REVIEW: HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER – SEASON 1

Starring

Josh Radnor (The Hunt)
Jason Segel (Sex Tape)
Cobie Smulders (Avengers: Endgame)
Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Bob Saget (Full House)

Neil Patrick Harris, Joe Nieves, Josh Radnor, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass)
David Henrie (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Marshall Manesh (Will & Grace)
Joe Nieves (Stuck In The Middle)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
Anne Dudek (Mad Men)
Charlene Amoia (American Pie: Reunion)
Jayma Mays (Heroes)
Camryn Manheim (Scary Movie 3)
Martin Starr (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Bill Fagerbakke (Spongebob Squarepants)
Suzie Plakson (Disclosure)
Danica McKellar (Young Justice)
Kathleen Rose Perkins (Gone Girl)
J.P. Manoux (Euro Trip)
Ashley Williams (A Most Violent Year)
Virginia Williams (Fuller House)
Kelly Stables (Two and a Half Men)
Bryan Callen (The Hangover)
Taran Killam (12 Years a Slave)
Diane Salinger (Batman Returns)
Alexis Denisof (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Erinn Bartlett (Shallow Hal)
David Burtka (Neil’s Puppet Dreams)
Eric Allan Kramer (Mike & Molly)
America Olivo (Bitch Slap)
Nate Torrence (Get Smart)
Amy Acker (The Gifted)

 

Premiering in Sept. 2005, created by Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and billed as “a love story in reverse,” How I Met Your Mother turns the “Friends” formula on its head by having one of its main characters, Ted Mosby (voiced by Bob Saget), some 30 years after the modern day events of the show, relaying the twists and turns of said events to his two, often disinterested children (David Henrie and Lyndsy Fonseca).It’s a nifty approach to what would otherwise be well-worn material, although the chemistry of the ensemble cast goes a long way towards smoothing over any feelings of seen-it-before-ness. Joining the modern day Ted Mosby (winningly portrayed by Josh Radnor) are his quartet of New York City-dwelling companions: the goofy couple Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel), former flame Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) and the scene-stealing maniac Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris).

Josh Radnor and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)How I Met Your Mother wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining as it is without its cast — it’s unquestionably the show’s biggest strength, although some interesting creative choices by Bays and Thomas run a close second; the pilot episode ends with a mildly shocking twist: The woman that Ted has been avidly pursuing for the past 22 minutes is not, in fact, the mother of his children. It throws you off-balance and guarantees that you’ll tune in for ensuing episodes to see exactly how Ted ends up telling stories to two youngsters 30 years hence. It’s a pretty nifty narrative trick and one which ensured the show had longevity

REVIEW: LOST – SEASON 4

Starring

Matthew Fox (Alex Cross)
Jorge Garcia (How I Met Your Mother)
Elizabeth Mitchell (V)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Terry O’Quinn (The Rocketeer)
Josh Holloway (Colony)
Naveen Andrews (The Brave One)
Emilie de Ravin (Operation: Endgame)
Michael Emerson (Arrow)
Rebecca Mader (Iron Man 3)
Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent)
Yunjin Kim (Shiri)
Henry Ian Cusick (Hitman)
Ken Leung (Inhumans)
Harold Perrineau (Sabotage)

Jorge Garcia and Dominic Monaghan in Lost (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Dominic Monaghan (Flashforward)
Sam Anderson (Angel)
L. Scott Caldwell (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead)
Mira Furlan (Babylon 5)
Tania Raymonde (Texas Chainsaw)
Lance Reddick (John Wick)
Fisher Stevens (Hackers)
John Terry (Full Metal Jacket)
Marsha Thomason (White Collar)
Zoë Bell (The Hateful Eight)
Jeff Fahey (Texas Rising)
Thekla Reuten (Highlander 5)
Beth Broderick (Sabrina: TTW)
Shawn Doyle (Impulse)
Anthony Azizi (Eagle Eye)
Alan Dale (Ugly Betty)
Kevin Durand (Swamp Thing)
Sonya Walger (Flashforward)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
Andrea Roth (Cloak & Dagger)
M.C. Gainey (Breakdown)
Grant Bowler (Harrow)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Cynthia Watros (Titus)
Galyn Görg (Robocop 2)
Malcolm David Kelley (Detroit)
Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Andrea Gabriel (2 Broke Girls)
April Parker Jones (Supergirl)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)
Doug Hutchison (Punisher: War Zone)
Amanda Carlin (Friends)
Michelle Forbes (True Blood)
Veronica Hamel (Cannonball)
Cheech Marin (Coco)

