup of coffee and on Animal's side, Lucy's gonna kill him.
    • Don't forget about people constantly getting Nick's surname wrong. Even a news reporter does this after Audrey leaks his tapes to the news.
  • Scenery Gorn: Most of New York's streets are utterly trashed by the time Godzilla is brought down, but the MetLife Building in particular is a notable case of this.
  • Scientist vs. Soldier: Everybody agrees on the fact Godzilla needs to die, but Nick (the scientist), being The Worm Guy, theorizes that Godzilla has left eggs somewhere in the city and thus there should be someone looking for them just in case (among general "we need to know more of the monster to try to kill it more effectively" talking), while Colonel Hicks and everybody else high-up only care about blowing away Godzilla, right now, maintaining maximum confidentiality (even if the devastation Godzilla leaves behind is qualified on its very first day as a worse disaster than the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and the eggs thing (which turns out to be correct, much to Nick's eventual peril) is a literal afterthought, and when Caiman (thanks to Audrey) releases information that is classified but really is inconsequential, they get pissed that Nick supposedly leaked info and kick him out of "the project"... to kill the giant monster... that is still roaming the city at the very moment they kick him out.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Gene finally gives this to Mayor Ebert after having had enough of his incompetence and abuse.
  • Scully Box:invoked Alluded to but not used. When Charlie Caiman is about to go live with his co-anchor, a woman who has a good six inches on him, he complains about needing something to match her height. He has to settle for hovering above his chair uncomfortably.
  • Sensor Suspense: Where the submarine is tracking Godzilla approaching them at a high speed.
  • Sequel Hook: The film ends with the last of Godzilla's eggs hatching. It didn't get a sequel, but continued in the animated series.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    • Audrey when she steals Nick's tapes; she makes this up to him later though.
    • Mayor Ebert, who insists on allowing the citizens back into the city before Godzilla's death has been confirmed by the military, and at the end tries to exploit the entire crisis as a promotional tool for his campaign.
  • Slave to PR: Major Ebert's primary motivation during the film is getting reelected, moaning and groaning constantly about how Godzilla's attack and the military's presence might negatively affect his image. When he's confronted by a contingent of New York business owners who want to know his plans during this event, he's quick to brush them off, until he's told by his adviser Gene that they're his campaign sponsors.
  • Slimeball: When Audrey asks her boss Mr. Caiman when she'll be promoted from his assistant to a reporter, Caiman makes it clear the only way she'll get the promotion is if she has an affair with him. Audrey turns him down in disgust.
  • Sole Survivor: Only one of the Japanese fishermen survive Godzilla's attack on their trawling ship at the beginning of the film, although based on the way the Geiger counter crackles as one of the French secret agents waves it over him, not for much longer.
  • Square-Cube Law: Although the filmmakers apparently tried to make Godzilla more realistic in his design, ironically his more dinosaur-like design is far less plausible than the old bulky design. The traditional Godzilla design has pillar-like legs and is built in an upright stance with a low-center of gravity, with massive thighs and thick tail support that you'd expect for an animal weighing thousands of tonnes. This Godzilla has a sleek, raptor-like body held horizontally that basically threw all remaining logic out the window.
  • Stealthy Colossus: Despite Godzilla being the size of a skyscraper, the military manages to lose track of her. In New York City. This isn't even mentioning how he travelled halfway across the world (including crossing across Panama) without a single person getting a good look at him.
  • Steel Ear Drums: There's one moment where Godzilla ends up almost nose to nose with Nick, only a couple of feet between them, and Godzilla roars right in Nick's face. With a beast that size, you'd think that the least that would happen would be Nick's eardrums rupturing, but he doesn't even stop to cover his ears.
  • The Stinger: The end has the hatching of the last egg, leading into the animated series.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The hatchlings pursue humans even when there are still fish lying around waiting to be eaten. Averted with Godzilla itself, as the one behavioral limitation placed on Tristar's version by the trademark-holders was that they couldn't show the Big Guy actually eating anyone: when it does start chasing the cab, it's because it's furious at the destruction of its offspring, not hungry.
  • Suspiciously Stealthy Predator: Somehow Godzilla's pursuers manage to lose track of a critter the size of an aircraft carrier on the streets of Manhattan. They soon enough discover that it has been using the City's subway systems to burrow around Manhattan Island.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Nick looks to be a bit solemn as he watches Godzilla slowly die in front of him. This is explicitly described in the novel, which he narrates.
  • Take That!:
    • One of the movie's best moments, however, is to its own title; a minor plot point is that the Japanese fishermen who first see the beast call it "Gojira". Footage of this eventually gets out to a certain smarmy reporter, who proceeds to flense it into "Godzilla". Other characters actually call him (or the TV broadcast of him, at least) out on this.
