Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

For discussions covering more than one Toho film or show that span across more than one “era.”

Worse human character out of any Kaiju film

Poll ended at Fri Oct 19, 2018 4:09 pm

Ford Brody (Godzilla 2014)
0
No votes
Pteranodon guy (Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 2)
1
14%
Haruo Sakaki (Godzilla Anime)
4
57%
Dr. Stewart (War of the Gargantuas)
1
14%
Kennys (Showa Era Child characters)
0
No votes
Chujo (Tokyo SOS)
0
No votes
Other (If other, please specify who)
1
14%
 
Total votes: 7

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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Tyrant_Lizard_King » Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:50 pm

The problem with Ford is that after Joe dies there's absolutely no one to pick up the slack. If the rest of the cast were as colorful, interesting, or involved as Joe then Ford would have been infinitely more tolerable.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Rodan » Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:50 am

NSZ wrote:All of these replies and only one person mentioned Toshio from the first Gamera film?

That kid's an unlikable nutjob with no redeeming qualities at all. He's either gonna become an axe murderer who wears people's faces as Halloween masks when he grows up, or he's gonna become best friends with a padded cell. Nothing good can come from a kid that seriously thinks their tiny-ass turtle they just released into the wild Ultraman'd into a giant fire-breathing/eating monster.

I mentioned that we'd have to exclude all the vintage Gamera films or this thread would by all rights be stuck on them forever.

Zarm wrote:Seriously? Heisei and Millenium were filled with far worse protagonists. Even, rarely, Showa.

You people and your hate-on for Ford Brody... :roll:

I genuinely don't think I can think of another focal, non-ensemble character in a self-serious Godzilla movie whose personality and motivations outside of the immediate circumstances of the movie I know so little about.

Who is Ford? What does he want? What is he feeling, when he's doing any of the things he does? Our eyes are on him the whole movie and he's literally just a tool to move us from one spectacle to the next.

He is a shockingly underwitten character for the focus on him--a low bar not just for the series, but even for Hollywood tentpole films. I absolutely cannot believe they wrote the movie around him, and each time I've seen it, it's only shocked me more.
Last edited by Rodan on Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Zarm » Thu Oct 18, 2018 4:06 am

Rodan wrote:I genuinely don't think I can think of another focal, non-ensemble character in a self-serious Godzilla movie whose personality and motivations outside of the immediate circumstances of the movie I know so little about.


That is an incredibly narrow band if I understand it correctly. But off the top of my head, all main characters in Godzilla vs. Megalon. Anyome but Yuki and Miki in vs. SpaceGodzilla. Chujo in Tokyo S.O.S. nearly the entire cast of Shin Godzilla, with the exception of Anne Patterson (unless you count that exempt as ensemble).


Rodan wrote:Who is Ford? What does he want? What is he feeling, when he's doing any of the things he does? Our eyes are on him the whole movie and he's literally just a tool to move us from one spectacle to the next.


He's a patriot and family manstill scarred by the childhood loss of his mother, struggling with a father whom he is both estranged from and frustrated by the conspiracy theorist obsession of, and yet wants to be close to and cares deeply about. He's a protector with a sense of responsibility to those around him, to help in whatever way he can.

He wants to be home with his family. A sense of responsibility, or possibly the need to work through his issues, led him to the military and a deployment... but now that his deployment is over, he wants to be back home with his family. It's a simple motivation, and yet as all-consuming as such a motivation would be for anyone that has been away from their loved ones for months. And he wants to keep them safe, the other primary motivating factor for his actions in the film. Neither of these are especially complex, but neither of them are unrealistic or unwarranted either.

The ability to tell what he is feeling during any particular scene is, I suppose, an objective one, but one that I never had any trouble with.

