Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / Godzilla (1998)

Go To

  • Americans Hate Tingle: The film was disliked by the staff involved with the original film. Kenpachiro Satsuma (the Godzilla suit actor throughout the Heisei series) claimed the monster does not have the "spirit" of Godzilla, and to that end, walked out of the Japanese premiere of the film.
  • Ass Pull: Nick pulls the idea that the baby Zillas are pregnant from birth from absolutely nowhere.
  • Awesome Music:
    • Though the films overall quality is still debatable, the one thing that is universally agreed upon is that the films original score composed by David Arnold is stellar. The opening theme for example is a slow, foreboding piece that gets much more bombastic and heavier as it goes on set to footage of nuclear bomb testings. It’s a perfect way to set the mood. Some of the cues are borrowed from his score to Independence Day.
    • Advertisement:
    • There's also the tie-in songs like "Deeper Underground" by Jamiroquai, "Come With Me" by Sean Combs, and a cover of "Heroes" by The Wallflowers.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Though the rest of the main characters have fallen into either Ensemble Dark Horse or Scrappy territory by many fans listed below, Dr. Niko Tatopoulos tends to be more divisive. Some see him as just another generic stereotype of the socially awkward, geeky scientist who fails to leave any sort of impact on viewers, whereas others found him to be charismatic and quite funny throughout, citing it as one of Matthew Broderick’s more memorable roles.
  • Critical Backlash: In contrast to all the hate this film has gotten over the years by critics and especially fans, there has been a wave of people, some of which are legitimate fans of the movie, who have come to the films defense and have given it merit for being an all around entertaining popcorn flick that does a lot of things right from it’s music and effects to characters and comedy for a Hollywood blockbuster movie, and that most of the hate is uncalled for just because it’s a misrepresentation of an arguably niche franchise. Even some fans of the Japanese Godzilla movies have come out and admitted that it was a decent monster movie in its own right, and even claimed that it’s actually better than some of the weaker Godzilla movies even if it isn’t a true Godzilla movie.
  • Advertisement:
  • Critical Dissonance: Despite being ridiculed by most, in theaters it made nearly three times what it cost to make, being the third highest grossing film in the world that year. The director has commented that out of all the films he directed, it was the one which parents told him their children enjoyed the most.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • The 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.
    • Roland Emmerich seemed to be under the impression that Godzilla used to be portrayed through suits because (in his own words) "they had no clue how to do stop-motion animation". In reality, the special effects director of the original film, Eiji Tsuburaya, was actually experienced in stop-motion, but "suitmation" was much cheaper and less time consuming, and a few Godzilla films did in fact have a bit of stop-motion.note 
    • Advertisement:
    • When defending the decision to show Godzilla entirely in heavy rain and at night, stating that "If you look back to the first Godzilla movie, almost all of it was at night. Almost all of it was in the rain." Of course if you only watch the film, you can tell it's blatantly false.note 
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Animal and Phillippe are considered by quite a few as one of the few redeeming aspects of the film.
    • Godzilla himself developed into this after he was retconned into a different kaiju (redubbed "Zilla") from Godzilla by Toho.
  • Fanon: As time has gone on, and this version of Godzilla has gone on to appear occasionally in Toho-related media under the name "Zilla", both films and comics, fans go back to this film and essentially treat it not as a movie about Godzilla, but a separate Kaiju within the same universe as the other Toho monsters, which is considered significantly more acceptable by longtime fans.
  • Faux Symbolism: Similar to the Japanese films, Godzilla is born of nuclear destruction, but while these films go further by making Godzilla a blatant metaphor for atomic warfare and the consequences it brings, in this film it's just an excuse for how he exists and has no bearing on the rest of the plot.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In countries that have never localized the original movies, it's not uncommon for movie fans to regard this rendition of the Godzilla character as a classic Hollywood blockbuster, whereas the Man in a Rubber Suit approach (or even the basic design of the monster) is often treated as a joke, and the Japanese films are likewise mocked. As expected, the 2014 film got accusations of They Changed It, Now It Sucks! from people only familiar with this version, and the newer reboot's polarizing reception had even gained the '98 movie a popularity-boost in these places, its fans reaffirmed in their view that nothing good can come from taking the franchise back to its roots — even if the '14 movie's reception on a global scale tilted more towards positive.
  • Gateway Series: To some of the people, they watched the film before they found out about the original source material.
  • Ham and Cheese: Jean Reno refuses to take this cheeseburger seriously. He hams it up shamelessly, sneering down his Gallic schnoz at everything American (despite being one of the good guys), and the film is much better for it.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: At one point, Caiman describes Godzilla's actions as "the worst act of destruction [in New York] since the [1993] World Trade Center bombing!".
    • Hundreds of planes and helicopters can also be seen flying straight through the gap between WTC 1 and 2.