    • The movie had a quick shot at Jurassic Park (1993), with a major shot of Godzilla's foot going through the ceiling of a museum and stomping a T-Rex statue flat, conveying how much bigger Godzilla is than the prehistoric monster. This is perplexing, considering that the baby-Godzillas are blatant ripoffs of that film's raptors.
    • The film was itself (especially their version of the titular monster) has been the subject of several Take Thats in later Kaiju films.
  • Take That, Critics!:
    • In retaliation for giving Stargate and Independence Day negative reviews, director Roland Emmerich had No Celebrities Were Harmed versions of Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel as the Mayor of New York and his aide (respectively). The bizarre thing is, nothing remotely bad happens to either of them (aside from having their city destroyed) and their only real character fault was incompetence (given this is their first monster attack, it's understandable). This particular Take That! backfired on Emmerich, as Gene Siskel said if the filmmakers wanted to get the insulting jab right, they would have had Godzilla eat the Mayor and the aide or squash them (though to be fair, Toho specified that Godzilla wasn't allowed to eat people).
    • Another critic actually is squished in the film: the extra in the car that is stepped on early in the film is intended to be a representation of J.D. Lees, editor of G-Fan Magazine, who had harsh criticism for the film based on information leaks prior to its release. Since hardly anyone in the audience was even going to recognize the reference, it's pretty clear that this statement was just for the benefit of Emmerich himself.
  • The Tooth Hurts: During the final chase, Nick forces Godzilla to spit the taxi out of its mouth by jamming an exposed electrical cable into the gap between its tooth and gum.
  • To Serve Man: Despite Toho's specification that Godzilla wasn't allowed to eat people, the baby Godzillas chow down on the French soldiers and Godzilla himself tries to eat the cab that Nick, Audrey, Roache, and Animal are fleeing in (although out of rage rather than hunger).
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Audrey's friend Lucy tells her she's too "nice" and that she needs to be more aggressive in order to get what she wants. Unfortunately, Audrey takes this advice in the worst possible way and steals classified data from Nick to try and further her career (which fails when her slimy boss takes the credit), resulting in Nick getting kicked off the operation for the resulting information leak.
  • Truly Single Parent: In this movie, Godzilla can fertilize itself, like some species of reptiles can.
  • Truth in Television: Although it wasn't really known at the time, some lizards (most notably the Komodo dragon) actually are capable of asexual reproduction via a process called parthenogenesis.
  • Tsundere: A non-Japanese Type A example with Lucy (ironically enough), who henpecks her husband to no end. Near the end of the monster's defeat, she sees Animal in the news and says in a rather loving way, "I'm going to kill him!"
  • Understatement: "Negative impact" indeed; It's only the freaking Chrysler Building.
  • Unexplained Recovery: It's never really touched upon how Godzilla managed to stay hidden after getting shot in the Hudson River, but maybe the military is as bad at looking for a 250ft long mutant lizard as they are at aiming for it.
  • Vertigo Effect: Used but subtly during Godzilla's entrance in New York for at least one shot.
  • Voodoo Shark: The reason behind the horizontal, raptor-like design for the monster was in order to make it more "realistic." We'll ignore the improbability of such a lanky, precarious and front-heavy design being better suited for giant size than the heavy, pillar-legged, mountain-shaped original. They decided to continue making it more realistic by making it a mutated iguana instead of a dinosaur, thereby completely negating the entire point behind the raptor-shape in the first place. And the Square-Cube Law is being completely ignored either way.
  • Within Arm's Reach: In the final taxi chase, Godzilla catches the taxi carrying the main characters in his mouth (as well as a large chunk of the road), but they're able to escape when Nick notices a loose electrical cable dangling next to him which he uses to zap Godzilla's gums. This causes Godzilla to screech in pain, opening his mouth and giving the taxi a chance to drive free.
  • The Worm Guy: Nick is the Trope Namer, having started out studying mutated earthworms in Chernobyl, but nonetheless ends up invaluable in finding and killing Godzilla despite having very little in common with his field.
  • Wormsign: When Godzilla arrives from the ocean, the pier splits most satisfyingly.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Echos 1, 2, and 4 all reporting for duty, but no Echo 3?
  • Your Size May Vary: Godzilla is very inconsistent throughout the film; for example, when he first emerges from the sewer, his eye appears to be roughly a metre in diameter, while in a later scene it seems to completely dwarf an entire person.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: Godilla is pregnant despire being the only one of its kind, but is occasionally referred to as "he". note 

Video Example(s):


Nothing Here

One of the soldiers looking for Godzilla fails to see something.

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Example of:

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