And, as I said earlier, 40 is perfectly tailored to the film he is in. He is our Viewpoint character, but he's also designed to be an unobtrusive figure. He's written specifically to be a tour guide, to take us through the highlights and high points of the Kaiju encounter and keep the spotlight on them rather than himself. He's not under written or a low point for Hollywood 10 pole movies, but purpose designed to fill a specific role in an expertly crafted story. A different sort of character would not fit as well as for does into the role that he was designed for.

He may not be the strongest character ever written, in a vacuum, but he was never designed to be in a vacuum, he was designed to be in the 2014 Godzilla film. As such I see absolutely nothing negative about him as a protagonist. And even so, I think he is given a lack of depth and an overemphasized shallowness unfairly- because he has a lot more attributes than his detractors frequently note. And I certainly see far more unlikable characters, and far stronger ciphers, in many other films in the Godzilla series.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Rodan » Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:31 am

Zarm wrote:That is an incredibly narrow band if I understand it correctly. But off the top of my head, all main characters in Godzilla vs. Megalon. Anyome but Yuki and Miki in vs. SpaceGodzilla. Chujo in Tokyo S.O.S. nearly the entire cast of Shin Godzilla, with the exception of Anne Patterson (unless you count that exempt as ensemble).

It is a fairly narrow band, but that's what cements him at the top of the list for me. Chujo would absolutely be contender #2, on an almost level playing field, though far more attention is lavished on Ford and over a longer run time.

The cast of Shin Godzilla wouldn't even enter into it, as our two or three focal characters are all well drawn enough for me to understand who they are removed from the immediate events of the film (Yaguchi's sincere political ambitions are the subject of a few conversations throughout the film, as other characters'--Godzilla is just the instrument through which they find immediate outlet and exploration--Yaguchi attaches himself to the Godzilla problem because the Godzilla problem is convenient for him, both in terms of his sense of sincere civic obligation and his careerist side).

The cast of Spacegodzilla is cartoonish, but at least well-drawn enough in their cartoonish ways. I know what they want when they're off screen. Even the bare-bones cast of Godzilla Raids Again come off a little more fully drawn as people removed from Godzilla than our protagonist in '14. (And indeed one of the few strengths of that film is it casting an occasionally, fleetingly successful clarity on what the lives of real people--more so than the cast of the original--might look like if they came into accidental proximity with one of Godzilla's attacks.)


Rodan wrote:He's a patriot and family manstill scarred by the childhood loss of his mother, struggling with a father whom he is both estranged from and frustrated by the conspiracy theorist obsession of, and yet wants to be close to and cares deeply about. He's a protector with a sense of responsibility to those around him, to help in whatever way he can.

He wants to be home with his family. A sense of responsibility, or possibly the need to work through his issues, led him to the military and a deployment... but now that his deployment is over, he wants to be back home with his family. It's a simple motivation, and yet as all-consuming as such a motivation would be for anyone that has been away from their loved ones for months. And he wants to keep them safe, the other primary motivating factor for his actions in the film. Neither of these are especially complex, but neither of them are unrealistic or unwarranted either.

The ability to tell what he is feeling during any particular scene is, I suppose, an objective one, but one that I never had any trouble with.

And, as I said earlier, 40 is perfectly tailored to the film he is in. He is our Viewpoint character, but he's also designed to be an unobtrusive figure. He's written specifically to be a tour guide, to take us through the highlights and high points of the Kaiju encounter and keep the spotlight on them rather than himself. He's not under written or a low point for Hollywood 10 pole movies, but purpose designed to fill a specific role in an expertly crafted story. A different sort of character would not fit as well as for does into the role that he was designed for.

He may not be the strongest character ever written, in a vacuum, but he was never designed to be in a vacuum, he was designed to be in the 2014 Godzilla film. As such I see absolutely nothing negative about him as a protagonist. And even so, I think he is given a lack of depth and an overemphasized shallowness unfairly- because he has a lot more attributes than his detractors frequently note. And I certainly see far more unlikable characters, and far stronger ciphers, in many other films in the Godzilla series.

I suppose you can read a connection between Ford's damaged parental relationship and his longing to return home in the film, or even his decision to pursue a military (protection, cohesion) career, but much of that is jettisoned in his father's early exit from the film and a pronounced lack of reaction to his death.

After that, his motivation is ... to get home. That's inseparable from the events of the film--I don't know what drives he has going on beyond Godzilla, or that are finding exploration through Godzilla, and I'm not sure the script does either. Ford's motivation is to get home, and the reason he can't get home is because of the monsters. Take away the incident, and you lose the bulk of our idea of who he is. With comparatively stronger (read, compellingly or even basically competently written) characters, I know who they are and what they might be after independent of--in this case--the monsters, and I understand why those motivations might bring them into and keep them in interactions with said monsters. Ford's reason for being in proximity with the monsters is essentially that he's in the wrong place at the wrong time, and everything else I really know about his wants is also dependent on him being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The entire script after the release of the MUTOs hinges, in fact, on Ford continually being in the wrong place at the wrong time, over and over again. Poor guy just can't catch a break. (His father has reason to be in proximity to the monsters, and stay there, but those motivations are never passed onto Ford himself, nor is that connection through his father highlighted in any remote way after his passing.)

But in all this my chief issue is not that Godzilla 2014 isn't a character-driven film--it's not; Ford is jettisoned from action scene to action scene based on anything but his own initiative; it's always some other force keeping him around, be it the monsters themselves or the other parties taking a more active role, and not only is his own volition not driving the story, when thrust into these situations, he hardly reacts--but that it treats itself like one, not with a dull character simply being vehicle for spectacle, but being the primary focus, toward which it seems to beg audience connection and empathy, over a run time of more than two hours.

At least Chujo (easy, easy runner-up) gets out of the way for Mothra in the end in a cartoonish movie with a runtime of less than 90 minutes. And even with that deliverance, it's still one of the worst entries in the series. The Godzilla series may be filled with other ciphers, but, whether from tone, pacing, style or script, I can't think of another that asks of the audience what Ford does.
Last edited by Rodan on Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:39 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Maritonic » Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:38 am

I think a bulk of Ford's issue is poop acting. If he was portrayed by someone who could actually act his way out of a paper bag, the character may be more interesting.

Chujo is another character I had forgotten about. Frankly most of the new cast in SOS is boring.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Rodan » Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:42 am

Maritonic wrote:I think a bulk of Ford's issue is poop acting. If he was portrayed by someone who could actually act his way out of a paper bag, the character may be more interesting.

Chujo is another character I had forgotten about. Frankly most of the new cast in SOS is boring.

The fact that the script never gives him a reason to interact with Godzilla or the MUTOs other than sheer happenstance after act one would still be an issue, but yes, it's totally possible a different actor might have elevated it by giving a more nuanced performance.

I'm not letting the script off the hook, though, because it's still shockingly half-hearted and a shame Edwards' cinematography and an impressive series of special effects were wasted on it.
Last edited by Rodan on Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:43 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Maritonic » Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:43 am

Rodan wrote:
Maritonic wrote:I think a bulk of Ford's issue is poop acting. If he was portrayed by someone who could actually act his way out of a paper bag, the character may be more interesting.

Chujo is another character I had forgotten about. Frankly most of the new cast in SOS is boring.

The fact that the script never gives him a reason to interact with Godzilla or the MUTOs other than sheer happenstance after act one would still be an issue, but yes, it's totally possible a different actor might have elevated it by giving a more nuanced performance.

I'm not letting the script off the hook, though, because it's still shockingly half-hearted and a shame Edward's cinematography and an impressive series of special effects were wasted on it.


Don't disagree, was just saying a better actor might have been able to distract you/us from that by being at least more interesting.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Zarm » Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:54 am

Rodan wrote:
Zarm wrote:That is an incredibly narrow band if I understand it correctly. But off the top of my head, all main characters in Godzilla vs. Megalon. Anyome but Yuki and Miki in vs. SpaceGodzilla. Chujo in Tokyo S.O.S. nearly the entire cast of Shin Godzilla, with the exception of Anne Patterson (unless you count that exempt as ensemble).