    • Even leaving aside that one reference, much of the New York destruction is almost surreal in this film, as it's quite gruesome but also handled with a kind of light-heartedness that simply wouldn't fly in a post-9/11 world. During Caiman's helicopter coverage of the destruction, the idea that he'd take time to address store owners being annoyed at the loss of business and looters robbing Disney stores is simply laughable, to say nothing about the Chrysler Building being utterly demolished by wayward missiles being treated with mild outrage by the Mayor and utterly ignored by everyone else.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Hank Azaria's titular character in Brockmire would have an ex-wife named Lucy.
    • Sixteen years later, another Godzilla would attack a suspension bridge and be shot at by missiles, but instead of dying, is merely slightly annoyed.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The (in)famous nickname GINO (Godzilla In Name Only) has achieved this status on the internet, even after Toho adopted the movie's version of Godzilla and renamed it to simply "Zilla."
    • Due to 'Zilla being referred to as a male despite changing sex and laying eggs, a lot of jokes have been made that "Godzilla 1998 is transgender representation".
    • "That's a lot of fish"
  • More Popular Spin-Off: Godzilla: The Series, especially since the Godzilla in the series acts more like Godzilla than its mother in the movie.
  • Narm
    • During the first fish bait scene, the radar shows the pile of fish as a big generic fish symbol just to point it out.
    • The huge barrage of helicopters chasing down Godzilla during the second fish bait scene. They're all dangerously close to each other and are flying between the buildings as they're doing this. Definitely Rule of Cool being exploited to its fullest extent here.
    • The exaggeratedly sad music that plays as Godzilla nudges its dead offspring and the bystanding humans making side comments takes away from the solemn tragedy of the scene (compare and contrast with the 2014 film's scene of the Female MUTO, whose cries of anguish are only set to silence, and are more effective because of it).
    • Some of 'Zilla's roars are unmistakably elephant sounds.
    • The French DGSE team's efforts to make themselves seem "more American", including but not limited to imitating Elvis Presley and gratuitously chewing gum at all times.
    • Audrey's cover story on the stolen tape is pretty cringeworthy, seeing how she's paraphrasing Humpty Dumpty of all things as her closing statement.
    Audrey: All the king's horses and all the king's men may not be able to put the Big Apple together again.
    CinemaSins: Jeez, that's the copy you wrote? No wonder no one's given you a chance to be a reporter!
  • Older Than They Think:
    • This is not the first time Godzilla attacks New York on film; this happened as early as 1968's Destroy All Monsters.
    • People in countries that got this film before getting the previous Toho films are sometimes unaware that Godzilla existed before 1998. So when the 2014 film came out, they were unaware that it was a Truer to the Text.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Stand Up comedian George Carlin can be seen in Animal and Lucy’s house after the latter invited all those who couldn’t return to their homes.
  • Pandering to the Base: Godzilla wasn't supposed to have his signature Breath Weapon in this movie because the filmmakers thought it was "unrealistic", but a huge outcry from Godzilla fans led them to make a compromise. In late production, they added a few SFX shots where his roar causes a few cars to explode, causing a fireball as a nod to Godzilla's "atomic breath".
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: In a very weird way, a Take That, Scrappy! managed to do this, as Toho canonizing the movie and making Zilla a separate kaiju has caused a good number of fans to take the movie as a stand alone film rather than a remake, and increased enjoyment of it.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Audrey. Given that her relationship with Nick already ended because she chose her career over marrying him, the fact that she proceeds to do so again by betraying the top secret information to the press, effectively ruining his career to further her own, means that the audience has no idea why Nick wants her back at the end of the film.
    • This version of Godzilla himself is pretty much the scrappy of the Godzilla fandom, first being demoted to "Zilla" in the first place (for taking the "God" out of Godzilla, since as of 2016, it officially means "God Incarnate"), then being referenced dismissively in a couple of Japanese Godzilla movies before being given a brief appearance in Final Wars solely so he can be soundly trounced by the real Godzilla for the purpose of a Take That!. His species did get Rescued from the Scrappy Heap in Godzilla: The Series.
  • So Okay, It's Average: As a film on its own merits, it's this. The only reason it's hated so much is because of its In Name Only aspect.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • For starters, the lighting on Godzilla always looks off (which is why Godzilla is always obscured by nighttime and rain), and very little water splashes when he seemingly falls to his death on the Hudson River. This is mostly a problem with the film print, which was fixed in digital releases to become Visual Effects of Awesome.
    • The scale is completely off, with Godzilla seemingly changing size compared to the surrounding buildings throughout the film. The worst being when he can only fit his arm into a tunnel during the cab chase, when his entire body earlier fit into what looked like a smaller one.
    • There's a compositing error when Godzilla is feasting on the piles of fish — when we see it from behind, there's a squad of army men running to its right who pop into view between frames. The CGI guys neglected to rotoscope them into the shot, so the monster, who's supposed to be in the background, overlaps them.
    • The helicopter chase, while on a whole a fairly cool scene, still features a cityscape that really looks very little like that of the real New York.
