Godzilla: The Planet Eater // Review
Fighting Fire with Three-Headed Inter-Dimensional Fire
Humanity was Doomed from the Start: The Characters
I have seen both of the animated Godzilla films before watching The Planet Eater, and I was disappointed in both of them. Now I that have seen all three, I can say I am disappointed in all of them. Sakaki Haruo is our main character. His primary trait is that he hates Godzilla with every fiber of his being. It is a bit ironic that in a movie where the main character hates Godzilla, that it is Godzilla we are left rooting for at times.
Sakaki Haruo is probably one of the few characters whose motivations make sense. He hates Godzilla and there is nothing stopping him from defeating the beast or die trying. The commanders up in the spaceship make continuously selfish and moronic moves. All jeopardizing the mission. The ground crew all become weird religious fanatics after watching Godzilla wipe everyone out for the second time. But is the Exif, the elf-like alien race, whose purpose makes the least sense. Through two movies they have been biding their time to unleash the most sinister force upon the world.
The Arrogant Aliens Among Us
The Bilusaludo, the other engineering focused alien race, are in a pissing match with the human command over what to do from the fallout of the last movie. No one can agree so they try to shutdown the spaceship. In response the human command flounders. Both sides act like idiots and fail to act when Ghidorah appears. It feels like there was no point in showing much of their struggle when they were doomed from the start. Working together against Ghidorah wasn’t going to save them. Driving them apart didn’t give more fodder to the Exif to summon their god.
The Exif are the most interesting group to watch even if none of what they do makes sense. Their entire existence at this point is to summon Ghidorah and end life on a planet. It really isn’t clear how they intended to do it, or why it took them so long to enact their plan. They literally talk as though gods are real, but they are actually scientifically sound. Then they convince the rest of humanity to help them summon their own demise. Why did it take three movies to make a move? Why was Haruo the key to helping Ghidorah manifest physically on Earth. These are some of the questions that are left open even after the battle is won.
Going All in on 3D Animation Style: The Animation
There is something to be said for the style of the movie. Some parts look absolutely gorgeous. Other aspects of the movie are a downright disappointment.
Godzilla’s thick and metallic design continues to be one of the best parts of the movie. He is slow moving. He is monstrous in his size. Something about his physique makes him a terrifying force to behold. The firing of his atomic breath is arguably the best part of the movie. It has a fantastic buildup watching the cracking of energy surrounding the spikes on his back. It unleashes with extraordinary force. Too bad it wasn’t enough to stop Ghidorah.
Ghidorah’s design is in stark contrast to Godzilla’s. We knew from the previews that he was not going to represent the classic look. The three headed look was just that. There was no body, wings, or tail to speak of. Even the design of the heads is rather disappointing. It is supposed to represent a god from another dimension but it really just looks like a weird glowing bird with a thin beak. The heads are unconnected and too different from what we know and love. Godzilla is done uniquely with respect to the original, whereas the planet eater is not.
Most of the human/alien characters look rather generic. Our hero of the day Haruo doesn’t have any particularly outstanding characteristics. Two of the female leads from the Houtua literally look identical and clearly are using the same character model. One is named Miana and one is named Maina. To be fair to the Houtua, their overall design is rather cool. They have some interesting tribal designs and tattoos across their bodies that are well featured throughout the movie.
Out of the Fire and Into the Oven: The Action
There are two big action set pieces of note in this film. First is the destruction of Aratrum, and second is the battle between gods. The destruction surrounding the Aratrum was the highlight of the film. It is actually quite an intense scene watching the team aboard the spaceship realize that the laws of physics no longer apply to them. All they do is futile as Ghidorah consumes them and destroys the last hope of humanity.
The battle of the gods on the other hand is slow, brutal, and boring. King Ghidorah’s entrance to this world is magnificent. He descends upon Earth in mighty form. Its just that his attack on Godzilla leaves much to be desired. Yes, Godzilla does attempt to put up a fight. He fires his atomic breath which is repelled by Ghidorah’s un-earthliness. Then the fight slows to a crawl which lasts though the climax of the movie. Once Ghidorah has Godzilla in his grasp there isn’t much the king of the monsters can do against the planet eater. Its an all out snore-fest from that point on.
Mothra Is in This?
There is about a minute in this movie where Mothra is in the film. Like Mechagodzilla of the last movie, another classic Godzilla foe is dumped on. I may not liked the art design of King Ghidora, but the movie treats him with some reverence in terms of relevance to the plot of the film. Mothra appears on screen for about a minute during a glorified dream sequence. She does not make any other appearance in the film. Mothra does not actually get to fight either Godzilla or Ghidora. It is quite the disappointment.
Like Haruo’s last stand, the movie makes me want to jump into a flying mech and charge into Godzilla. There are some great things about this movie that just don’t come together. The final battle is an immense disappointment just after the last one. Motivations from people come from a weird place, especially the Exif aliens and their god. Only Sakaki Haruo makes sense and he literally has Godzilla kill him because he doesn’t want to live on a planet where Godzilla exists. If you have been watching the Godzilla anime movie series up and until this point you might as well finish it out. Just don’t expect anything redeeming. Thank you Netflix for trying. I hope the next major adaptation is better.
[Images via Official Site]