Hollywood revives Godzilla, Japan’s ‘king of monsters’

LOS ANGELES- Godzilla — born in a post-war Japan traumatized by Hiroshima — gets eye-popping special effects in his latest Hollywood remake, combined with a reflection on the nuclear threat.

The giant reptile, the rights for whom are still owned by Japanese studio Toho, was already adapted by Hollywood in 1998, with German disaster movie director Roland Emmerich at the helm.

For the new version, which is released in North America on Friday (May 16), Hollywood giant Warner Bros put Godzilla’s fate in the hands of Briton Gareth Edwards, who made independent sci-fi flick “Monsters” (2010).

A fan of the original 1954 “Godzilla” by Ishiro Honda, the director recalled in a recent round table with reporters that the film — which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year — was “plainly a metaphor for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

“I think that’s why it stood the test of time, cause it’s got some meat on the bone,” he added.

Since 1954, Toho has produced no fewer than 28 “Godzilla” films, mostly with modest special effects, and B-movie scripts and tone.

The Warner Bros version is vastly more ambitious. Along with cutting edge computer-generated imagery (CGI), it is “probably a lot more character-driven than normal Godzilla movies,” said Edwards.

Faithful to the original, the movie opens in Japan where Joe Brody (played by “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston) sees his wife Sandra (played by Juliette Binoche) die in the nuclear power plant where they work, after a serious accident.

Years later, Brody is still trying to find out what caused the catastrophe, risking his life. His son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a US soldier, tries to persuade him to let go. But the appearance of Godzilla and two other out-of-control monsters changes the course of events dramatically.