By no means a thinking person’s film, Godzilla vs. Kong nonetheless has moments of something like—what might be called—you could say—intelligence. Perhaps the smartest thing it did, for instance, was cast Kaylee Hottle in the part of Jia, a young girl who can talk to Kong. Both actress and character are deaf; when she first appears, the filmmakers pull off a nifty perspective shift by sucking out most of the sound. (But if you have a good enough subwoofer, you’ll feel the telltale earthquakes in your bones. Kong cometh!) Later, we learn that Jia communicates with the big monkey the same way certain primate researchers interact with their subjects: in sign language. So not only does a deaf kid get to star in a major monster picture—it also makes effortless, plot-relevant sense to have her there. Kind of remarkable, really.

Monster movies, as a general rule, don’t aspire to this level of sensitivity. Overachieving spectacles, they exist to visit mindless, magnificent mayhem upon people and places, with scarcely a pause to consider the consequences. In the end, Godzilla vs. Kong wishes it were more, but it’s not. Hottle’s participation notwithstanding, it’s a stupid film, a kaiju clobberfest—a KaijUFC—right up through its titularly self-defeating team-up of a finale. (Someday, someone in Hollywood will have the guts to pick a side.) The presence of perfect physical specimen Alexander Skarsgard as a shy scruffy scientist who mutters ridiculata like “Hollow Earth theory” and “reverse-gravitational effect” only serves to glamorize the stupidity.

Luckily, GvK isn’t the only creature feature of the Covid era that wants you to trade real-life death and destruction on a global scale for fictional death and destruction on a global scale. At least two other contenders are vying for Kong’s Hollow Earth throne, and though most people seem to have missed them when they came out at the end of last year—don’t feel bad; 2020 doesn’t count—both contribute something special, timely, and even moving to the modern meaning of monsterdom at the megaplex.

The first, back in October, was Love and Monsters. It sounds like a bad Anne Hathaway movie, but fear not. This one stars Dylan O’Brien, who’s best known for playing the hero of the Maze Runners, Thomas. In that franchise, he mostly flexed his muscles and leadership abilities. Here, he’s got neither. As Joel, he’s a happy-go-lucky guy who just wants to help his fellow postapocalyptic survivors slay the giant mutated insectoidal horribles that have taken over the planet. Trouble is, in the face of any such beastie he panics and practically pees himself. It’s all very relatable.

If Joel has any skills, they’re of the much softer kind. He cooks a mean minestrone. He draws pretty pictures. Also, he’s a romantic. When he gets back in touch with an old girlfriend over a staticky radio, he immediately vows to find her. This means leaving the safety of his underground colony for the dangers of the surface, where the wild things roam. Armed with a sketchbook and a crossbow he can’t shoot, off he goes.

At no point does Love and Monsters trip over the sort of flat-footed monumentality that drags down the likes of Godzilla vs. Kong. (Except Joel does trip a lot as he struggles to dodge whipping tongues, flailing tentacles, etc.) It’s too sweet and a little stupid, but only because it wants to be. The air is fresh, the jokes jokey. It uses every trick—a cute dog, a cute kid, a cute robot—to chip away at your Godzilla armor. And somewhere along the way, it works. You give in, and fall in love.