Who Ya Gonna Call?
What’s the Story?
After surviving the attack of the original Godzilla, Captain Haruo and the remnants of the landing party found their way to the long-forgotten Mechagodzilla. Over the centuries the nano-metal that made up Mechagodzilla had developed into a self-replicating city and with it’s power humanity and their allies hoped to finally take down the King of Monsters. They came so close, but a difference in philosophy between the humans and the Bilusaludo led Haruo to make a deadly choice. He could either defeat Godzilla once and for all, or try to protect the woman he loves. Haruo made his choice and now Godzilla sleeps, but a more dangerous threat is coming towards the Earth. As the survivors of the battle turn to the religion of the Exif in search of a miracle, Metphies begins to show his true colours. What can really challenge a God, except for another God.
And so we come to the end of this trilogy of animated Godzilla films, and I have to say even with my lowered expectations they’ve been kinda disappointing. My opinions of the first two films can be summed up as ‘they’re okay, nothing terrible and there are some fun ideas, but nothing that really blew me away ’ (if you want more details you can read my review of ‘Planet of the Monsters’ HERE and ‘City on the Edge of Battle’ HERE). This final films takes on a more melancholy tone than its predecessors as it explores ideas of nihilism, the pain of living on after loss and mankind’s inevitable march towards its own destruction. So fun times all round. I joke, and while I don’t agree with everything that this film has to say on those subjects, they’re at least interesting ideas to chew on, which when I think about it sums up this trilogy pretty well.
There are several problems that plague this film throughout it’s hour and a half runtime, but let’s get the big one out of the way first, fan expectation. Godzilla is a long-running franchise and over the decades its films have built up certain expectations. When you think of Godzilla you imagine buildings crumbling, terrified people running through the streets, atomic breath and so on. When you hear particular names like Mechagodzilla or Ghidorah you get a clear picture in your head of what to expect. For the most part this trilogy has taken those concepts and done its best to subvert them in one way or another. Now there’s nothing wrong with subverting an old idea, in fact I always try to encourage it. Without new twists or perspectives those old ideas can soon become stale and boring, as much as our nostalgia would like to argue otherwise.
Now, admittedly, I did go off on a bit of a rant in my ‘City on the Edge of Battle’ review (HERE) about Mechagodzilla and I admit I have a particular fondness for that monster. That being said I think where a lot of the subversions in these films fall down is that they don’t offer an appealing enough alternative to the original idea. A technologically advance super city is not as appealing as a giant metal dinosaur, I’m sorry. That brings me to Ghidorah in this film. Again this is a completely new take on Monster Zero, but I think it’s interesting. The fact it’s from another universe and therefore interacts with our universe in such a strange way makes it an interesting adversary to square off against for the final battle, at least on paper. I also don’t mind the design, yes it’s three extra long noodle necks coming out of the sky, but they’re gold and have dragon-like heads so we’re at least in the same ballpark as the Ghidorah I know and love (okay, maybe we’re in the car park of the ballpark, but I’ll take what I can get).
Again though, we come back to what I was saying about expectations. Ghidorah and Godzilla had an epic rivalry across the films and some great battles and yet in this film it’s just…just so boring. I hesitate to even call it a fight, Ghidorah floats around for a bit and just bites Godzilla, that’s it. Godzilla can’t do anything ‘cause it can’t touch Ghidorah and eventually just gets lifted into the air. It doesn’t help that while this is going on Haruo is getting lectured at by Metphies on the dogma of his nihilistic death cult. Also, yes, of course the uber-religious guy turns out to be the big cackling villain at the end, I expected nothing less, now please stop bashing me over the head with the idea that you think religion is a bad thing. I’m getting a headache just remembering those scenes and I’m not even a religious person.
In the end, Godzilla: The Planet Eater is definitely the weakest in this trilogy of animated films. There are some interesting ideas to chew on and, again, I like the world this trilogy has built up, but the characters all remain fairly one-note and the more melancholy tone can make this a much more depressing watch. The lack of action or any real spectacle is also a big detriment to this film, as well as the way it tries to subvert expectations without any real substantive alternative to replace it. I thought going in with lower expectations would improve this film and it’s predecessors, but as it stands I can see why they got all the negative reaction they did. If you’re a kaiju or Godzilla fan in any way, skip these films.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.