It is a fairly narrow band, but that's what cements him at the top of the list for me. Chujo would absolutely be contender #2, on an almost level playing field, though far more attention is lavished on Ford and over a longer run time.

The cast of Shin Godzilla wouldn't even enter into it, as our two or three focal characters are all well drawn enough for me to understand who they are removed from the immediate events of the film (Yaguchi's sincere political ambitions are the subject of a few conversations throughout the film, as other characters'--Godzilla is just the instrument through which they find immediate outlet and exploration--Yaguchi attaches himself to the Godzilla problem because the Godzilla problem is convenient for him, both in terms of his sense of sincere civic obligation and his careerist side).

The cast of Spacegodzilla is cartoonish, but at least well-drawn enough in their cartoonish ways.


I'm sorry; I can't agree. Yaguchi, maybe, borderline- although I would argue that we know almost as little about him. Maybe you understand that cast- but I understand Ford. So if subjective measure if all that's required, your concept is disproven by my understanding of Ford. :) Objectively, though, I don't think that Shin's cast is any better developed, or SpaceGodzilla's, or Megalon's. Raids Again's, sure- but that film was never on the radar because, unloved as it is, it is a character drama more than anything, so it's characters and their motivations are certainly well-sketched.

Again, why would Yaguchi attaching himself to the Godzilla project because it is convenient for him, in his sense of civic obligation and careerist side, which is part text and part subtext, be any deeper development than Ford attaching himself to the nuke transport and later military operations because it is convenient for being reunited with his family, and fits his character both in terms of his sense of sincere obligation to protect and defend, and his patriotic career-military side? Both have equally-sketched text/subtext motivations, there if you look for it- but don't get a particular character deep-dive. Yaguchi also has a few conversations with Anne on the fate of Japan as an additional sketch-out aspect; Ford has his relationship with his dad. If anything, Yaguchi has a moment to emote more in the aftermath of the sea of fire, which Ford doesn't; but in general, they receive about the same level of development.


Rodan wrote:After that, his motivation is ... to get home. That's inseparable from the events of the film--I don't know what drives he has going on beyond Godzilla, or that are finding exploration through Godzilla, and I'm not sure the script does either. Ford's motivation is to get home, and the reason he can't get home is because of the monsters. Take away the incident, and you lose the bulk of our idea of who he is.


Again, I think that who he is and what drives him are not only established earlier- and not at all jettisoned by the loss of his father; insights into who a character is don't become null when they are past- but also in situations like his interaction with, rescue of, and care for, the little boy in Hawaii. We see his drive as a protector, we see his sense of responsibility to others demonstrated throughout the film; what motivates him int he film is what motivated him to join the military in the first place. The MUTO crisis is an extension and expression and even escalation of it when he'd thought he was, for a time, done, but it all ties back into who he is, and was even before the crisis arose. It's not that Ford is in the wrong place at the wrong time; it's what he chooses to do there (on the monorail, in San Francisco), or where he chooses to place himself (helping his father into the quarantine zone, caring for the kid through the night, volunteering to transport the nuke and take the HALO jump) that give us insight.

Even then, I see a significant number of Godzilla film protagonists that likewise don't qualify by this same standard of 'take away the situation and you lose most of your insight into their character.' Who are Akane or Kiriko without the threat of Godzilla; what would motivate them if not the circumstance of the film? Who was Dr. Shiragmi before Erica died? Not only do I think Ford exceeds these standards- but even applying them, a number of other characters are just as dependent on the flashback-backstory-and-then-subsequent-events from their individual films.