    • In one shot when Godzilla first emerges in New York we see him apparently crush a fleeing civilian to death; said civilian is clearly seen continuing to run offscreen if you look hard enough, ruining the intended effect.
    • The Chrysler Building's destruction, while highly memorable, still sees the spire float very slowly and unconvincingly off its base, and then flattening like a pancake when it hits the streets.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: A number of people think that the movie works better as a remake of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms than of Godzilla, as both movies revolve around a giant monster ravaging New York after a nuclear test goes awry, using famous landmarksnote  as an excuse to Trash the Set, and the titular monster not being all that hard to kill (the tension is killing it safely). The plots line up surprisingly well down to elements such as the first attack being on a fishing boat, a seaside location being destroyed, the monster first coming ashore on the same Manhattan dock and plowing through a building, having a showdown with the military down main street at night, a blood test for a secondary plot concern, and then dying after getting caught inside a New York landmark. Ironically, Beast served as a bit of the inspiration for the original Godzilla. Many Godzilla fans think that it'd have been much better received if it had been an outright remake of Beast.
  • Squick: According to the audio commentary, the special effects team gave Godzilla female genitals (though this incarnation, like all others, is still referred to as a male by the fandom). Freeze frames show it in detail, mercifully not for long.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: This film's version of Godzilla has widely been derided for being In Name Only, changing him from an almost indestructible Mighty Glacier to a skinny Fragile Speedster that has no atomic breath or resistance to human weapons. This lead to the Fan Nickname GINO (Godzilla In Name Only) and eventually the species would be retconned by Toho as a separate species of kaiju known as "Zilla" (although due to character licensing the version in this movie and any direct tie-ins will always be known as Godzilla).
  • They Copied It, So It Sucks!: The stadium sequence and the design of the Godzilla hatchlings in the final act where the heroes got to dispose of the baby Godzilla nest gets a lot of this type of criticism thrown its way for being way too similar to the raptor scenes/design from the first Jurassic Park film. Which is especially baffling considering the film's advertising took several potshots at Jurassic Park.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Mayor Ebert and his beleaguered assistant Gene, who were intended to be a potshot towards Siskel and Ebert for bashing Emmerich's last two movies, but outside of Mayor Ebert being a bumbling candy-addict and his assistant being a boot-licker, nothing bad really happens to them. Something the two critics found even more upsetting than being caricatured, because why have people you hate be in a monster movie and not have the monster kill them? (On top of that, when Ebert put Emmerich's Stargate on his most hated movie list years later; he wasn't any kinder to Godzilla 1998 than he was to Emmerich's other films.)
    • The monster himself is this; despite overwhelmingly positive reactions to the cartoon series featuring Godzilla's son, the monster himself wouldn't return to the franchise for six years, only to be killed rather ingloriously almost immediately. He's since appeared in the American IDW comics series and in the prequel novel for Planet of Monsters but the monster was ultimately scrapped from Godzilla: Unleashed at least in part due to feared fan backlash. Zilla has a fairly large fanbase (or at least, fans who don't irrationally hate the monster) by now who recognize him not as Godzilla, but a different respectable kaiju on his own, but chances of him appearing in another film seem slim, due largely to the film which spawned him.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • The casual use of the word "retard" by Lucy towards Animal, now recognized as a rather derogatory term with deeply unforgiving implications.
    • Caiman, who is already married, makes it clear to Audrey that she will not get the position she wants unless she sleeps with him. Audrey, while upset, simply brushes it off as part of typical office politics. Nowadays, Caiman would have been likely been fired by the day's end had he attempted that.
  • Vindicated by History:
    • It's hardly gone from hated to The Godfather level acclaim, but after fifteen or so years some fans have admitted, begrudgingly, that the film is better than some of the worse Japanese installments.
    • With the premiere of the new Godzilla movie, some critics admitted that this one does surpass it in certain ways, such as the main (non-Godzilla) character. Matthew Broderick "had charisma and geeky charm"; Aaron Johnson "only had a six pack". Additionally, the Godzilla-to-screen-time ratio is much better in this film.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Somehow the soldiers in New York keep losing track of Godzilla despite the sheer size of the creature; at one point in the destroyed subway tunnels, one of them doesn't notice Godzilla staring from right behind him.
    • Mayor Ebert's constant hounding on the military to reopen Manhattan even while Godzilla remains a clear and present danger to the city. Luckily, the military overrules him each time he tries to strong-arm them.
    • The military for calling off the search for Godzilla's nest when Nick's tape is leaked to the press. Even if he had been guilty of that (and he wasn't), that alone should not have invalidated the imminent threat posed by Godzilla's potential offspring. To his credit, Colonel Hicks comes to his senses and initiates a search well before he is informed of the nest's discovery at Madison Square Garden.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: For some odd reason, nearly half of the The Simpsons voice castnote  is in this. Hank Azaria even uses Moe’s voice a couple times seemingly just for the hell of it.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: