Roaring Back to the Past

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Godzilla is back, along with a few faces from the old days.

It’s hardly a tearful reunion for the legendary lizard, during a battle with rival Ghidora, in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” opening Friday. (Warner Bros.)

Summer is just about upon us, so the obligatory loud, huge-budget franchise films are coming to a cineplex near you.

This Friday, the biggest and loudest of the bunch roars into theaters as everyone’s favorite atomically mutated reptile returns in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”

Following the success of 2014’s “Godzilla” and “Kong: Skull Island” in 2017, Warner Bros. has again partnered with Legendary Pictures to add to what they are hoping becomes a cinematic “monsterverse.”

The latest adventure finds Godzilla reunited – not so happily – with some of the most famous monsters in pop culture history.

Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe returns form the 2014 film, and is joined by his “Memoirs of a Geisha” co-star Ziyi Zhang.

The film stars Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and “Stranger Things” star Millie Bobby Brown in her feature-film debut.

The new story – which has commandeered the title used for the U.S. release of the very first “Godzilla” movie in 1956 – follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species — thought to be mere myths — rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.

Watching another round of the very hard-to-believe: from left, Kyle Chandler, Thomas Middleditch, Bradley Whitford, Ziyi Zhang and Ken Watanabe. (Warner Bros.)

Directed by Michael Dougherty, the ensemble cast also includes Bradley Whitford, Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance of “Game of Thrones,” Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and David Strathairn.

Dougherty directed from a script he wrote with Zach Shields, story by Max Borenstein, Dougherty and Shields, based on the characters owned and created by Toho Co.,

Ltd. The film was produced by Mary Parent, Alex Garcia, Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni and Brian Rogers, with Shields, Barry Waldman, Hiro Matsuoka, Keiji Ota, Dan Lin, Roy Lee, Yoshimitsu Banno and Kenji Okuhira serving as executive producers, and Ali Mendes and Jay Ashenfelter co-producing.

Early reviews have been decidedly mixed – mostly on the negative side – but it’s a good bet that if you’re inclined to even consider a Godzilla movie, this one is right up your alley. Rotten Tomatoes has an initial rating of 45% from published reviews, with audience feedback coming after the film opens.

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivers spectacular kaiju action – and reaffirms that cutting-edge effects are still no substitute for a good story,” was the consensus on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

CNET was less kind, saying, “There’s too much shaky camera work and too many quick cuts, making the action unclear,” with Rolling Stone adding, “When the Titans emerge from the sludge and go at it full tilt you may give in just to watch them let it rip.”

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, in association with Toho Co., Ltd., opens this Friday, May 31, nationwide. It will be distributed in 3D and 2D and IMAX by Warner Bros. Pictures, except in Japan, where it will be distributed by Toho.

The film has been rated PG-13 for sequences of monster action, violence and destruction, and for some language.

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