Rodan wrote:But in all this my chief issue is not that Godzilla 2014 isn't a character-driven film--it's not; Ford is jettisoned from action scene to action scene based on anything but his own initiative; it's always some other force keeping him around, be it the monsters themselves or the other parties taking a more active role, and not only is his own volition not driving the story, when thrust into these situations, he hardly reacts--but that it treats itself like one, not with a dull character simply being vehicle for spectacle, but being the primary focus, toward which it seems to beg audience connection and empathy, over a run time of more than two hours.


Why do you feel that it treats itself like a character-driven film? I think his circumstances are certainly meant to invite audience sympathy, but I don't perceive the film as presenting itself as a character-driven film overall.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Rodan » Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:10 am

Again, why would Yaguchi attaching himself to the Godzilla project because it is convenient for him, in his sense of civic obligation and careerist side, which is part text and part subtext, be any deeper development than Ford attaching himself to the nuke transport and later military operations because it is convenient for being reunited with his family,

I'm just going to touch on this bit because I feel it's central to the different ways we're talking about characters in these movies:

Yaguchi's motivations can be uncoupled from Godzilla, in that I can imagine avenues he would pursue of his own volition, and conflicts he might stir, were Godzilla to never exist.

Ford's motivations can't be uncoupled from Godzilla because they are simply to get home...because of Godzilla. I don't have a sense of the things he would be aiming for without the monsters around, or why they provide a particularly good outlet for exploring them. (Or, on the flipside, why he makes a particularly good vehicle to be our filter for whatever the monsters might mean thematically on their own.)

Why do you feel that it treats itself like a character-driven film? I think his circumstances are certainly meant to invite audience sympathy, but I don't perceive the film as presenting itself as a character-driven film overall.

A mater of quantity, really. Our eyes never leave Ford. And while I think there's absolutely a model, for spectacle films, that can allow a roving POV character to simply be the vehicle for eye-drawing action, the action throughout '14 rarely if ever takes center-stage until the end, and our attention is directed constantly and tightly toward Ford. The drama of his delayed return home is presented with the utmost sincerity and quite a bit of run time.

Again, I think that who he is and what drives him are not only established earlier- and not at all jettisoned by the loss of his father; insights into who a character is don't become null when they are past- but also in situations like his interaction with, rescue of, and care for, the little boy in Hawaii. We see his drive as a protector, we see his sense of responsibility to others demonstrated throughout the film; what motivates him int he film is what motivated him to join the military in the first place. The MUTO crisis is an extension and expression and even escalation of it when he'd thought he was, for a time, done, but it all ties back into who he is, and was even before the crisis arose. It's not that Ford is in the wrong place at the wrong time; it's what he chooses to do there (on the monorail, in San Francisco), or where he chooses to place himself (helping his father into the quarantine zone, caring for the kid through the night, volunteering to transport the nuke and take the HALO jump) that give us insight.

I can see the logical throughline to his choices, but another issue then is that he never changes, which, again would tie into the lack of wants--we're given a character who comes in fully formed--perhaps save for the sole lingering thread of his seclusive father, which is stripped away without resolution--who then has a chance to demonstrate that fully formed character in the situations he's tossed into repeatedly, but who neither affects nor is affected by them beyond that.

There is a script that makes interesting and compelling use of Ford, the man for whom family and security are everything and for whom a chance encounter with larger-than-life catastrophes provides an opportunity to explore, challenge and nuance that, but this isn't it.

There's also a--less interesting but also less frustrating--script that makes use of Ford, the bland family man, as an acceptably bland vehicle for fantastic and colorful action for which he fades into the background as a convenient tool of hard-genre writing.

It's in a rough spot where it's neither.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Tyrant_Lizard_King » Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:15 pm

Ford is just a symptom of the typical boring one note military leads occupying the majority of the Godzilla series since Megaguirus. Glad KotM is returning to focusing on scientists as the leads. Godzilla 2000 was the last film to go that direction.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby SoggyNoodles2016 » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:21 am

Tyrant_Lizard_King wrote:Ford is just a symptom of the typical boring one note military leads occupying the majority of the Godzilla series since Megaguirus. Glad KotM is returning to focusing on scientists as the leads. Godzilla 2000 was the last film to go that direction.