Jeff Fahey in Lost (2004)After a stunning conclusion to the show’s third season, the bar was raised and much was expected of the fourth season of Lost. With the final three seasons reduced to sixteen episodes each and a clear finish line. The creative team could now focus on telling their story without having to worry about how many episodes they had left to work with. Season four is the first to benefit and delivers a faster paced and leaner story that expands the Lost universe in some unexpected ways and delves into the mystery that was introduced at the end of last season.Mira Furlan, Michael Emerson, Josh Holloway, Terry O'Quinn, and Rebecca Mader in Lost (2004)The “flash-forward” at the end of last season introduced an exciting new way in which Lost stories could be told. The use of these flash-forwards continues through the fourth season, revealing that even more Oceanic survivors made it off the island and also introduces an intriguing conspiracy of silence regarding those who weren’t so lucky. This storyline is the backbone of the fourth season as we discovered who was fortunate enough to escape the island and who was left behind. This is arguably the series’ best story arc since the mystery surrounding the hatch and is a well-developed, tightly paced narrative that actually has a satisfying conclusion at the end of the season.The benefit of a shortened schedule is apparent and this season has far less “filler” than previous outings.Michael Emerson in Lost (2004)Less episodes means that every minute of screen time becomes that much more precious and the outcome is a season that doesn’t have what we’d consider a bad episode in the bunch. Even this season’s Kate-centric episode is decent when compared to previous years’ outings. There are plenty of episodes that you will want to revisit here, including the pivotal “The Constant” that is a game-changer when it comes to the series’ mythology. It also features Henry Ian Cusick’s best performance as Desmond to date and one of the more memorable Michael Giacchino scores. The rest of the season is filled to the brim with moments that will have any Lost fan riveted.Michael Emerson in Lost (2004)Acting wise, all the great performances that you have come to expect from the series’ regulars are present. Henry Ian Cusick in Lost (2004)Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn continue to put in stellar performances as Ben Linus and John Locke respectively. As has been stated many times throughout the last couple of seasons, these two have some phenomenal chemistry on screen and they spend a great deal of time verbally sparring with each other this season. The newcomers to the show are no slouches either. Veteran actor Jeff Fahey is memorable as helicopter pilot Frank Lapidus. Ken Leung has already become a series favorite as the sharp-tongued Miles Straume and while some fans have had a negative reaction towards Rebecca Mader’s Charlotte Lewis, it is hard to deny that she puts in a respectable performance here.Elizabeth Mitchell in Lost (2004)Jeremy Davies deserves special recognition for his portrayal of physicist – Daniel Faraday. Simply put, Davies’ is awesome as the polite and awkward scientist whose unique viewpoint of the island’s core mysteries is a benefit to the series. If given more screen time he would have probably stolen the show and he stands alongside Ben Linus and Desmond Hume as yet another exceptional new addition to the series.With the introduction of new characters and the already expanded Lost cast, some regulars take a step back and are not featured as prominently as you would expect. Most notable are series heavyweights Jack and Kate, who are present and accounted for, but see their roles slightly reduced as other characters are brought to the forefront. As the cast and story expand, it has obviously become a necessity to focus on a wider range of characters. The series’ writers are equal to the task and do a good job of handling a large cast without forgetting anyone in the mix.

