Stream The Most Controversial Godzilla Movie On Max

By TeeJay Small | Published

These days, the Godzilla IP seems to be in its prime, with numerous stabs at the iconic monster franchise churning out modern classics. The recent Japanese production Godzilla Minus One has become a major international hit and even received attention from the Oscars, while the American Godzilla franchise has seen huge blockbuster success. The first time an American film studio attempted a take on Godzilla, however, resulted in the most controversial monster film ever made, with fans around the world still debating whether or not the movie earned its title.

Godzilla ’98 Was Supposed To Launch A Trilogy

The 1998 Godzilla film originally went into production when Tristar Pictures picked up the rights to the Kaiju IP for an American production in 1992. The project was originally pitched as a trilogy of Godzilla movies, though the sequels were ultimately canceled following the lukewarm reaction to the first outing. The film was written and directed by disaster film icon Roland Emmerich, who has also helmed projects such as Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and White House Down.

A New Origin

Godzilla also touts an ensemble cast of incredibly talented performers, including Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Kevin Dunn, Michael Lerner, and The Simpsons‘ Hank Azaria. The film centers on a Nuclear Regulatory Commission scientist named Nick Tatopoulos, who travels the world researching nuclear responses in worms and other small creatures. After a nest of lizards is exposed to significant radioactive fallout in French Polynesia, Tatopoulos is tasked by the United States government with investigating a creature leaving a trail of wreckage headed directly for New York City.

A New Godzilla

Before long, Tatopoulos and his military caravan discover Godzilla, as audiences have never seen it before, with a sleek metallic redesign that has become the subject of much discussion in the years following the film. Military attempts to contain or destroy the massive creature continually fail, prompting Tatopoulos to team with a journalist and a member of the French secret service to contain the monster through unconventional methods. Apparently the French government were aware of their accidental role in creating Godzilla from the beginning, and have sent undercover French nationals into the United States illegally to cover up their involvement.

Not A Typical Godzilla Movie

If none of that sounds like the plot of a proper Godzilla movie to you, you’re not alone, as critics and audiences alike have maintained that the film completely fails at adapting its source material. While many fans argue that the film would be a terrific generic monster film without the Godzilla label, others take issue with the dated special effects, bizarre writing, and narrative focus on character relationships which inexplicably make the film something of a rom-com.

A Blockbuster Director

To make things even stranger, Roland Emmerich took the opportunity to helm Godzilla as an excuse to antagonize beloved film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert for their poor reception of his previous films. Characters who resemble the pair were written into the film and are even named after the iconic reviewer duo. Siskel and Ebert hilariously responded to their doppelg√§nger presence in the movie by offering a scathing review and demanding to know why their characters weren’t eaten by the eponymous monster, which seemed, to them, like the obvious choice.

Plans For American Godzilla Fell Through

In the years since Godzilla premiered, Tristar allowed their rights to the IP to lapse, prompting Japan’s Toho Entertainment to rebrand the Tristar iteration of the creature as “Zilla.” Zilla was subsequently depicted in the 2004 film Godzilla: Final Wars, wherein the inferior lizard is rapidly dispatched by the clunky dinosaur version of the monster we all know and love.

Godzilla ’98 Has Its Fans

For those who still love Roland Emmerich’s 1998 take on Godzilla, the film is available to stream on Max. Just be aware that professing your support of the film may result in an all-out assault from other Godzilla fans who prefer more faithful adaptations of the iconic creature, like the one seen in Minus One.