As a tremendous fan of the Godzilla franchise, I eagerly awaited the 32nd installment in the series. A Godzilla anime? Would that work? I had to know. I’ve just now had a chance to view Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters on Netflix, and I have thoughts. Expect a full review soon, but I just wanted to jot down some of my first impressions, until I’ve had time to marinate on this film.
First off, I love the concept. After earth is beset by years of kaiju destruction, particularly destruction caused by Godzilla, humanity, with help from an alien race, flees Earth. 22 years they’ve traveled in hopes of in finding a planet they can colonize. Unfortunately, the planet they had picked for colonization is uninhabitable. With dwindling resources and manpower, the surviving humans are forced to make a return trip to the only planet they know: Earth. As they have been traveling near lightspeed, while only 22 years have elapsed for them, 20,000 years have passed on Earth. Since humanity left, the monsters have taken over, and Godzilla reigns supreme. This is the first time I’ve seen in a science-fiction story where they address the fact that when you are traveling at or close to the speed of light it causes a disparity in the time you experience when compared to objects not moving anywhere near as fast. The Earth they left was being destroyed by Godzilla. The Earth they’ve returned to has undergone 20, 000 years of transformation, with Godzilla and Godzilla-like creatures as the dominant species.
Shin-Godzilla did some unconventional things with “Big G”. This film continues that trend. In humanity’s absence, all of Earth has been irrevocably changed by Godzilla, becoming part of him in some way, both the fauna and the flora. Flying creatures Godzilla-like creatures are wreaking havoc, and the plant life is razor sharp. Godzilla himself seems to have evolved from plant life, his skin like bark and his dorsal plates like giant leaves. It’s weird to think of Godzilla as a giant plant, but in GMK he was the manifestation of the vengeful spirits of Japanese, WWII soldiers, so it’s not the weirdest thing he’s ever been.
While this movie is unique among the rest of the Godzilla films for the sheer novelty of it being an anime. Sadly, as an anime, it’s pretty underwhelming. There is far too much exposition. All the action is relegated to the last 20 minutes. There is a bit of a bait and switch regarding Godzilla, with a revelation I won’t spoil, but that comes at the very end of the film. It ends with a cliffhanger, no resolution. That would have been fine if the story had felt like it had a beginning, middle, and end, but it didn’t. I felt like I was watching the first part of a multi-part story, and that’s exactly what it is. Netflix even calls it an “original series”, and this film is “Part 1”. So my advice for those that watch this is to view it as such. Again, this is not my full review. I plan to go more in-depth when I’ve had a chance to watch the film a few times. As it stands now, I’m kinda disappointed.
Also, the theme song “White Out” by Xai is amazing!