Godzilla, the 1998 Roland Emmerich movie, is not a fan favorite for fans of the Big G. I do understand why, and yet while the monster deserved the fan name of GINO (Godzilla In Name Only) and the Japanese “Zilla” (minus the “god”) as seen in Godzilla: Final Wars, I still very much enjoy the movie. While Emmerich claimed it was a return to the classic 1960s movie I think it’s more accurate that it resembles an update of the 50s giant monster movies that inspired Ishiro Honda to create the monster. The atomic bomb test more imitates The Beast From 50,000 Fathoms and movies of that kind that how it was treated in either the original Japanese or the US interpretation of the original Godzilla/Godzilla: King Of The Monsters. It’s a fun movie even with the questionable shot at Siskel & Ebert or the fact that it’s an early example of Hollywood not caring about the old source material, which has become the norm out of Lalaland’s theatrical landscape of not-stalgia and mockstalgia. As an original property it actually works.
However, the best defense of the movie is what came out of it. Godzilla: The Series was created for Fox Kids by Adelaide Productions, the same people behind Men In Black: The Series and Jackie Chan Adventures, and while not breaking away from the movie (unlike the aforementioned MIB, which ignored the end of the movie, here they actually continued off of it, using the teaser of a baby Zilla not found by the humans, aka Zilla Junior by fans according to the Godzilla fan wiki) managed to fix most of the movie’s errors.
I have two videos from Godzilla fan and commentary YouTube series Up From The Depths, which I still believe is a reference to that other Godzilla cartoon whose theme song starts with those words. The first discusses just what the Tri-Star produced movie did wrong while agreeing with me that the movie itself isn’t bad, just not Godzilla. The second goes into what the series did right and how it turned Zilla into a monster worth celebrating.
I was also disappointed when I saw the movie messed up Godzilla but I actually had enough fun watching it in the theater that I still enjoyed it. Plus the levels of not-stalgia hadn’t yet reached today’s horrific levels so I wasn’t as mad as I am today when I see something beloved by certainly not the director get some namesake re-imagining. I remember that promotional campaign where the final design of Godzilla had been kept in the shadows, and remember all the talk about how computer animation was supposedly so much better than the traditional “man in suit” style of Japanese kaiju movies, the same claptrap I heard when the Legendary Pictures “Monsterverse” began. So when the cartoon was announced I was interested in seeing what they were going to do with it, having enjoyed the original NBC series based on the more traditional hero period of Godzilla I grew up with. I was not disappointed in the slightest.
I’m curious what his thoughts are on the Hanna-Barbera series but I liked this show for the same reasons. The NBC/Toho cast were good in their time, and the FOX/Tri-Star cast were an update of that. NIGEL could be a replacement for Godzooki in that both served as a way to summon Godzilla for help, and both were both comic relief but also served a purpose on the team. No replacement for Pete but outside of being the ship’s cook and the one who could most easily keep Godzooki’s antics to a minimum bringing your nephew into numerous monster encounters seems like a bad idea, even if his role along with Captain Majors was for the scientists to explain things to the audience surrogate. I guess you can make the case for Monique here as she replaces the French agent from the movie and frankly was less demanding of a fist to the face for being a jerk.
If you haven’t seen this series the full series as well as well as the “Monster Wars” storyline separately (if you want to sample it) are available from Mill Creek in the US, on the CTV website if you’re in Canada or using a VPN, and episodes pop up on YouTube. I also recommend checking it out because it really is a great giant monster series on its own and shows what the movie could have been.