GODZILLA

Stars: Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Hank Azaria, Maria Pitillo, Michael Lerner, Harry Shearer, Doug Savant. Written by Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich. Directed by Roland Emmerich. Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity.

Thereís gonna be a lot of disappointed moviegoers this summer. "Godzilla", made by the creators of the dumb but wildly popular "Independence Day", just doesnít deliver the thrills that audiences crave. This stems from a been-there/done-that/got-the-T-shirt feeling that is ultimately quite unshakable. The problem is that "Godzilla" seems to mimic several other movies, most of them being "Jurassic Park". I canít expand on this any further without revealing a major plot point, but suffice it to say that if youíve seen 1993ís dinosaur blockbuster and/or its sequel, youíve already seen this seasonís most hyped movie.

Nick Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick) is pulled off of his study of radioactively mutated worms when the American military discovers the existence of a monster of gigantic proportions. As fate would have it, this giant reptile, dubbed Godzilla by the oriental fisherman who first encounter him, is heading straight for New York. He crashes through the city, wrecking buildings and smashing cars, as part of a personal agenda that is first discovered by Nick. Meanwhile, the military blunders through a couple of ineffectual attacks on the beast only to discover that the threat he poses is much larger than originally thought.

"Godzilla" fumbles on so many fronts that itís hard to know where to begin complaining. Should I start with the hackneyed romance between Nick and a former- girlfriend-turned-aspiring-reporter, or the completely superfluous subplot which finds the French Secret Service attempting to destroy Godzilla themselves without revealing their presence to the Americans? Do I comment on the huge leaps of logic employed in the film, or do I point out where logic is completely disregarded? And, finally, are the feeble attempts at humor more noteworthy than the absence of excitement?

At least I can praise the quality of special effects, to an extent. While the state-of-the-art of computer-generated effects is growing at a phenomenal rate, the art of miniatures is evidently at a standstill because although the title creature is suitably impressive, the buildings he runs past on his rampages through the Big Apple are utterly unconvincing. Speaking of Godzilla himself, I was dismayed to find that he bears little resemblance to his rubber-suited progenitor and looks more like an ordinary reptile increased to parade-balloon dimensions.

This latest film featuring the beloved Japanese monster lacks the personality and campy fun that marked his earlier incarnations. While sure to rake in the big bucks initially, "Godzilla" should fizzle out once the hype and nostalgia wear off. Where is Spielberg when you need him?


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