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News Arts Editor Jeff Simon nicely summed up the return of cinema’s most fierce amphibians: “He’s big. And loud. And ugly. And fiery. And, he’s back.”

“Godzilla,” the movie monster that launched a zillion nightmares and – seemingly – almost as many imitators, is expected to draw box-office-busing crowds into theaters to see him stomping unsuspecting souls and buildings.

In his review in this week’s Gusto, Simon gave the film 3 1/2 stars and called it “a great monster movie.”

Here’s what some other critics had to say:

• Robert Levin of amNewYork gave it 2 1/2 stars, saying: “… The movie’s best moments are centered on the portent of doom, the sense that an ominous and inexplicable force threatens the planet. It plays like a conspiracy thriller mixed with a survival story. Then Godzilla and his rival beasts take over, in scenes filled with impressive CGI but an utter lack of human interest. The picture becomes a grimier, humorless version of last summer’s ‘Pacific Rim’ at that point, when the roaring, stomping and clashing beasts at skyscraper heights demolish the people on the ground in both a literal and a figurative sense.”

• A.O. Scott of the New York Times was muted in his praise: “This ‘Godzilla,’ though it surpasses Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Hollywood version, remains safely within the bounds of the modern action movie spectacular. It is at once bloated and efficient, executed with tremendous discipline and intelligence and conceived with not too much of either.”

• Steve Persall of the Tampa Bay Times gave it a C and wanted more of the big fella: “How do you hide a 200-foot, city-stomping, radiation-breathing monster like Godzilla? More to the point, why would you want to? Sure, there’s something to be said for teasing an audience, like Steven Spielberg with his peekaboo shark in Jaws, ratcheting up anticipation of what’s eventually to come. But at some juncture – much earlier than director Gareth Edwards intends – Godzilla needs to stop being an extra in his own movie.”

• Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wanted more of a human element, which is why he have it 2 stars out of 4: “The visuals are impressive – these days, they usually are. … The movie’s big visual showpiece is a monster battle taking place in downtown San Francisco. It’s just monsters breaking things in a powdery haze of pulverized plaster, and, to its credit, the scene really does look like it’s actually happening. Still, without any human participation of any importance, it’s hard to get worked up about any of it – and that’s even if you happen to be watching the movie in downtown San Francisco.

• “Ditto” said Cary Darling of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, with a 2 out of 5 score: “The ‘Godzilla’ reboot perfectly illustrates the problem that has long haunted mediocre monster movies. When the big, scaly guys are on screen, it’s a fun thrill ride. But when the humans are at the center of the action, things get scary – and not in a good way.”