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Hank Azaria (left) can't believe he put down a Chief Wiggum script for the blatant highway robbery of movie goers everywhere.

Photos: Columbia/TriStar


Rating: D
Starring Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Hank Azaria, Maria Pitillo. Directed by Roland Emmerich. Rated PG-13, contains violence. Running time: 139.

KEVIN RIDOLFI | Never have more prophetic words been rapped as those by Public Enemy's Chuck D., who in 1988 warned: "Don't believe the hype." Now, a decade later, those words still ring true. It'll take a nation of millions indeed, more aptly it took a marketing budget of millions to fleece a country.

If hype were helium, Godzilla would win best giant balloon at the Macy's parade. Unfortunately for TriStar pictures, this isn't a thanksgiving celebration and "Godzilla" is sinking like a lead zeppelin.

Hype. Billboards everywhere broadcast their childish anthem "Size is Everything." Evidently size falls somewhere far behind plot, inventiveness and quality writing. Don't believe the hype. The little Taco Bell dog pleaded for a bigger box when he should have been asking for a mammoth coffin.

"Godzilla" is obviously based on the classic 1954 Japanese release of the same name. Even then, the plots where ridiculous and the effects staged, but somehow you knew the intention was tongue-in-cheek spoof. Director Roland Emmerich's updated Godzilla takes itself too seriously and falls flat as a result.

Emmerich provides the audience with cold and stale leftovers. Ill-devised plot aside, the special effects were anything but special. Hollywood's biggest marketing technique for poorly written movies is to trumpet the effects. "Godzilla" borrows a lot, but brings nothing new to the table.

The creature is a blatant ripoff from the Jurassic Park movies right down to the hunched forward stride. Dark, narrow New York streets are strangely similar to the claustrophobic corridors of the "Alien" movie set, as are the repetitive chase scenes.

Godzilla, a product of nuclear testing, has travelled to New York City to nest, a point which Nick Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick) guesses without explaination -- or surprise for that matter. When the asexual (tones of Jurassic Park again) lizard lays its eggs, the nest is once again a throw back of the Mother Alien's nest in "Aliens."

It's sorry to see that with all that fabulous technology and plot possibilities at their disposal that Emmerich and company must rely on "been there, done that" effects and a tired, disposable plot. And to cap it off with nesting, an obvious and greedy sequel manuever.

Hank Azaria is the only actor of the bunch worth watching, though his million voices are wasted in such a role. Broderick stands around gaping at the creature whenever he gets the chance -- again, there's someone like that in every movie. Maria Pitillo ("House Rules") is on screen for her pretty face not her acting ability. As Broderick's love interest, there is absolutely no chemistry between the two and she comes off as a self-absorbed moron.

With the amount of hype before "Godzilla's" release, it is no surprise that the movie is a giant dud, after all we were warned.

KEVIN RIDOLFI of Pawtucket, RI, is the creator and editor of Renaissance Online Magazine. He can be reached at kridolfi@renaissancemag.com

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