 

REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN – SEASON 3

Starring

Lynda Carter (Supergirl)
Lyle Waggoner (The Carol Burnett Show)

Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Michael Lerner (Elf)
Leif Garrett (The Outsiders)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Craig T. Nelson (Poltergeist)
Ed Begley Jr. (Better Call Saul)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat)
Michael DeLano (Commando)
Wolfman Jack (Motel Hell)
Joan Van Ark (Knots Landing)
Eric Braeden (Titanic)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday The 13th 8)
Mako (TMNT)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Tim O’Connor (Buck rogers)
Sheryl Lee Ralph (Fam)
Judge Reinhold (Beverly Hills Cop)
Rick Springfield (Ricki and The Flash)
Barry Miller (Fame)
Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Bob Hastings (Batman: TAS)
Marc Alaimo (Star Trek: DS9)

Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)Wonder Woman still remains an icon to this day, thanks in many ways to the TV series and the performance of Lynda Carter in the lead role. As I stated in my Season 2 review, not many actresses could have pulled it off. But Lynda, however, had it, and still does. Between Seasons 1 and 2 of Wonder Woman things became a bit more modern. With Season 3 things seemed to change a bit more, and in my mind, for the better. Gone were the comic book-style captions. Although the comic book opening sequence and theme song were fun, it was nice to get something a little more serious for the third year. Diana Prince’s huge glasses also disappeared over time.Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)The Season 3 DVD set maintains a really nice packaging design that maintains the comic book roots of the original series while at the same time not looking cheesy. And, like I said, it’s nice to have all three sets side by side.Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)The set features commentary on the episode “My Teenage Idol Is Missing” with Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter. In the commentary, Ms. Carter talks about where she hoped the show would have ended, about the fads and feminism at the time of the show, and, of course, she talked about that episode’s guest star, then-teenage heartthrob Leif Garrett. (Leif did the rounds on late 70’s television during his pop star years… look for him also on other series such as CHiPs) Although it seemed that Carter had a list of things or a script she may have been referring to, it was really nice to hear her talking about it and even better considering it’s 25 years after the fact and she’s still willing to discuss it. The third season also features some of Wonder Woman’s alternative costumes, like the groovy motorcycle outfit, and she sometimes wears a cape.Wonder Woman (1975)Anyway, for comic book fans, or for fans of the Wonder Woman character, Wonder Woman is a great package, and a great series to own all the way through. I’ve only been able to watch a few of the episodes thus far, but the ones I’ve seen so far – particularly in this third season – I have liked a lot. Episodes that I haven’t watched yet, with titles like “The Boy Who Knew Her Secret,” sound very intriguing and I can’t wait to see more. Bonus! Look for guest stars like Craig T. Nelson, Ed Begley Jr., Joe E. Tata (“Nat” from 90210!), Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing!), Wolfman Jack, Knots Landing couple Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark, Rene Auberjonois, and Rick Springfield – all in the third season

 

REVIEW: DARK ANGEL -SEASON 1

Starring

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Michael Weatherly (Bull)
John Savage (American Romance)
Valarie Rae Miller (Crank)
J. C. MacKenzie (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Richard Gunn (Hemlock Grove)
Alimi Ballard (Sabrina: TTW)
Jennifer Blanc (The Victim)

Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Stanley Kamel (Domino)
Kristin Bauer van Straten (True Blood)
Paul Popowich (Rupture)
Douglas O’Keeffe (The Andromeda Strain)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Smallville)
Lauren Lee Smith (Mutant X)
Kim Hawthorne (Greanleaf)
Stephen Lee (Robocop 2)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Eileen Pedde (Juno)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Robert Lewis (Stargate SG-1)
Natassia Malthe (Elektra)
Steve Makaj (Two for The Money)
Tyler Labine (Tucker and Dale vs Evil)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Ty Olsson (X-Men 2)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Emily Tennant (Jennifer’s Body)
Christine Chatelain (Final Destination)
Abraham Benrubi (ER)
Byronn Mann (Arrow)
A.C. Peterson (Shooter)
Tony Perez (Once Upon a Time)
Lisa Rodríguez (Next Friday)
Brenda James (Slither)
William Gregory Lee (Xena)
Rodney Rowland (Veronica Mars)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Mike Weinberg (Home Alone 4)
Nicole Bilderback (Clueless)
Robert Gossett (Batman Returns)
Harsh Nayyar (Gandhi)
Brian Markinson (Wolf)
Lucia Walters (Stargate: Atlantis)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Patrick Kilpatrick (Eraser)
Alex Zahara (Horns)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)
Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill)
Zahf Paroo (The Good Doctor)
Susan Hogan (Warehouse 13)
Lawrence Pressman (American Pie)
Samantha Smith (Supernatural)
Rekha Sharma (The Core)
Craig Veroni (Cedar Cove)
Lisa Ann Cabasa (Buffy: TVS)
Rob LaBelle (Watchmen)
Shireen Crutchfield (House Party 3)
Ashley Crow (Heroes)
David Kaye (Siren)
Mark Rolston (Aliens)
Ian Tracey (Sanctuary)
Alex Carter (The Island)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Robert Floyd (Cold Hearts)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9)
James Kirk (She’s The Man)
Rainn Wilson (Star Trek: Discovery)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on a Plane)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Lorena Gale (Traitor)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Kris Pope (Josie and The Pussycats)
Joshua Alba (Alpha Dog)
Nicki Aycox (Jeepers Creepers 2)

Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)Dark Angel stars Jessica Alba (Idle Hands) as Max, a genetically-engineered supersoldier who escaped from an expectedly top-secret government facility as a child. Despite the passing of a full decade, the agents of Manticore, led by Donald Lydecker (John Savage), remain determined to retrieve their multi-million dollar killing machine. Max ekes out a living in a scarcely-recognizable 21st century Seattle, avoiding capture while trying to locate the brothers and sisters that fled from Manticore with her. Max’s search brings her in contact with underground cyberjournalist Logan Cale (Michael Weatherly), and together, they try to make Seattle a more palatable place while unveiling the secrets of Max’s past.Jessica Alba, William Gregory Lee, and Michael Weatherly in Dark Angel (2000)Just as Max is a genetically-engineered hybrid of various people and creatures, Dark Angel has been stitched together from the remnants of various other genre television series and movies. The most obvious point of comparison is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with its beautiful, sassy, headstrong, ass-kicking female lead, a predominately female supporting cast, and an older male mission-dispensing mentor with an answer to every question and a solution to every problem. Hell, both series have even had a recurring character named Kendra. Similarities can also be drawn to The Pretender, which features a gifted child raised in an isolated institutional setting and pursued in adulthood. Both series take every available opportunity to flash back to childhood and draw parallels to the present. The X-5s also bear a passing resemblance to the powerful young aliens of Roswell. Toss in a dollop of a Mad Max post-apocalyptic future for good measure, and you’re in the general ballpark.Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)By the time I’d waded through the 90-minute pilot and the other two episodes on disc one, I was fully prepared to write Dark Angel off as a loss, resigning myself to wading through another thirteen hours of mediocrity. The feature-length pilot carried a hefty price tag, touted at the time as the most expensive ever produced. I’m not sure how much of that reported $10 million made it on-screen or was siphoned off to line James Cameron’s wallet, but the end result is plodding and dull. Thankfully, Dark Angel improves after these early fumbles, though the quality remains uneven throughout. For every decent episode, there’s one as dismal as Red or Haven. Douglas O’Keeffe has been cast in enough movies and TV series that someone out there seems to think he has some modicum of talent, but not a glimpse of it is on display in his embarrassingly inept performance as Bruno in Red. Bruno isn’t the only carryover from the pilot. A disturbing amount of footage appears in flashback form, making it the most shameless rehash outside of a Silent Night, Deadly Night sequel. Haven consists of 43 of the most painfully boring minutes I’ve spent in front of my television this year, and even the most staunch fans of the series seem to consider it pretty dreadful.Jessica Alba and Douglas O'Keeffe in Dark Angel (2000)Dark Angel was, at least in part, a victim of Fox’s determination to air sci-fi programming on Friday night, a timeslot that has claimed such genre casualties as Firefly, The Lone Gunman, M.A.N.T.I.S., Harsh Realm, Strange Luck, and VR.5. Despite not attracting enough viewers to warrant a third season, Fox’s home video arm has enough confidence in Dark Angel’s fan base to release both seasons of the series in relatively quick succession.Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)Established fans of the series ought to find Dark Angel to be well-worth the modest asking price. As for the uninitiated, I wouldn’t recommend this set as a blind purchase. I’d suggest checking out at least a couple of episodes first, which admittedly might prove to be fairly tough seeing as how Dark Angel has been off the air for years now. If the premise sounds intriguing and you never got around to watching the series during its original run on Fox, I’d recommend this set.