I am so glad someone finally said this.

Though I would say it's been a problem since at least the Heisei era.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby UltramanGoji » Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:37 pm

Tyrant_Lizard_King wrote:Ford is just a symptom of the typical boring one note military leads occupying the majority of the Godzilla series since Megaguirus. Glad KotM is returning to focusing on scientists as the leads. Godzilla 2000 was the last film to go that direction.


You might be forgetting GMK. Yuri’s the protagonist and she’s a reporter. Unless you consider Admiral Tachibana one of the leads but I think he’s really well written.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Tyrant_Lizard_King » Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:11 pm

Oh there's exceptions for sure. Still Godzilla 2000 is the last film to be lead by a scientist character.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Kaiju-King42 » Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:13 pm

You guys remember the lady in the red leather jacket from Godzilla Final Wars?

Someone put her in this poll because she deserves it.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby eabaker » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:23 pm

Kaiju-King42 wrote:You guys remember the lady in the red leather jacket from Godzilla Final Wars?

Someone put her in this poll because she deserves it.


The poll should probably be 50% Final Wars.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Zarm » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:58 pm

Once again, I will remind the class of Godzilla vs Megalon. I am pretty certain that one of the characters only has his name mentioned once in the entire film, the characters get no introduction whatsoever, and by the end of the film we still don't know the relationship of the two adult leads to one another, just that they happen to end up in the same place at the same time a lot. Personally, I think Final Wars tends to be a character study of Shakespearean proportions in comparison to that. :)
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Living Corpse » Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:03 pm

Any of them who don't sleep with me so...all of them.

UltramanGoji wrote:
Tyrant_Lizard_King wrote:Ford is just a symptom of the typical boring one note military leads occupying the majority of the Godzilla series since Megaguirus. Glad KotM is returning to focusing on scientists as the leads. Godzilla 2000 was the last film to go that direction.


You might be forgetting GMK. Yuri’s the protagonist and she’s a reporter. Unless you consider Admiral Tachibana one of the leads but I think he’s really well written.


Really? I find Yuri to be a pleasantly decent character even if it's a more traditional non-action role for a female character in the daikaiju genera.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby UltramanGoji » Sat Oct 20, 2018 7:05 pm

Living Corpse wrote:
UltramanGoji wrote:
Tyrant_Lizard_King wrote:Ford is just a symptom of the typical boring one note military leads occupying the majority of the Godzilla series since Megaguirus. Glad KotM is returning to focusing on scientists as the leads. Godzilla 2000 was the last film to go that direction.


You might be forgetting GMK. Yuri’s the protagonist and she’s a reporter. Unless you consider Admiral Tachibana one of the leads but I think he’s really well written.


Really? I find Yuri to be a pleasantly decent character even if it's a more traditional non-action role for a female character in the daikaiju genera.


I wasn’t talking about her being a bad character. I was using her as an example of a non-military protagonist that came after Megaguirus.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby Living Corpse » Sat Oct 20, 2018 7:36 pm

Ah okay.
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Re: Worst human character in a Kaiju film, Godzilla or otherwise.

Postby eabaker » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:06 pm

Zarm wrote:Once again, I will remind the class of Godzilla vs Megalon. I am pretty certain that one of the characters only has his name mentioned once in the entire film, the characters get no introduction whatsoever, and by the end of the film we still don't know the relationship of the two adult leads to one another, just that they happen to end up in the same place at the same time a lot. Personally, I think Final Wars tends to be a character study of Shakespearean proportions in comparison to that. :)


But by being so underdeveloped, the cast of Megalon don't get the opportunity to be good or bad characters; they're just empty vessels. The cast of Final Wars, meanwhile, take every opportunity to make me with that the medium of film had never even been invented.
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