Anime Review: Godzilla Planet of Monsters
Directed by: Kobun Shizuno & Hiroyuki Seshita
Distributed by: Toho & Netflix
Run Time: 88 minutes
Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters is finally here!
Reviewing a film in a series that I know and love is kinda like asking me to point out the flaws in my cat and asking me to tell you what it's awesome at and what it plain stinks at. However It has to be done in order to cut to the heart of the movie and let you the reader know if you should skip it or immediately watch it right now...after finishing this article.
For the sake of a review I will be going over the following categories:
Is it Godzilla-y enough
As far as Netflix anime go it’s riding the CG anime wave following Castlevania, Ajin, and ID-0 which isn’t necessarily bad. When it's used well it looks gorgeous, you can squeeze miles of detail in something as vast as Godzilla because you can have texture details that would take 20 years away from earth...20,000 years earth time. There are times within the film that the graphics did look a bit muddled and generally uninteresting to look at; Despite the film being set basically after the destruction of Earth it still looks grey and murky. Now if you’ve seen the film you know that there is a semi-solid reason for the grey world, but its still uninteresting to look at. That being said this version of Godzilla looks powerful, you can see his rippling muscles in every movement. Overall the visuals aren’t enough to throw me off the film but it's still something to be aware of going in.
Godzilla films aren’t known for their perfect dialogue, sometimes they seem silly. However this entry into the series is a bit different, it seems to be more anime than Godzilla. Its basic dialogue choices make Godzilla seem less like an entity of destruction like he has been described in other films but as a personal character. The main human protagonist Haruo seems to see Godzilla as his personal nemesis in how he talks about the King of monsters. This detour in language is a nice feeling though, it takes something akin to a hurricane or tornado and makes it personal. Inasmuch as batman needs to be a concept and not a man Godzilla needs to be personal and not nameless.
Finally a fresh take on Godzilla! This story line takes itself way more serious than previous incarnations. With the film being set after the destruction of Earth and the rapid decline of the human race it really sets a clock on the resolution of conflict. It has a sense of urgency and timeline that no other Godzilla has touched; despite coming close to 2014’s Legendary Godzilla the urgency in this release is greater. Legendary’s Godzilla jumped around and played with a timeline that seemed flexible. Netflix’s Godzilla is on a linear timeline, humanity is on the decline...there is a finite amount of resources to throw at the problem of survival and destruction of Godzilla. Due to that narrative this film is tense, every grunt who dies is literally a chunk of humanity that will never come to be.
The world feels smaller despite being bigger than any other series film; they introduced two new alien races, Godzilla is literally the biggest Godzilla in series lore, and they name drop several other kaiju. Despite all that the film focuses on a handful of persons and an entire savage world. This world also is consistent with its own logic, the Exif and Bilusaludo are new species and despite having no background information given about them are consistent in tone. The Exif are the more spiritual members of the species and the Bilusaludo are the more technological of the three being as they build an entity that I won’t spoil...yet.
IS IT GODZILLA-Y ENOUGH?
Definitely! Despite not having Godzilla show up till later in the film in more than a background set piece. It's not till later in the film that the King shows up in a more antagonistic role and that's fine. Godzilla films usually start with a human element, introduce the main villain which usually is another Kaiju or alien race, then they introduce Godzilla to combat the threat...In Planet of Monsters Godzilla is the villain. Humanity is on the ropes and Godzilla put them there, this isn’t your traditional Godzilla film its a disaster movie mixed with the anime Attack on Titan. As a Godzilla fan I was pleased with the film...however I was also a bit disappointed as now I have at least a year to wait till the next film in this series.
Watch this movie...it's not long. My fiancee who is decidedly not a Godzilla fan didn’t care at all about it, but I did. I don’t necessarily care about the human characters but I care about their fate. I don’t want the film series to turn into a Pacific Rim style slug fest (Which I love Pacific Rim just not as a Godzilla film). Hopefully the sequel will answer some questions it poses but until then I’ll just have to watch Shin Godzilla and imagine my own Godzilla films. WATCH THIS MOVIE