REVIEW: BATMAN FOREVER

CAST
Val Kilmer (Kiss Kiss bang Bang)
Chris O’Donnell (Hawaii Five-O)
Tommy Lee Jones (Men In Black)
Jim Carrey (Bruce Almightyg)
Nicole Kidman (The Hours)
Michael Gough (Sleepy Hollow)
Pat Hingle (Talladega Nights)
Drew Barrymore (Charles Angels)
Debi Mazar (Collateral)
Rene Auberjonois ((Star Trek: DS9)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Jessica Tuck (Super 8)
Kimberly Scott (The Abyss)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Don Wilson (Bloodfist)
MV5BMTYzNzcyMjAwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzgwMzgwNw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1549,1000_AL_
In Gotham City, Batman stops a hostage situation in a bank caused by Two-Face, the alter ego of the disfigured former district attorney, Harvey Dent. However, Two-Face escapes. Edward Nygma, a researcher at Wayne Enterprises, develops a device to beam television directly to a person’s brain; Bruce Wayne—with whom Nygma is obsessed—rejects the invention, noting that it “raises too many questions”, and Nygma angrily resigns from his position after killing his supervisor Fred Stickley, and forging his suicide note and footage. Everybody except Bruce is convinced it was a genuine suicide. During a news report, it shows how Harvey Dent became Two-Face: While he was prosecuting Sal Maroni, Maroni threw acid in Harvey’s face; Batman tried to stop him but failed. After meeting Batman-obsessed psychiatrist Dr. Chase Meridian, Bruce invites her to a charity circus event. There, Two-Face and his henchmen storm the event in an attempt to discover Batman’s secret identity, and in the process murder The Flying Graysons, a family of acrobats who attempt to stop him. The youngest member, Dick, survives and throws Two-Face’s bomb into the river to detonate safely underwater but the rest of the family dies.
Bruce assumes responsibility for Dick and allows him to stay at Wayne Manor. Dick then declares his intention to kill Two-Face and avenge his family’s murder, and when he discovers Bruce’s secret identity as Batman, he insists on becoming his partner, “Robin”. Meanwhile, Nygma becomes a criminal known as the “Riddler”, the master of puzzles and quizzes and forms an alliance with Two-Face. The two work together to steal capital for the mass production and promotion of Nygma’s television device. Using his device, Nygma can read and control people’s minds, and steal their intelligence quotient. At a business party, Nygma discovers Bruce’s secret identity. Two-Face then attacks the party and almost succeeds in killing Batman, but Robin arrives just in time to save his life. Meanwhile, Chase realizes her love for Bruce surpasses her obsession with Batman, but soon discovers that they are one and the same. However, Two-Face and the Riddler later assault Wayne Manor. The Riddler enters the Batcave and destroys most of the equipment, while Two-Face kidnaps Chase; Bruce, meanwhile, is left another riddle.
After solving the last riddle, Batman and Robin locate Two-Face and the Riddler’s lair, Claw Island, where both are separated upon reaching the island. Robin then encounters Two-Face and manages to beat him to the ground; realizing that he does not have it in him to commit murder, Robin helps the villain back up. Two-Face pulls out a pistol and captures Robin. Meanwhile, Batman manages to make his way into the Riddler’s lair, where Robin and Chase are revealed as hostages, bound, gagged with duct tape and held over a watery chasm, giving Batman a choice of saving just one hostage. Batman finds a way to save both hostages, and manages to destroy the brainwave-collecting device. The device’s malfunction drives the Riddler into a mental breakdown in the process. During the battle, while Two-Face tosses his coin to decide Batman’s fate, Batman throws a handful of coins towards him, which causes him to lose his balance and fall to his death while searching for his coin. The Riddler is sent to Arkham Asylum, and Chase is asked to consult on his case. Nygma offers to reveal the identity of Batman to her, but he believes that he himself is Batman, due to his damaged memories. Chase then meets Bruce Wayne outside and tells him his secret is safe. Batman and Robin then continue to protect Gotham City from crime.
It really depends on your point of view, but I find Batman Forever a good film, whilst not as good as it’s predecessors, it is still a good film. The Light Night indeed.

