ROLAND EMMERICH and Dean Devlin's Godzilla has been savaged by those most ferocious of beasts - movie critics. The reception of the blockbuster in the American press as it opened on May 19 was unenthusiastic to say the least - with negative write-ups out-numbering positive ones by about 2:1.
Review after review made the same criticisms: the monster itself looked like 'a shaky, two-dimensional photographic image blown-up and inserted into an enlarged tourist postcard,' according to the New York Times, which went on to say that the script was 'so slapdash it makes Independence Day look like Henry James'. The Washington Post said the movie was an 'over-hyped, half-cocked and humourless resurrection of dear old Godzilla'. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times said the film 'offers nothing but soulless technique' (Ebert himself is parodied in the film, but the critic took it well, expecting 'Mayor Ebert' to get squashed - he's not). Variety criticized the 'banal dialogue', 'oddly generic-looking' creature and complained that the monster movie was 'conspicuously lacking in heart'.
Self-styled fans of the classic Godzilla also voiced dissent: 'A pregnant, phlegm-spitting, scampering titmouse,' was how the Godzilla News website's Aaron Smith described the Americanized creature. 'It just was a total let-down,' he commented. A strong voice of support was the LA Times. 'An expertly designed theme-park-ride of a movie,' it said, finding few flaws (not even Maria Pitillo's performance which was severely panned by most reviewers).
We know already what our own Alan Jones thought of Godzilla... but we're going to have to keep you in suspense until next month for the verdict. UK cinema-goers can judge for themselves when the movie arrives on July 17.
Joy to the World
Visitors to the 9th, and most prestigious, X-Files interactive Expo held in New York recently, were subject to an eXtra special bonus. Star guest Gillian Anderson wowed the crowd with her impromptu rendition of the classic Creedance Clearwater Revival hit Joy to the World. Avid fans of the series will remember it as the song Scully sings, arms wrapped around Mulder, in the middle of the Detour episode.
Asked to sing a few bars, Gillian exposed her natural, very un-Special Agent-like persona by launching into "Jeremiah was a bullfrog..." with great gusto. "I'm going to sing it like Scully," she warned. She went on to delight the 7,000-strong audience even further by encouraging them to sing along with her. A rousing chorus then ensued, with Anderson pausing at one point to mischieviously claim she was glad she wasn't the only bad singer in the auditorium that day. (By Thomasina Gibson)
Chris Carter's Millennium has been officially renewed by Fox for a third season. Although the retooled, more supernaturally-based second season (under Executive Producers Glen Morgan and James Wong) still scored relatively low ratings, it did well in the advertiser-friendly young adult demographic. The tense, plague-filled second season finale left the fate of several regular characters (as well as millions of human beings) in doubt (though Frank and Jordan Black are safe).
Fox TV's Peter Roth stated that next season Millennium will undergo yet more changes, with Frank Black moving (with Jordan) from "the dreary Pacific Northwest" to Washington DC to consult for the FBI. He will also have "two young FBI" agents to work with.
The supernatural revival continues with The Mark which will star Will Smith, re-teaming him with Independence Day's Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin (but only in a producing capacity). The Mark is a comicbook-style story about a man who has supernatural powers passed onto him by an elderly figure. Filming is set for late this year or early '99. Smith will next be seen in The Wild, Wild West.
Director Roman Polanski (Rosemary's Baby) returns to the occult with the thriller The Ninth Gate, starring Johnny Depp, which is about to start filming. Frank Langella (Deep Space Nine and 1979's Dracula) and Lena Olin join the cast.
In a surprise development, Arnold Schwarzenegger has become involved with the planned sequel to Total Recall. The budget was not likely to be higher than the original ($80m) although if Arnie appears, his usual circa $20m fee may change that. The film is being made by Miramax subsidiary Dimension - famed for their normally more moderately budgeted genre productions like Scream and Mimic (which was their most expensive movie to date at a cost of $28m).
Dimension has been in talks with Star Trek's Jonathan Frakes to direct Total Recall 2. Frakes is currently directing and starring in the ninth Trek motion picture - which, true to form, has had its title changed again from Prime Directive to Rebellion (this may not be final!).
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is to get a spin-off show starring Angel (David Boreanaz), the good-natured vampire and on/off boyfriend of Buffy. The show, which is planned to début later next year, will feature Angel fighting evil in Los Angeles (plenty of it there!).
Reports describe Matt (The Simpsons) Groenings new slice of animated weirdness, Futurama, as The Simpsons as if every episode was a Treehouse of Horrors [Halloween] Special. The futuristic series (about an Earth man who awakes from being frozen hundreds of years in the future and ends up travelling the galaxy with a bunch of aliens) is being produced by the animators of Ren and Stimpy, though the character designs are said to be very Simpsons-like. Futurama will first appear in the US early in 99 and has a deal to be made for at least two years.
[Godzilla] itself looked like 'a shaky, two-dimensional photographic image blown-up and inserted into an enlarged tourist postcard,' according to the New York Times, which went on to say that the script was 'so slapdash it makes Independence Day look like Henry James'.