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ROB HEDELT reviews movies and TV shows,  and is a  columnist for The Free Lance-Star. You can email him at

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With mix of cool special effects and a touch of camp, “Godzilla” a winner

“Godzilla” slams into theaters this weekend with a roar and a wink, mixing the campy touch of the old sci-fi monster series with enough modern special effects to make fans of action movies smile.

It’s a creature-driven feature, with the human cast far subjugated to the imperial Godzilla and two bug-like monsters he shows up to take down.

Who knew ol’ Zilla was a good guy?

Well, not so much defender of humanity as friend of the planet, a top of the heap predator that exists to keep nature in balance. Which in this case, means battling the unnatural giant bugs, aberrations created by man’s nuclear excesses.

Is the film too long and does it overdo disaster images we’ve seen many times before, like huge waves washing cars and buses down a flooded street or monsters taking out chunks of big bridges? Sure.

But because it doesn’t get lost in all sorts of campy subplots about people affected by the battles of these titans, the movie it moves surely from the discovery of the destructive bug creatures to the battle with ’Zilla that has to happen.

Though there’s plenty of death and destruction—whole blocks are wiped out from Tokyo to San Fran—it’s largely sci-fi and monster violence. And that means young teens who can handle the conflict won’t have to deal with lots of blood and gore.

It does take a while to get this tale really cranking, as a personal tragedy suffered by a plant engineer (Bryan Cranston) morphs through a jump forward in time into the tale of super-sized reptiles and bugs.

But once the monster-sized action kicks in, it’s pulse- and city-pounding moments from then on.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Savages”) is up to the role as the engineer’s son who becomes the character we follow through the conflict.

But don’t take any of this too seriously. It’s just an excuse for some pretty cool action, all with a nod back to the campy, Japanese Godzilla flicks that started it all.

And because the big boy himself swims away at film’s end to live another day, it’s a pretty good bet the monster with a penchant for knocking down large buildings will be back.













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