REVIEW: GODZILLA (1998)

CAST

Matthew Broderick (Election)
Jean Reno (Leon)
Maria Pitillo (True Romance)
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons)
Kevin Dunn (Transformers)
Michael Lerner (Elf)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)
Doug Savant (Desperate Housewives)
Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl TV)
Derek Webster (Stargate)
Ali Afshar (Power Rangers Turbo)
James Black (Kick-Ass 2)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Ken Lerner (Robocop 2)
Lance Reddick (John Wick)

MV5BYzVjY2QyZjktMWQ5NS00OTZlLTk1NGQtY2Y0YmJiMWUxNjY5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzc5NjM0NA@@._V1_Roland Emmerich specializes in movies that are practically critic proof. He populates his films with amazing spectacle, blockbusters packed with explosions, disasters, and well known landmarks destroyed in various ridiculous ways — exactly what people want to see when they desire entertainment that won’t spoil the taste of their movie theater popcorn with intellectually challenging issues or drama. Emmerich therefore makes sure to keep things simple with his films, which means a sacrifice of character development and depth, logic, and general believability. Emmerich’s 1998 remake of Godzilla is no exception to the rule. While there’s a definite sense of grandeur and epic destruction, it is like a paper-mache pinata. When you hit it hard enough with a bat, there is certainly some disposable candy to be found. But what’s truly there is now a broken, empty hull that never really had any substance.MV5BNDI4M2RkZjgtZDhkZS00YzczLWFhYWUtNDhiMjY0MjAwMjEwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzc5NjM0NA@@._V1_

The plot manages to be simple and yet garbled. The US military recruits a humble Nuclear Regulatory Commission scientist, Niko Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick), to investigate some strange discoveries, namely a shipwreck with giant claw marks in the hull and equally giant footprints in the French Pacific. Before Niko figures out what’s really going on, a giant pregnant lizard starts attacking New York City. It lays eggs in Madison Square Garden and smashes up the skyline. There’s also some business with the French Secret Service, and Niko’s college sweetheart, but these subplots are thin and underdeveloped. The focus of the movie is really about a giant lizard destroying NYC.  What Emmerich gets right is the spectacle. While nothing on the scale of global destruction of his earlier Independance Day, he again shows that he knows how to deliver shock and awe in an entertaining way. The sequence where Godzilla chases a taxi through the streets of New York, and the taxi (defying all reason) desperately manages to evade the giant lizard is just one of many that simply work on a visual and visceral level. The action keeps a swift pace punctuated with destruction, distracting your brain with explosions and the like so you don’t have time to think about any flaws in logic that might come up. You can’t really knock the effects and the action sequences, even if the CGI of Godzilla seems a little clunky and obvious by modern standards. The reason Emmerich manages to keep getting audiences to come see his films is that he delivers pure eye candy, the kind that appeals to a mass audience.This would work just fine and dandy if Emmerich kept the pace plowing forward without pausing. Sadly, he takes the time to try and explain things. The instant the pace slows down and we return to the characters, we can’t help but notice that they’re cardboard cutouts, shambling around New York City having conversations that don’t sound anything like how real people talk. Every time we get into a slow sequence, there’s practically has a neon sign in the background flashing the word ‘Exposition’ just in case anyone was missing that fact. We are taken out of the action into these sequences that are utterly useless and draw attention to the weaknesses of Emmerich’s style. Lets face it, do any of us really care about the particulars of why Godzilla is smashing up New York? No. We just want him to carry on doing it, while we enjoy our buttery popcorn and big gulp sodas. Now, Emmerich does have a reason for this exposition. It’s a sad attempt to make us feel for this Godzilla creature. In many ways, he’s trying to set up this empathy, in that ‘the animal was just scared and doing what came natural, it didn’t want to hurt anyone’ sort of way. You see, Godzilla is rampaging New York just because he came to lay some eggs and make a nest. So it’s just Godzilla’s hermaphroditic mother bear rage, and who can’t empathize with that, right?

