A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Godzilla is the bombastic 1998 Hollywood blockbuster update of the 1956 Japanese film. This time giant Godzilla -- a mutated lizard created as the result of a French nuclear test -- roams Manhattan looking to lay eggs, destroying buildings and crushing cars in its path. Four French soldiers are killed by little Godzillas spawned from the eggs giant Godzilla lays in a nest at Madison Square Garden. The combined U.S. military forces, aided by the French foreign intelligence agency, deploy powerful weapons to subdue Godzilla (including bombs, air strikes, and torpedoes in the Hudson River), and there are lots of suspenseful chase scenes that could be too much for younger viewers -- with angry Godzillas chasing panicked humanity throughout the streets of Manhattan. There area a few jump-out-at-you surprises and many tense moments, and some smoking, particularly by the Frenchmen. Everything and everyone is super loud, but main characters somehow find a way to escape the gaping, drooling maws of the CGI monsters.
What's the story?
Nuclear testing has resulted in the mutation of a fish-loving lizard who seeks out Manhattan as an ideal place to lay eggs (he is a self-reproducing hermaphrodite). While Godzilla roars around knocking down buildings, bespectacled scientist Nick Tatapolous (Matthew Broderick) works with the U.S. Army and a mysterious group of Frenchmen to try to stop him, and Audrey (Maria Petillo), the girl who broke Nick's heart in college, tries to break into the broadcast reporting big leagues by getting the inside story.
Is it any good?
On the scariness scale, GODZILLA fits in at around the Jurassic Park level, with a few jump-out-at-you surprises and some tense moments. The special effects are state-of-the art, but not particularly innovative. There are some striking visuals and a few clever plot turns. But the movie sorely misses the quirky charm of Independence Day's Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, and the story never captures the heart. The real special effect in this movie is making it appear that Manhattan was evacuated almost instantaneously.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this 1998 version differs from the original 1956 Godzilla movie. What's most compelling, the story or the nonstop action?
If you're used to seeing Matthew Broderick in romantic comedies and quirky dramas, what do you think of him in an action movie loaded with special effects?
Why do you think so many movies have been made about the disastrous effects of nuclear testing?
- In theaters: May 20, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: November 3, 1998
- Cast: Harry Shearer, Jean Reno, Matthew Broderick
- Director: Roland Emmerich
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Ocean Creatures, Science and Nature
- Run time: 139 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sci-fi monster action/violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.