Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters

Geoff Harris

Godzilla: Planet of Monsters is a Netflix Original and it is pretty damn cool.  Computer-animated by Toho Animation and produced by Polygon Pictures, this kaiju film is the thirtieth in the franchise and the first fully animated film to date. In the later half of the 20th Century, giant creatures begin appearing world wide and wreaking havoc and destruction in their wake. The greasiest of these is Godzilla, a towering lizard who can absorb energy and breath atomic fire.  Humanity’s days on Earth are running short when salvation arrives in the form of alien spaceships from beyond our system. The Exif seek to convert humans to their religion while the Bilusaludo are looking to immigrate to Earth and offer an exchange of information. Godzilla makes life very uncomfortable for the newcomers, who use their advanced tech against the beast to no avail.  Broken and defeated, human and alien alike leave Earth in a huge space ark in search of another habitable world.

20 years later and 11.9 light years away, the ark is wracked with controversy, a shortage of supplies, and an ever-increasingly scarce chance of finding a world to colonize. The controversy revolves around Captain Harou Sakaki who is in protest of the governing counsel’s decision to send a group of elderly, including his grandfather, to a planet he feels is uninhabitable. Sakaki has threatened to bomb the planet unless the elderly are returned. After relenting, Sakaki returns to the ark only to watch as the shuttle explodes as it lands. He’s accused of sabotage and thrown into the brig. He believes there is a conspiracy to weed out the populace by selecting the old and infirm to be sent to planets that cannot be colonized. If the planet kills them then its a canary in the coal mine loss. Food and water are running short and politics are starting to get downright draconian. After release from jail, Sakaki secretly publishes a manifesto outlaying a plan to not only return to Earth but also theories on how to kill Godzilla. Metphies, a Exif priest, has been the one giving our hero the classified information he’s been using to create his plan. Metphies seems to have an agenda of his own but that is not explored at this time.

Metphies outs Sakaki as the author of the manifesto but uses their surprise to his advantage. The council agrees that returning to Earth is the only viable option left to them. Channeling what little fuel they have left, the ark returns via hyperspace twenty thousand years after they left! Drawing a logical conclusion that Godzilla would be long dead by now, and conversely without children because he was a singular being, they set about exploring what in many ways is an alien world. Life had evolved since man left. Now plants and animals have become techno-organic in nature. The air is filled with metallic pollen making visibility difficult. And the monsters are still around only now sharing the same qualities of fusion. It’s a mockery of Paradise.

Not to mention there’s a Godzilla running around too.

The bulk of the film deals with the exploratory team fighting Godzilla. Sakaki goes from being a social misfit to the leader of the all out war against the beast. He has spent most of his life obsessing over how to kill the King of Monsters. The returning travelers manage to actually kill Godzilla by exploiting a weakness in his biology but the victory is cut short because that wasn’t Godzilla. The real Godzilla rises from underground, 300 feet taller and just as angry as he was back in the past. There’s a bit of a teaser at the end but I’ll keep that to myself. Watch the movie.

I don’t normally watch anime but this was an exception being a huge Godzilla/Kaiju fan. The animation is top notch although a few scenes did get a bit muddled in the blending of color and action. The voice acting was very  sharp and conveyed the character’s emotions well. I do question the lopsidedness of Harou Sakaki’s character but that is a trope among most anime. The two-dimensional character who either grows and expands in depth or ends a narrative basically the same as they began it. Also, like most anime, there is a scant amount of exposition. Details and information are given in small trickles. The story is the central focus unlike Western storytelling which often includes a character who’s sole purpose is to update the audience on details of the plot up to a point or to reveal details we may missed.

This is part one of a trilogy. I look forward to watching the next installment. It’s a good action movie and treats Godzilla the way he should be handled; he is death incarnate. Is there more going on here? Very possibly. Metphies seems to know more than he’s telling and there’s still the mystery of why the ship carrying Sakaki’s grandfather blew up. Some things never find answers. A tale is in the telling.

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