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Friday April 12th 2024

Godzilla | 1998

Godzilla filming location: Flatiron Building, New York
Godzilla location: tempting Zilla with a pile of fish: Flatiron Building, New York

Or just Zilla, as the film is known by devotees of the original Toho productions, who refuse to acknowledge this is a Godzilla movie at all. Perhaps the film would have fared better as Jurassic Central Park?

It’s not that terrible a film at all, apart from some klutzy humour, if you can get over the slight improbability of a creature the size of a skyscraper going missing in Manhattan. Even in mist.

The various places around the globe (Tahiti, Panama...), where clues begin to mount that something rather large is on the prowl, are all the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

‘Worm guy’ scientist Nick Tatapoulos (Matthew Broderick) finds himself standing unwittingly in a giant footprint at the Kualoa Ranch, 49-560 Kamehameha Highway, Ka’a’awa Valley. Zilla was not the first giant lizard to have passed this way. The ranch was the site of the Gallimimus stampede in Jurassic Park. It’s been featured in plenty of other films, too, and you’ll be delighted to know it’s open for tours.

Zilla makes his way across the Pacific and, clearly drawn by the irresistible aroma of fresh fish, arrives in Manhattan at the Fulton Fish Market on South Street alongside the East River. It stood at the east end of Fulton Street, beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, until relocating to the Bronx in 2005. The old market was also featured in Splash! and 2005 Will Smith rom-com Hitch.

Godzilla filming location: Federal Hall, Wall Street, New York
Godzilla filming location: the Mayor addresses a rally as Zilla appears: Federal Hall, Wall Street, New York

Mayor Ebert (Michael Lerner) is addressing a rally in front of Federal Hall, 28 Wall Street, at the base of the George Washington statue, when a cacophony of car alarms heralds the ground-trembling arrival of the lizard stomping along Broad Street. This is also where Oda Mae (Whoopi Goldberg) donates the four million dollars to “a bunch o'nuns” in Ghost.

Yes, like any first-time tourist, Zilla heads straight for the famous landmarks, lumbering south on Vanderbilt Avenue before turning into East 42nd Street to see Grand Central Station.

Tempted with a pile of yummy dead fish, the creature is lured to Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street in front of the Flatiron Building (otherwise known as the office of the Daily Bugle is Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man). Spooked by the ’copters, he carelessly knocks the gleaming top off the Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue at West 42nd Street.

More fish tempt Zilla to Central Park’s Sheep Meadow, where he’s ambushed by the military in front of the Plaza Hotel, Fifth Avenue at 59th Street, before turning tail and making his nest (with a couple of hundred eggs) inside Madison Square Garden, Seventh Avenue between West 31st and West 33rd Streets.

The military HQ is set up in New Jersey, on Essex Street at Hudson Street in the Paulus Hook area of Jersey City, directly opposite Battery Park City.

The beast is finally coaxed to the Brooklyn Bridge, to become entangled in the suspension cables, where it makes an easy target for the military.

Although the wide shots and scene setting are obviously the real New York, the film follows the regular Hollywood practice of filming street scenes in Los Angeles.

The approach to ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ is Seventh Street at Santa Fe Avenue, just east of downtown LA.

And the office of TV station WIDF, where Audrey (Maria Pitillo) works for conniving boss Caiman (Harry Shearer)? That’s the 1928 Title Insurance Building, 433 South Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles, with its beautiful art deco lobby, which was seen as a ‘Manhattan’ hotel in Pearl Harbor.