Netflix Review – The Godzilla Trilogy (Planet of the Monsters, City on the Edge of Battle, The Planet Eater)

The largest Godzilla on film appears in these three movies that take place on a kaiju-ravaged Earth.

SUMMARY

It’s the future and giant monsters (Kaiju) have begun appearing all over Earth. Humanity tries to deal with them, but then a new threat arises, a giant monster capable of destroying human and beast alike: Godzilla. Earth is visited by two different species of aliens who promise to help them with the threat in exchange for some boon from humanity. The Exif, the first of the aliens, seek to take humanity to the stars and convert them to their religion. The second, the Bilusaludo, planned on moving to Earth and defeating Godzilla and the Kaiju with their mighty war-machine MechaGodzilla. Unfortunately, an attack prevents them from activating MechaGodzilla and humanity flees with the aliens to the stars, seeking a new home.

godzilla - 1humans
The art style is very distinct, but it works for the monsters.

20 years later, Captain Haruo Sakaki (Mamoru Miyano/Chris Niosi) together with an Exif priest named Metphies (Takahiro Sakurai/Lucien Dodge) figures out a way to kill Godzilla, which convinces the crew of the starship, who have failed to find a habitable planet, to return to Earth. What they find is that, due to time dilation from sub-lightspeed travel, 20,000 years have passed on the planet. In that time, Earth has become home to monsters. The crew must deal with this threat, the much bigger and badder Godzilla, the now-sentient remains of MechaGodzilla, and finally the planet-eater Ghidorah.

Godzilla - 2Godzilla.jpg
He’s like a giant mountain of lizard flesh and rage.

END SUMMARY

While there have been at least two different Godzilla animated series, I believe these are the first animated films in the franchise. They take advantage of this by filling the films with monsters ranging from the classics like Rodan and Mothra to the more mundane like the Servums, essentially flying creatures infected by Godzilla’s biology. Additionally, the Godzilla featured in this movie is the biggest by far on film. It starts off the film at approximately 50 meters tall, roughly the same height as the original 1954 Godzilla, but when it reappears it is a towering 300 meters, almost three times the 2014 Godzilla’s height, and that was, at the time, the largest on film. For perspective, it’s basically the height of the Chrysler building.

Godzilla - 3Sizes.jpg
The original Godzilla is basically a snack to this one.

Despite this, most of the focus of the film is on Haruo and his immense hatred towards Godzilla, the creature that killed his mother when he was a child. While we’ve often seen protagonists in Godzilla movies who are concerned about the threat that the monster presents to their country or their loved ones, I don’t think we’ve ever had this kind of relationship with the monster. In most of the movies it wouldn’t even be possible, because the kaiju typically are only out for a few days, whereas this film posits what would happen if they were out for millennia. Using relativity to give Godzilla time to evolve while also keeping someone around who remembers the original destruction was a great plot device.

Godzilla - 4Haruo.png
Watching him swear to kill a creature that views him as an ant is fun.

I’m trying to avoid spoiling the second and third movies more than you might get from just seeing the Netflix summary, so I’ll just say that the way that they handle MechaGodzilla and Ghidorah are both great. They don’t feel like they’re just rehashing stuff that the old franchise did, particularly with MechaGodzilla, but they also still seem like they’re justified as being added to the canon.

Godzilla - 5Ghidorah.png
Three heads of doooooooooooooooom.

The entire series has a weird number of themes, ranging from science versus faith to humanity versus nature, and while they aren’t fully fleshed out as much as I like, it’s still more than they had to do.

Overall, it’s a little rough to watch all three of them if you’re not a Godzilla fan, but maybe someone will recut them into a single, shorter movie online. If you’re a Godzilla fan, though, you should really try it.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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