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Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters Review

I’ve had pretty good luck with Netflix originals. I’ve enjoyed most of those I’ve watched. I actually got my hopes up for the new Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters movie/trilogy of which 1/3 is available, and well, that was a mistake.

This is the first official Godzilla movie from Toho which is animated. The three-parter is done in the same CG anime style that I’m seeing a lot of on Netflix. It was strange to see at first in the Knights of Sidonia series (which pulled an Attack on Titan by starting off really intriguing before majorly derailing). I got used to the style while watching BLAME, a much better movie. So I didn’t mind the CG look at all while watching Godzilla. I think it actually made the smooth, gliding walk of the exifs (alien humanoids) stand out well. It’s also fantastic for depicting the complex mechs and machinery used in fast-paced combat, and the action in the movie looks great.

Unfortunately, the intro to the movie wasn’t paced well. There’s in medias res and then there’s garbled mess. We’re thrown into the middle of a stand-off between Character Man and Other People. There’s something at stake. It’s a big deal. It gets resolved. Some people blow up. Character Man is very distraught. From what I gathered during my viewing, the humans living in space wanted to get rid of the elderly to conserve resources, the grandson of one of the old men, Captain Haruo, thinks this is wrong and tries to stop it but fails. Then the story starts and we get some flashback explanation of what’s happening. Earth was razed by Godzilla. Two sketchy alien races showed up in ships claiming they could help, but they failed, and humans and aliens had to escape together on one ship to try to find somewhere else to live. However, the details are still vague and I didn’t feel like I got a chance to get to know any of the characters, much less their names, before the halfway point of the movie. Haruo and his exif priest friend concoct some plan to return for another try at defeating Godzilla.

Here’s the weird part: The humans have been wandering around looking for a habitable planet or hanging around a non-habitable planet. It’s unclear. But they say their plan was to find another planet, and they’ve been searching out there in space for 20 years with no success. Their backup plan was to live on the moon and salvage resources from Earth. So once this plan to have another go at Godzilla is presented, they decide to give it a try. They push a button, and instantly warp back to Earth. Just like that. Twenty years they’ve been struggling to survive out there, they had a safe backup plan, but they decided to terminate a huge portion of their population and keep starving out in space when they had the ability to immediately return to Earth. Why didn’t they use that warp ability to check out the known planets in habitable zones of their stars? They traveled 12 light years in a minute. Proxima Centauri b is only 4.2 light years away. We have a huge list of possibly habitable planets that this group could easily have reached in 20 long years. It’s stated that they’re currently at Tau Ceti e which is on that list, but it’s far from the best candidate. Apparently only the stupid humanoids managed to escape Godzilla’s initial destruction.

(Spoilers)

They get back to Earth and start their mission to locate and destroy Godzilla if he still exists. For Earth, it’s been 20,000 years since the ship left, and the entire planet is apparently covered in a fog enshrouding a metallic forest. Also, there are dragons now which supposedly evolved from Godzilla cells just like the metal trees. There is no real explanation given for this huge difference in the passage of time or this extremely quick evolution of life on the planet. Roll with it, I guess. Our scientist character waffles between speculating that the Godzilla we encounter is the original and reasoning that he’s a descendant. Not sure where he’s getting his information. The plan immediately goes wrong and it’s a big heroic struggle to take down Godzilla once and for all. I finally caught the name of the guy in charge, whom everyone was complaining about, just before he died. I’m still not clear on who the girl soldier is or what her connection to Captain Haruo is though they speak as if they know each other pretty well. I wished somebody had given me some background on these people so I could care about at least one of them. Haruo is the only one with even a slight backstory, but he’s very flat. He’s full of rage and wants to kill Godzilla. That’s all I’ve got.

I have no idea why this is a Godzilla film. In King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), the script was originally written for Frankenstein’s monster instead of King Kong. He would be enlarged by the supercharging power of electricity allowing him to hold his own against the king of the monsters. Somewhere along the way, it was decided that King Kong would be a better choice for role of the western monster. However, they replaced him without reworking the script. So, inexplicably, in this movie King Kong is powered up by electricity. Even though it was a fun bout, it’s clear that he’s the wrong monster for the story because this electricity stuff makes no sense. Similarly, I feel that another, perhaps original, monster would have better suited for Planet of the Monsters. They’ve removed the one vital, trademark trait of Godzilla; his radioactivity. There is no mention at all of radioactivity in this movie. On top of this, he’s given completely new characteristics and abilities apart from the Godzilla we know. He emits EMP, he creates an electromagnetic shield, his hide is metallic, and his fiery atomic breath is now more a laser beam than anything. Aside from his appearance, which is very much akin to Legendary’s Godzilla rather than Toho’s, there’s nothing here which makes me think Godzilla. It’s disappointing.

Their vague, confusing plan works and they defeat Godzilla. But wait! The mountain behind him shakes and the REAL Godzilla rises from beneath it towering a ridiculous 200m taller than any previous incarnation of the character. He blows everyone up except Haruo, and we wait to see part 2. I can only suspend disbelief so far. A 100m tall Godzilla slowly lumbering through Tokyo, okay. But this new mountain-sized behemoth . . . I can only picture him plastered to the surface of the Earth, unable to move due to his enormous mass. It might serve to make him more intimidating if it weren’t so silly. He doesn’t compare to Shin Godzilla when it comes to intimidation, anyway. Out of nowhere, the exif priest tells us he’s seen planets create monsters like Godzilla hundreds of times to quell the pride of the dominant species which is overpopulating the planet, and that no one has ever defeated their monster. First of all, why mention this only now? Second, this concept was done better in Blue Gender (1999).

All-in-all, this movie was just bad. Again, great visuals, but that doesn’t make up for the frustrating, boring experience. I don’t have hope for the next one to be better, but I’ll probably set my bar low and give it a watch just to see Mechagodzilla.