Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters is part one of three of an animated series – the other two being City on the Edge of Battle and The Planet Eater – and while this review is mainly focused on the first one, a lot can also be carried over to the other two.
Forming part of a larger franchise revival by Godzilla creators Toho Studios, the series leans a lot harder into the sci-fi side then most of the other modern adaptations.
After humans nearly destroy Earth through war and environmental damage, Godzilla emerges from hibernation and forces the survivors to flee into space. After 20 years of drifting, they return to find 20,000 years have actually passed back home – although how is not really explained. However, Godzilla is still alive and so the humans must find a way to defeat the monster once and for all if they want to reclaim their planet.
As far as plots go, it’s not all that complex.
While the Godzilla franchise has always been heavily symbolical, Planet of the Monsters feels rather confused on this front.
There are some gestures made in the direction of environmentalism, but this is muddied by protagonist Haruo Sakaki constantly going on about how humans need to ‘take back Earth’ and return to their former glory, forgetting that it was that former glory that led to Godzilla emerging in the first place.
This could have worked if Sakaki was being set up for a grand realisation where he realises his attitude is wrong but nope, he’s mostly proven right in the end.
Speaking of mixed opportunities, there are two alien races fighting alongside the humans in this film for some reason. Not that it matters, since them being aliens doesn’t have much impact on the plot. You could honestly have made them human and next to nothing would have changed.
My biggest complaint, though, has got to be the animation. From a style perspective, it’s very pretty but once everything starts moving, it becomes a mess. Character models are stiff and expressionless and every move feels forced and janky.
Poor Godzilla suffers the worst from this and most of the time he’s on screen he barely moves at all.
In the end, Planet of the Monsters is an ambitious project with interesting ideas that fails on the delivery.