By Harry H.
If you wouldn’t previously have considered yourself a Godzilla fan, now might be a good time to start. With a sequel to the Legendary Productions’ 2014 offering, Godzilla, currently in post-production and Toho’s 2016 flick, Shin Godzilla, rumoured to be landing in 2020 – not to mention Legendary’s highly anticipated Godzilla vs Kong – it’s a good time to be alive.
But wait! Netflix wants a bite of the apple too? With Toho animation in an anime adaptation? If anybody reading this happens to need a good lawyer, give Netflix a call. It sounds like they can hook you up.
With directors Hiroyuki Seshita and Kobun Shizuno at the helm, we have plenty of reason to be excited about Planet of Monsters. Their work on TV, film and games such as Nights of Sidonia, Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy X should make this a fantastical science-fiction treat. From the get-go, it fosters intrigue by introducing us to a mutineering protagonist and the seemingly hopeless endeavours of our space-traveling characters.
Next comes a captivating opening credits scene, wherein the world of Planet of Monsters is wrapped up and given to us like a lavish Christmas present. The inspiration is engrossing and a little reminiscent of some Godzilla films from the mid-late Showa era, such as Destroy all Monsters and Invasion of the Astro Monster. Fortunately, we’re spared Godzilla’s celebratory dance moves in this one.
However, like many lavishly wrapped Christmas presents, upon closer inspection this one loses us and goes to the back of the wardrobe. It’s not uncommon – nor unforgivable, for that matter – for Godzilla to make his appearance over 45 minutes into a film; but it is when characters are simply talking at each other and doing little to progress the plot. Some of this time could have been used to explain why 20 years of space travel correlates to 20,000 years on earth – there’s no mention of suspended animation or cryo-sleep, so we’re left to assume there’s simply down to timey-wimey space portal stuff at play. The word ‘boring’ comes to mind.
Quite disappointingly, the titular ‘Planet of Monsters’ is severely lacking in monsters. It would have been wonderful to see the writers put their ingenuity towards some awesome creature designs – come on guys! All we’ve got here are some batty-dragons and Godzilla’s epic Iggy-Pop pecs. This is apparently the first part of a trilogy though, so there may be more monsters to come. That said, it’s unlikely the film has quite achieved the necessary success to earn a sequel.
On the plus side, the Planet of Monsters is redeemed by an action-packed finale. We’re treated to a Godzilla battle like no other seen before, in which he takes on a barrage of futuristic battle tech, from plasma shooting tanks to rapid-fire flying motorbikes. These closing action scenes return promise to the ‘trilogy’ and suggest that the there is potential for improvement in any upcoming films. But why couldn’t we have more action like this earlier on in the film? There was so much time wasted on nonsensical boring chatter which could have been used to show off more monsters, more futuristic weapons – maybe even a monster-on-monster brawl!
Overall, the best way to describe this film is that it’s ‘alright’. It starts off well, but then falls flat before waking up its audience for the finale. When comparing quality and entertainment value with the other 32 Godzilla films, it’ll probably go down as mid-range. It doesn’t hold a candle to the most recent films of 2014 and 2016, so if you’ve not seen them, check them out.
Verdict: An opportunity unexplored