…Okay, yeah, it’s totally ridiculous and feels like the plot point was plucked straight from Jurassic Park. The entire effort to make Godzilla empathetic while at the same time more beastly and unintelligent than the old Toho version simply doesn’t work. Godzilla in this movie is a completely different creature than the familiar dinosaur of the Toho incarnation. Patrick Tatopoulos’ design is much more lizard-like, and is nominally more realistic looking (if giant monstrous lizards can be realistic at all). The difficulty here is that the beast is almost too based in reality. It’s just a giant grey lizard, with little true character or feeling of intelligence. When we get flooded by a ton of raptor-like baby-zillas, it’s again feels like an attempt to cash in on the success of Jurassic Park. This Godzilla, often mockingly labelled ‘Notzilla’, is so bland and characterless that we miss the joy of watching a Godzilla movie.  Emmerich’s movie gives us a generic monster with the name Godzilla slapped on, and it really isn’t worthy of the name.The human characters fare no better than the title character. You can easily sum up all of them in a single sentence. Niko Tatopoulos is the goodnatured scientist who’s still hung-up on his college sweetheart. Victor Palotti (Hank Azaria) is a snarky Brooklyn-born camera man. They get little backstory, and in most cases none. You simply take them at their face value, stereotypes that are tired yet familiar. If you form any sort of attachment to these characters, its for reasons external to the movie. Maybe you really love Ferris Bueller, and that will help you be attached to Niko. Personally, I’m a fan of Jean Reno, so I really only cared about his character solely on that basis. This is utterly ridiculous for a film, that we form no sort of real attachment. We have no reason to actually care if Godzilla actually murders them all. In fact, given how obnoxious some of the characters are, you might actually hope Godzilla wins. The most ridiculous of the characters is actually the mayor of New York. This is not merely a cardboard-depth character. It is a wafer-thin caricature of famous film critic Roger Ebert. Emmerich’s earlier films had been rightly blasted by the man, so Emmerich takes revenge in a childish and immature way. He places Ebert into the film as an inept, sleazy, sugar-guzzling political opportunist. Mayor Ebert is constantly making decisions for his own sake, not the good of the city. He’s probably the least sympathetic character in the whole film, and it just feels like a stupid joke gone too far. It detracts from the film immensely.

I also have to make note of something that is of no fault of the filmmakers. Godzilla was released in 1998, three years before the 9/11 tragedy. Every time you see NYC skyline, you can’t help but stare at the World Trade Center. The film even has a terribly creepy line from Harry Shearer’s reporter character, talking about how the initial devastation from Godzilla is “worst since the World Trade Center bombing.” Obviously, this is in reference to the 1993 bombing, but now it serves as a terrible reminder of the more recent tragedy. When the helicopters blow up the Chrysler building, it hits the viewer in a terrible and unsettling way, and a dreadful unease takes you out of the movie.
1-godzilla-1998-1438781993Emmerich brings nothing new to the giant monster table other than a large budget, creating something that is pure edifice and no real substance. His Godzilla is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing — which is really not too much of a problem for the undiscerning movie goer. Going back to the earlier analogy, there’s nothing wrong with a pinata full of candy. You just have to ignore the sad, broken hull that remains afterward. So either you can shut off your brain and enjoy this bastard child of Emmerich’s making, or you don’t bother and watch something like Cloverfield instead.