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‘Godzilla’: The biggest monster

Lapacazo Sandoval | 5/9/2014, 11:08 a.m.
Combine every famous woman, man, child, superhero and archvillain who ever dared to make a dent in the cultural lexicon, ...
A scene from Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ epic action adventure “Godzilla.” Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Combine every famous woman, man, child, superhero and archvillain who ever dared to make a dent in the cultural lexicon, and they won’t come close to the popularity achieved by the one, the only, international superstar—Godzilla!

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures unleash the newest and best installment by visionary new director Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”), with an international cast led by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Kick-Ass”), Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe (“The Last Samurai”), Elizabeth Olsen (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”), Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”) and Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”).

Listen up, children of all ages: “Godzilla” is finally in the hands of revered masters who love the misunderstood top-of-the-evolutionary-food-chain champ as much as the rest of the world does. Under Edwards’ vision, the work of visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel (three-time Academy Award-winner for his work on Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy), combined with the surgical precision of producers Thomas Tull, chairman and CEO of Legendary Pictures, which produces billion-dollar blockbusters like “The Dark Knight” trilogy; Jon Jashni (“Pacific Rim”); and Mary Parent (Disruption Entertainment, “Noah”) have created a new horror fantasy benchmark that future filmmakers will seek to replicate.

The 1954 film, Ishiro Honda’s groundbreaking, iconic “Godzilla,” which was produced by Japan’s Toho Co. Ltd, was a revered reference point for this creative team. The allegorical subtext not withstanding, those same deep, dark fears that gripped a post-nuclear world in the 1950s still exist.

When modern-day Godzilla is suddenly awoken by another ancient creature whose craving for nuclear energy threatens to unhinge worlds, it’s clear that “trouble” isn’t the accurate word to describe the precarious predicament the world now faces.

“Let them fight” is the war cry uttered by the exasperated Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Wantanabe) when attempting to dissect an impossible crisis.

Nature can’t be controlled.

I refuse to give a single spoiler.

Every frame leads toward an absolutely satisfying third act. When the big boy finally roars, causing rippling chills from head to toe, you know that a new classic has arrived.

Here’s what Tull had to say about bringing life to a legend and making money in Hollywood the old-fashioned way—earning it!

AmNews: The collective body of work produced by Legendary Pictures are films that I’ve actually paid to see. What I’ve gleaned is that your films respect the audiences’ intelligence. Fluke?

Tull: Thank you for that observation. Our team makes films we want to see. We are the audience, so thank you for sharing that. If the Legendary Pictures logo is on it, it’s important to us to give our best.

Outside of Hollywood circles, most people don’t understand the sheer power that your company wields. Legendary Pictures finances their own projects, like the billion-dollar Christopher Nolan blockbuster trilogy “The Dark Knight” and the terrific gem “42.”

You could have asked any director to make “Godzilla.” When did you know 100 percent that the $160 million budgeted film was safe in young Gareth Edwards’ hands?

First, true, we are not playing with other people’s money. Plus, we make films that we would want to see, and that’s important.

Well, I loved Gareth’s first film “Monsters” because of the relationships established in the tiny gem. Then he and I spent quality time together and my admiration grew.

I said, “OK, we’re going to give you the resources to make a cool film.” So Gareth did three visual pre-tests to give us all an idea on how this film was going to look: The bridge scene, the complicated sequences in Hawaii and, finally, the halo [jumping sequence].

When the lights came up in our screening room, then I knew 100 percent!

I’ve always loved Godzilla, and this film made me love the big boy!

I like him too. The preview audiences have made us all feel proud.

I cheered when Godzilla roared, and I’m 100 percent sure—knocking on wood—that the global audience will cheer too!

OMG. You knocked wood! Thank you ... thank you very much.

“Godzilla,” opening May 9, is rated PG-13. Legendary Pictures is a division of Legendary Entertainment.