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Godzilla goes out in a blaze of overkill

''We need to captivate you alive!" reads one of the many, uh, whimsical subtitles in the latest Godzilla movie, ''Godzilla: Final Wars." On the contrary, this 28th entry in Toho Studio's series about the fire-breathing big fella is campily engaging for a while, but at two hours-plus you may come out feeling captivated dead.

Let's say that you're a longtime fan of these tatty rubber-suit smackdowns, though -- that you have an acquired taste for psychedelic monsters tromping rinky-dink model buildings and tanks into bits of plastic rubble. ''Godzilla: Final Wars" may be too much of a good thing, since it calls on seemingly every monster in Toho's basement. There's Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (dear to this critic from endless Saturday afternoon showings on Channel 56 back in the day), Mothra, Rodan, Gigan, the flying armadillo thingy named Anguirus, Mamakuras (a lobster on steroids), and, weirdest of the bunch, King Caesar, who looks like a cross between an angry Shinto deity and an Ewok having a bad hair day. Even Godzilla's kid, Minilla, shows up, as well as those two freaky miniature women from ''Mothra."

On top of this college reunion, director Ryuhei Kitamura (''Versus") lards a top-heavy plot that borrows liberally from ''The Matrix," ''Independence Day," and ''Star Wars." Let's see if I've got this straight: The Earth Defense Force and its strategically deployed team of mutant fighters keep all monsters under control until a Xilian spaceship arrives to unleash them at once, leading to a worldwide plummet in downtown real-estate values. Led by a sneering young alien dude (Kazuki Kitamura), the Xilians intend to harvest humans for food, but fighting back are a plucky UN biologist named Miyuki (Rei Kikukawa), an earnest warrior named Ozaki (Masahiro Matsuoka), and an American captain named Gordon (Michael Croaker) who looks like Joseph Stalin and talks like Sergeant Rock.

''The Matrix" influence extends to slow-motion bullets, 360-degree freeze-pans, and Ozaki's understanding of his divine purpose -- but, really, all this tosh accomplishes is to pad ''Godzilla: Final Wars" for a good 35 minutes longer than is necessary. Godzilla himself doesn't even show up for the first hour and a half, since he's kept on ice under the South Pole specifically for occasions like this. After a while the shoot-outs, fistfights, and bellowing latex bleed into one unending blur, and you find yourself actively pining for the earth to be destroyed so the end credits can come up.

''Godzilla: Final Wars" is supposedly the final installment in the series, but that's probably just talk: The last we see of our scaly hero, he's striding off into the sea unharmed. With any luck, he's headed to retirement in Florida, where lazy days of shuffleboard with Ghidrah and King Caesar await.

Ty Burr can be reached at

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