GODZILLA VS. KONG: Why It's Valid - And Necessary - To Criticize The Human Characters

Godzilla Vs. Kong suffers from the same issues that plagued the previous MonsterVerse movies, but it's almost become frowned upon to point this out. Find out why I feel it's important to do so...

Features Opinion

People watch Godzilla Vs. Kong to see giant monsters fighting. The human characters are simply not that important.

This is how most people feel about movies like GVK, and I happen to agree. The titans are the draw here. The main event. The reason to buy a ticket. Getting the monster action right is the most important thing... but it shouldn't be the only priority.

We all know human characters are necessary, because without them, you'd have two dialogue-free hours of giant CGI creatures punching each other. Now, while that may sound appealing to some and there are imaginative ways to make it work, the chances of a major studio greenlighting that type of project are somewhere between slim and none. So, if we're going to be stuck with jabroni scientists, soldiers and everymen/women for a good chunk of these movies, shouldn't there be a concerted effort to make them engaging?

Godzilla (2014) did make some attempt to get us invested in its human heroes (it also made the huge mistake of killing-off Bryan Cranston's character early on) for a more grounded, dramatic story. Kong: Skull Island didn't fare quite so well, but at least its leads (Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston and co.) weren't actively irritating. Then came Godzilla: King of The Monsters.

Godzilla vs. Kong (@GodzillaMovies) | Twitter

To be fair, GVK isn't quite as tedious as its predecessor whenever the monsters are not on screen, but it's not far off. With the exception of Kaylee Hottle as the little girl who communicates with Kong via sign language and maybe Rebecca Hall as her surrogate mother, we have the same pack of aggravating asshats you'd expect to find in a Transformers movie. In fact, the most annoying bunch - who are saddled with all of the desperately unfunny attempts at humor - serve no purpose whatsoever and are almost completely dispensable.

It's all rather baffling, because Adam Wingard has proven himself to be a talented filmmaker, and he had an experienced writer's room (at least 5 people worked on this script... not collaboratively, by the looks of it) on hand. Nobody is expecting a deep, thought-provoking drama full of clever plot twists, but surely there's a happy medium?

Jurassic Park, Jaws, The Host (괴물), Trollhunter, hell even 2016's Colossal are all examples of classic or accomplished "monster" movies in which the human protagonists are by no means the main selling point. But can you imagine any of them working even half as well if we didn't give a damn about the characters?

For some reason, GVK gets a pass, even though it's so dumb, so contrived, and so populated by eye-roll-inducing idiots that it almost seems like an intentional ploy to make the monsters more interesting by comparison. But make no mistake about it: the movie does want you to care about its human protagonists. They aren't there purely as background players or monster-fodder, and this is why it's important that we feel emotionally invested in that part of the story, and why we shouldn't gloss over its failings in that department just because the monster battles are well handled.

Is Godzilla Vs. Kong entertaining? Sure. I had fun watching a giant ape and a giant lizard work out their issues, but I also felt like skipping past any scene they didn't feature in. Is it too much to ask that just a tad more effort be put into the elements of the film that make up the majority of its runtime?

Apparently so. GVK is stomping all over the box office and currently sits at 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, so Warner Bros./Legendary won't be compelled to make any changes moving forward. Many fans will be perfectly happy if the human characters are not up to par as long as the titans continue to clash, and more power to 'em. I simply don't think it's unreasonable to expect both.

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