Plagiarism, thy name is Roland Emmerich.

It's hard to think of any filmmaker who has made such a fortune by stealing from other directors. Box-office popularity aside, "Stargate" was little more than "Star Wars" grafted onto Egyptian mythology, while "Independence Day" was an uncredited remake of "War of the Worlds."So given Emmerich's tendency to not credit his "inspirations," maybe we should be thankful that he mentions Japanese movie studio Toho Co., which created Godzilla. Of course, his new $100 million-plus film has little in common with the Toho movies, save for visuals of a giant creature leaving wreckage in its wake.

(For those who care, the new beast looks like a cross between an iguana and the Rancor monster from "Return of the Jedi" instead of a guy in a rubber suit).

Actually, this too-long, sci-fi/thriller resembles nothing so much as "Jurassic Park" and its lesser sequel, "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," both made by a far better director - some gent named Spielberg, who managed to create a lot more tension and much more interesting characters.

That's not to say that the new "Godzilla" is unwatchable. If you can't enjoy the sight of New York City being crushed, there's something wrong with you (or you're a native New Yawker). But at two hours and 15 minutes, there needed to be more to the story - at least if you're older than 12.

The story opens in the south Pacific, as a Japanese trawler is attacked by a mysterious creature. The sole survivor of the incident keeps murmuring one word over and over again: "Gojira" (a tip of the hat to Godzilla's original Japanese name).

Meanwhile, nuclear biologist Nick Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick) is sent to investigate mysterious huge footprints in Panama. But he gets to see the beast that created them sooner than expected. The huge reptile has surfaced in Manhattan and goes on a destructive rampage.

This leads to a showdown between the creature and the U.S. Army (guess who wins?). At the same time, Nick has discovered the beast has laid hundreds of eggs (in Madison Square Garden!). So with the help of a French hunter (Jean Reno) and a renegade news crew (Hank Azaria and Maria Pitillo), he tries to destroy the hatchlings before they overrun the city.

The latter scene is particularly troublesome, because it's so derivative of the raptor attacks in "Jurassic Park" (as well as the "Alien" movies). And the action is played straightforwardly, which is a mistake when the premise is so goofy.

Emmerich and co-writer Dean Devlin also make the mistake of having too many characters (who wind up becoming caricatures).

The jokes don't work as well here as they did in "Independence Day," either.

"Godzilla" is rated PG-13 for monster mayhem and carnage (as well as some vicious attacks by the baby monsters), profanity, a couple of vulgar gags, a couple of brief gory effects and brief male partial nudity (a sumo wrestling match seen on a television screen).