Making My Peace With Godzilla ’98

Yup. I’m at it again. Don’t worry, I’ll leave the series alone until Godzilla VS Kong comes out.

Godzilla ’98 is one of the most infamous movies of all time. People who weren’t familiar with the original franchise saw it as nothing more than a lame Jurassic Park ripoff. But fans of the series tore it to shreds for years. Even Toho got in on the action, rebooting Godzilla proper, rebranding the American version as a new character, then brutally murdering it in Godzilla: Final Wars.

God bless Japan.

Today, I want to ask a question, mostly to myself: does it deserve the hate? Or was it a blessing in disguise?

Yes, the movie is a massive insult to the franchise. Its version of Godzilla is the furthest thing from the iconic monster that you could possibly get. It lacked either the serious narrative drama that made movies like the original 1954 movie, Godzilla ’84, or Shin Godzilla memorable, as well as the cheesy fun factor that made the majority of the series so much fun to watch.

But to be fair, and I can’t believe I’m saying this: the monster itself isn’t bad. If this were a standalone monster movie, completely detached from its Japanese roots, the monster would actually look pretty cool! Giant iguana thing? By kaiju movie standards, that’s not actually that bad!

Now if only they let it destroy things instead of making the humans look like morons. Right. Being positive, not critical… man, that’s hard…

You know what did let this version destroy? Godzilla: The Series! This cartoon is unfairly good, considering the source material! It actually manages to capture the spirit of the Showa era films pretty well! It’s a pretty solid cartoon, even if you detach it from the series proper.

Of course, that’s not the only series to come out of this movie’s existence. Remember: Toho was pretty set on being done with Godzilla. Godzilla VS Destroyah was, in every shape and form, a conclusion to the series. If left alone, the franchise would more than likely have ended there.

But then this movie came out and Toho got really upset. Thus began a domino effect.

First came the Millennium era. Then, about ten years after that, America got another go at making a Godzilla movie, one that they wouldn’t screw up (thank God), which would spawn the Legendary Monsterverse. In response to that, Toho came swinging back into action with Shin Godzilla, one of the strongest movies in the entire franchise (and my favorite movie of all time)! Then we got the anime trilogy and…

…that’s all I have to say about that.

Thankfully, we have a better (hopefully) anime coming later with Godzilla: Singular Point. This’ll be our first proper Godzilla TV anime (or Netflix anime, I guess) and from what we’ve seen, it looks pretty sick! Granted, it’s still too early to judge; as of the writing of this article, the show hasn’t come out yet. But it’s got Jet motherfucking Jaguar in it, so it’s alright in my book!

The fact of the matter is: none of these things would exist without Godzilla ’98. By being so unbelievably bad and offensive to the fanbase, it ignited a spark that would not only bring the franchise back to life. It also brought the series to the most successful point that it’s ever reached!

I still hate the movie, mind you. Even if you detach Godzilla from it, it’s hard to deny how bad this movie is. Sure, some of the visuals are fairly impressive for the time and the monster looks pretty slick. But the acting is bad, the dialogue is terrible, and it actively seems to hate its source material. Whether judging it as a standalone film or a Godzilla movie, it is terrible.

But in the end, it’s hard to deny that it’s existence was ultimately a blessing. If not for it, the franchise would more than likely be done. Dead and buried. We wouldn’t have gotten all the incredible modern films if not for this. Godzilla would never have gotten a rematch with Kong. We’d never have seen characters like Mothra, King Ghidorah, or Rodan again. The franchise would never have reached the highs that it’s managed to get to in the last few years.

Looking at it like that, I can make peace with this movie. This is a demon I can put to rest.

Now, back to twiddling my thumbs and waiting for Godzilla VS Kong.


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