The Worst Godzilla Movie Led to a Great Animated Sequel Show


Summary

  • Godzilla
    1998 may have been a dud, but it led to the beloved and underrated sequel,
    Godzilla: The Series
    .
  • Despite criticism for the lack of classic Godzilla elements, the series brought back atomic breath and familiar designs.
  • Godzilla: The Series
    appealed to both kids and older audiences, setting a high bar for Western adaptations of the kaiju.



Ask any fan, and they will tell you that not all Godzilla films and projects are made equally. Since the ‘King of Monsters’ appeared in the 1954’s Gojira, there have been 38 films spread across different eras: the Showa era (1954-1975), the Heisei era (1984-1995), the Millennium era (1999-2004), the MonsterVerse (2014-), and the Reiwa era (2019-). Throughout all these iterations, the giant has found fans and audiences often have a hard time agreeing on the best films in the larger franchise.

Still, out of all the movies made to carry the kaiju’s name, Godzilla 1998 is almost universally despised, yet something good came out of the panned film. We will examine how Godzilla 1998 led to a fan-favorite and underrated sequel.


The Cataclysmic Failure of Godzilla 1998


Before even looking at Godzilla 1998 in terms of content, in which there is a bit more wiggle room for taste, the Roland Emmerich adaptation of the beloved Japanese kaiju was an undeniable dud at the box office. It fell drastically short of its predicted box office, landing at $55 million domestically during its opening weekend when it was expected to gross $90 million. The film still turned a profit, earning $376,000,000 off a budget of $125,000,000, but it was a far cry from what TriStar Pictures had expected, and they abruptly canceled the two planned sequels.

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There is reason to believe there would be diminishing returns even if Tristar went ahead with the sequels. While Roland Emmerich had proven himself a titan of sci-fi coming off of both Independence Day (1996) and Stargate (1994) previously, the adaptation of Godzilla lacked many of the elements that made Emmerich a huge name in the genre as well as missed the mark on adapting the Japanese behemoth. Reviews were overly harsh, with Robert Ebert calling the production a “soulless exercise” that offered “nothing but cold-hearted, mechanistic vision, so starved for emotion or wit.” For the existing fans of Godzilla, the lack of atomic breath and a rather mundane lizard-like appearance that did not match the iconic monster left many in disdain for the Americanization of the screen icon.


The film even received criticism from the company that introduced the monster to the screen, with a representative from Toho stating that America “took the ‘God’ out of Godzilla” (via ScreenRant). Still, some good came out of the flop of a film, with it resulting in a sequel/spin-off to the movie that was well-received, at least in a different medium.

Godzilla: The Series Is the Underrated Sequel to Godzilla 1998

Godzilla: The Series was released on September 12, 1998, and ran for two seasons, ending on April 22, 2000. The series follows Dr. Nick Tatopoulos, played by Matthew Broderick in the feature film, who discovers the surviving offspring of Godzilla in the ruins of Madison Square Garden and begins to raise the mini-Godzilla. It soon grows and becomes an ally of all humanity, helping Dr. Nick and his team, H.E.A.T (Humanitarian Environmental Analysis Team), fight against all sorts of emerging creatures.


Godzilla: The Series was created by Jeff Cline and Richard Raynis, with Raynis best known as a producer on the iconic TV series The Simpsons. Ian Ziering would end up voicing Dr. Nick Tatopoulos; Ziering is best known for his lead role in the Sharknado series as Fin Shepard. The show would also host various talented and well-known voice actors, including Tom Kenny of SpongeBob SquarePants fame. The show would air on Fox Kids.

The cartoon has retained a cult following to this day, with many of the changes welcome, particularly considering how poorly received Godzilla 1998 was in comparison. The show offered a more familiar vision of the ‘King of Monsters,’ including giving him back powers such as atomic breath. While the series did not take on any other classic Toho monsters, Godzilla: The Series offered more familiar designs to Godzilla’s universe that felt closer to the kaiju films fans love, with the series introducing a series of mutated creatures to stop. This included designs like “Cyber Godzilla,” an obvious homage to Mecha Godzilla.


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Despite this being a series aimed at kids, it did give American audiences the first glimpse of a competent Western adaptation of Godzilla. It also managed to draw in an older audience craving more kaiju content. Since then, Godzilla has become a behemoth at the box office, especially with the willingness of regular audiences to watch subbed movies increasing since the ’90s; Godzilla Minus One exceeded box office expectations, grossing $105.4 Million worldwide ($56 million in the US) off of a 15 million dollar budget. Still, Godzilla: The Series remains a stand-out of the era that ended up eclipsing its source material in quality and fanfare.


Where to Watch Godzilla: The Series

Godzilla faces off against another monster in the animated series Godzilla: The Series
Fox Kids

Godzilla: The Series is currently unavailable to stream or rent. However, you can find full episodes for free on YouTube, allowing you to revisit the loved kid’s cartoon or discover it for the first time. Alternatively, if you want to try to take the dive and give the ’90s flop another chance, you can watch Godzilla 1998 on Max. Still, with Max home to most Godzilla films, there is ample opportunity to experience the best of the ‘King of Monsters.’




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