‘Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters’ shows a new side to the franchise

Gojira: Kaijû Wakusei (2017)

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017)

Directed by Kôbun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita

Toho Animation released “Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters” in 2017, and followed it up with two animated sequels the following year (all three directed by Kōhun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita and premiering on Netflix). After 29 live-action Godzilla movies (I have already reviewed the 29th, 2016’s “Godzilla Resurgence,” so I didn’t feel the need to post a new review), I was pumped to see how animation could give filmmakers freedom to tell new Godzilla stories that aren’t possible with live-action.

By about the year 2040, Godzilla and his buddies will have ravaged Earth to the point where it is unlivable. Nuclear attacks against the monster—all unsuccessful—have obliterated huge swaths of land. Those who have managed to survive retreat on a spaceship large enough to start a new colony. But their search for a new home planet yields no viable results, so they turn around to see if Earth might be salvageable. You see, while only about ten years has passed on the spaceship, back on Earth nearly 20,000 years have come and gone. Returning to Earth is just fine for Haruo (Mamoru Miyano) who once vowed revenge on Godzilla for killing his parents and ruining the lives of millions of people. Now, he’ll get his chance.

If I have one complaint, it’s that “Planet of the Monsters” is full of in-the-weeds hard science. The movie is plagued by over-explaining. Long scenes of “here’s how we do it” monologuing. Plus, all sorts of preachy sentimentality. You know the sort if you’ve ever seen an adult anime movie before. If I have a second complaint, it’s that all this talking takes up so much time, we barely see Godzilla. But when we do, boy is he cool. This is the bulkiest Godzilla yet. He’s an absolute unit. And thank goodness “Planet of the Monsters” isn’t afraid to show death. Godzilla causes some major damage, especially for an animated movie. I know anime is its own sort of beast, but still. This isn’t for young children, and I’m glad for it. (I’ve read there was an animated Godzilla series after the success of the 1998 movie, so maybe that’s better for the kiddos.)

The action-packed “Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters” introduces audiences to a new way of enjoying the 60-year-old character: animation. That and the use of a trilogy to develop a story over the course of several hours make for a new kind of Godzilla experience. About time.

6/10

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