Godzilla: King of the Monsters ★★★

As a kaiju incarnation, this eclipses the Godzilla vs. MUTO standoff from Edwards' predecessor in every conceivable way. Whether it's Rodan's epic entrance from the smoldering volcano, to King Ghidora's three-headed lashings, the beautiful Mothra emerging from its larvae state, and Godzilla himself who rampages the Titans in his newly radiated form. Despite too many needless cutaways from the mayhem, so humans can react in fretful disorder, this delivers on what a monster-movie should be.

Beyond that, heavily inebriated Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) is a more compelling protagonist than Taylor-Johnson's po-faced Lieutenant, since he withdrew himself from society due to his son's death from the San Francisco attacks. Tasking him to guide the Monarch scientists is a rewarding switcheroo, as well, because he'd rather kill Godzilla to avenge his son. Meanwhile, ex-wife Emma (Vera Farmiga) is a sympathetic paleobiologist whose ethics are rattled by taciturn eco-terrorist Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) for awakening Rodan. Much internal conflict ensues between her 12 year old daughter Maddison (Millie Bobby Brown) who can't grasp Emma's decision to do this. For that alone, the human drama is more engaging than given credit.

Yet somehow, with these two correctives, Michael Dougherty's sequel is slightly inferior to its predecessor. Any visual hype this entailed on a Rembrandt painting was lost on me, since murky blues and smoggy dusts are altered for Edwards' gorgeous brimstone. Instead of Desplat's stirringly percussive score, there's now a deafening grind that'd seem fit in most generic blockbusters. In addition, the Monarch scientists are rendered on such a tedious platform, by listening to frequencies via their sonograph. The only thankful reprieves, are Russell's shrewd nuclear strategy and Serizawa's endearing belief, that Godzilla has always been a protector instead of a destroyer.

If the carnage at Fenway Park and Boston's buildings weren't so dismally directed, this could've been a restored balance for all Godzilla fans. Yet there's constant cutaways to the Monarch scientists, and incoherent visual dust bowls, that make it difficult to get thrilled by. Exempting that, I'll hand it to Legendary Pictures for creating a bunch of one-on-ones regardless, between Godzilla, King Ghidora and Rodan. In no way, does this skimp on the monster action. For the tease on Kong, I've got faith with Godzilla's brawl to him in next year's outing. Let's hope it maintains a number of extended scenes on them.