Sequel to 2014's "Godzilla" can't find balance between human story and monster mash

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Monsters have run amok and are destroying the Earth. A metaphor for the top-heavy state of blockbuster filmmaking? Nah, just another entry in the effects-laden summer movie sweepstakes.  

"Godzilla: King of the Monsters," the sequel to 2014's "Godzilla," is an overlong, overblown destruction-fest that doesn't know if it wants to play it straight or acknowledge its own stupidity. In the end, its decision is made for it.  

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Kyle Chandler is Mark, a father who lost a child during the events of the first film, referred to here as "the 2014 attacks" and "the day we discovered monsters are real." Vera Farmiga is his ex-wife, Emma, a monster biologist studying "bioacoustics" and experimenting with aural frequencies to tame the monsters; "Stranger Things'" Mille Bobby Brown is their feisty daughter, Madison. 

When Emma and Madison are kidnapped by eco-terrorists, it's the first sign the script (by Michael Dougherty, who also directed, and Zach Shields), is getting over complicated. The stellar ensemble cast — which includes Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Aisha Hinds, Thomas Middleditch, David Strathairn and Ziyi Zhang — is forced to pick at scraps, and that's before we even get to the big guy himself, who this time around is joined by fellow monsters Mothra, the three-headed King Ghidorah and other big time beasts.  

The film does have a sense of humor — the Pixies' "Wave of Mutilation" is played on the soundtrack, and a scene is staged in Fenway Park, home of the Green Monster (get it?) — and Bradley Whitford is the only one who dials into it. He plays a control room blowhard who delivers every line like it's the poster's tagline. He gets that it's a "Godzilla" movie, and it should be fun. Too often, "King of the Monsters" is a gigantic drag.  

'Godzilla: King of the Monsters'

GRADE: C-

Rated PG-13: for sequences of monster action violence and destruction, and for some language

Running time: 132 minutes

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama  

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