'Godzilla': 5 Things Roland Emmerich's 1998 Version Did Better
(Spoiler warning: Don’t read if you haven’t seen "Godzilla" yet. Either of them.)
"Godzilla" scored the biggest box office opening for a creature feature ever last weekend, and finally did the King of Monsters justice in the minds of the fans who flocked to theaters to see him stomp — then save — San Francisco. But that doesn't mean it's a perfect movie. Or even a great movie.
In fact, the majority of reviews — positive and negative — reflect that director Gareth Edwards' take on the giant reptile is flawed for a number of reasons. While director Roland Emmerich's 1998 movie, "Godzilla," is generally derided for consisting of nothing but flaws, a comparison of the two very different adaptations reveals Emmerich's vision did succeed in ways Edwards' didn't.
Don't believe it?
Set aside 1998's overly goofy tone, unrecognizable monster and cheesy dialogue and pay attention to five things Emmerich's version did better than the product Warner Bros. distributed in 2014.
1. Matthew Broderick had charisma and geeky charm; Aaron Taylor-Johnson only had a six pack.
TheWrap's critic Alonso Duralde described Taylor-Johnson's character in his review as "a very pretty blank." Sure, the British actor passes for a handsome American with a muscular build believable enough for a capable marine, but his generally expressionless face and matter-of-fact delivery didn't bring much to the table. He failed to command any presence on the screen, and didn't provide sufficient entertainment while audiences eagerly waited for the titular monster to emerge from the Pacific.
Complain all you want about the campy tone of Emmerich's "Godzilla," but leave Broderick out of it. He did what actors are supposed to do, and created a character out of the dialogue he was paid to deliver. It’s pretty easy to remember that Broderick led the cast of the movie as a nerdy biologist specializing in nuclear mutations, but will audiences be able to remember that time Kick-Ass faced off against Godzilla a decade down the road? Or will they just remember Godzilla projectile fire-vomiting down another monster’s throat?
2. 1998 protagonist had a set of clearly defined objectives, while 2014 protagonist's motivations were all over the map.
Broderick's Dr. Niko Tatopoulos was recruited by the U.S. military to use his expertise to figure out what Godzilla is and why the giant lizard decided to emerge from the ocean now (well, in 1998). He eventually uses a blood sample to discover the creature is pregnant, and preparing to lay eggs on the island of Manhattan. Once the military relieves him of his duties and he learns top military officials are ignoring his discovery, he sets out with a merry band of Frenchmen to find the nest himself, and destroy it.
Now let's review Marine Man's role in 2014 "Godzilla."
He leaves his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) at home in San Francisco to bail his "crazy" dad (Bryan Cranston) out of jail in Japan, and tries to convince him to stop stalking around a nuclear quarantine zone, but then inexplicably decides to come along for more illegal trespassing. The two get caught, and they end up at the top secret location crazy dad has been trying to discover for 15 years.