"Godzilla" stomps into movie theaters this weekend, and that screaming that you hear coming from the theaters should be screams of joy from monster movie fans.
This isn't another cheesy science fiction flick where a man in a rubber suit smashes up a miniature city, but rather a highly entertaining piece of popcorn filmmaking that actually feels like a serious drama at times.
Much of that mood comes from the movie's atypical casting of serious actors, rather than pretty boy matinee idols. Bryan Cranston leads the cast playing a scientist who's trying to figure out why mutant monsters are rising out of the sea to destroy many of the world's most scenic cities.
Oh, who am I kidding? Cranston only stars until up the giant green lizard and his mutant insect pals show up and lay waste to everything on the screen.
The good news is that those computer generated monsters do look fantastic, striking a nice balance between contemporary standards for special effects and the old Japanese movies.
The sound design is also quite impressive, making the scenes of city destruction into very thrilling popcorn spectacles. If the destruction sequences are the litmus test of any "Godzilla" movie, then this latest version passes with flying colors.
That being said, some fans may get a bit impatient for that mayhem to begin, as director Gareth Edwards keeps "Big Stompy" off the screen for the first half of the film.
That monster tease proves to be a wise decision, as it builds anticipation to the point that spontaneous applause broke out at the preview screening when Godzilla finally made his first full appearance.
Godzilla proves to be a great creation, but the rest of the cast pales in comparison. In fairness, it's hard to fault the puny human actors who are forced to share the screen with a movie monster that's 30 stories tall.
For the most part, the human cast simply runs around, connecting the plot points and giving the audience some people to cheer for. We want to see our heroes survive the carnage, but we'd rather see Godzilla knock over buildings even more.
The bottom line is that "Godzilla" is a quintessential summer blockbuster, so you can expect plenty of spectacle but not a whole lot of actual human drama. The cast gets lost at times, but audiences will mostly be there to see the special effects, so they probably won't mind.
Those special effects are quite thrilling, which should make "Godzilla' into one of this summer's monster hits.
Three Stars ***