At the time, I hated the movie so much that when Phantom Menace came out a year later, I was virtually un-phased by it.
Everyone was all like "Oh my God! Jar Jar!" and "Oh my God! Pod Races!" and "Oh my God! Boring Political Stuff!" and I was like "They shot him...they just...shot him with missiles and he died. WHATS UP WITH THAT?!?!". The film kind of left me in a fog.
Now I was 13 at the time of the Tristar film's release and it is the first time I remember being excited for something and then being royally disappointed. Looking back on it, I should have known better but I was caught up in the mostly great marketing. I mean my God, that New Year's Eve trailer had me super stoked, but given who was involved in making the film, I should have realized what I was in for. I don't want to sound like I'm being too harsh on them, but the Independence Day guys specialize in schlock. That's what they do, so me expecting something grand and wonderful was pure youthful delusion and ignorance on my part.
I saw the film once in theaters and was like "Huh...that didn't just happen". Then I saw it again when it came out on video just to see if it would grow on me...it didn't. I still hated it, and I just couldn't believe how much they dropped the ball with Godzilla.
And for me, it goes beyond a redesign and CGI being used over practical effects. To me, they took a property that I loved and tried to mold it into something more digestible for American audiences, meaning, they tried to make this weird Jurassic Park/ID4 hybrid because those movies were super popular at the time. The end result was something that, as Toho put it, took the "God" out of "Godzilla".
And I was angry about it for a long time. Even after the 90s Heisei films finally got a Stateside release and the Millennium films came out with G2K getting a theatrical release in the states, I was still upset over what I considered to be an abomination.
Years passed and I decided to give it another chance around the time the Legendary film came out in 2014. OK, I still don't like it, but I've softened up towards it a little bit. And to be honest, it is hard for me to stay mad when I've gotten 8 live action Godzilla films since then (both US and Japanese), an animated trilogy, and an eventual showdown with Kong to look forward to. And also looking back on it, it was because of the release of the film that the 90s films finally got released in the states, and to be honest, the animated series that spun off from the movie was pretty solid, so its not like nothing good came out of it.
As for the movie itself, again, I am not the biggest fan of Emmerich and Devlin's work. At best, I enjoy ID4 for how ridiculous it is, because again, they specialize in high budget schlock. That said, Godzilla is probably their least awful film behind ID4. And there are some things I appreciated about the film. Jean Reno for starters is the best thing in the movie, and there are a few scenes that capture Godzilla's grandiose nature, most notably in the build up (The "Gojira" scene, the reveal of the footprint, etc.). Now there are things I still don't like, such as the Godzilla Vs. Military scenes, how he died, the inclusion of Godzilla's raptor babies, and the sheer insanity of Godzilla being able to HIDE in one of the largest cities in the world is still mindboggling to me. Those aspects of the film keep me from accepting it as a true Godzilla movie, but instead of being angry and bitter about it, I look back on it as a creative misfire and a product of the time period rather than a malicious intent to ruin something I love.
They tried something different. It didn't work. That's all.
And like I said, I've gotten so much Godzilla material since then, including a handful of the King's best movies (GMK, Shin, and heck, I enjoyed the Legendary film), the best Godzilla comic ever (Half Century War), and the best Godzilla video games ever made with DAMM, Save the Earth, and Unleashed (OK, not saying much, but still, they're better than what came before), that its hard for me to fixate on a 20 year old cinematic mishap.