Godzilla Vs. Hipster-saurus.
Rejoice, Godzilla fans! There are no less than THREE Godzilla timelines currently roaring through Earth’s spacetime biosphere.
There is the Legendary Pictures reboot timeline, starting with GODZILLA (2014), Toho Company’s chilling redesign reboot, SHIN GODZILLA (2016), and now Toho Company’s animated trilogy, kicked off with this stunning entry, GODZILLA: MONSTER PLANET (2017).
MONSTER PLANET is a Godzilla purist’s wet dream: firstly, Godzilla is back in the badboy books – truly a bane to humanity, driving the species off-Earth, no less! And second, it’s a no-holds-barred combat film. Godzilla Vs. Humans. No quarter given, no panty-waisted puling, no pisses by the roadside. Pure, unadulterated, lethal battle, soldiers being murdered by Godzilla, battalions tactically converging on the gigantic animal to kill it with extreme prejudice.
Our hero is 20-something sexyboy Haruo (Mamoru Miyano original voice, Chris Niosi English dub), who, as a young boy, saw his parents killed by Godzilla. In a flashback, we witness the magnificent cartooning and story elements that go into making that scene an emotional hammer, as Haruo is dragged along by his grandfather during the attack, no time to weep, no time to mourn. Also, the manner in which this young boy is being pulled along is human figure animation at its best. They say it’s “computer animation” but the underplaying expressions on faces and the authenticity of small movements make me suspect there may be motion capture involved as well.
The flashback montage tells us that in the late 20th century, gigantic monsters appeared and annihilated humanity, and one monster annihilated the rest – Godzilla. Humans were shocked to receive TWO extra-terrestrial alien visitations, both cultures claiming they would deter Godzilla if given asylum. They failed. But they formed an alliance with humans nonetheless, and they all held hands and evacuated into space together. (Unless these aliens fulfill some plot point later in the trilogy, I cannot understand why these extra characters necessarily had to be “aliens,” except that they are portrayed as calm and logical, and intermediaries between two humans comparing dick size, in other words, they are the Spock to Haruo’s Kirk.)
11 LIGHT YEARS LATER, the faraway planet they thought was habitable proves unsuitable, so they must return to Earth, calculating that the round trip time dilation puts them 10,000 years into Earth’s future. Maybe Godz is no more? “That thing is a unique genetic aberration – it’s impossible that it multiplied!”
Since the ship was in deep space for over 20 years, all the hipsters and Generation Z gather at the windows, excited to see the legendary home planet for the first time as they orbit in. (But wait!—They used a “time-jump” to get back to Earth from 11 light years away, and I presume they used time-jumps to get out there as well. These jumps take but a few minutes to achieve their destination. Einstein’s time dilation only applies when you travel in “real” time (i.e. not through wormholes). Maybe they were gone for 22 years, but they certainly didn’t travel in real time for 22 years at the speed of light, so if they’re traveling everywhere instantaneously, well, then Earth would be older by… 22 years.)
But it gets worse, Movie Maniacs – they miscalculate (no shit!) and arrive 20,000 years later! And their instruments tell them Godzilla is still down there! [Well, he’s only 22 years older—Shut yo’ mouth, Poffy! Let them have their fun!] What I want to know is: Godzilla eats radiation. For 20,000 years, where was he getting sustenance?
Our humans and aliens don’t want to turn back ’round and flee again, so resort to a radical battle plan circulating unauthorized on their public internet – an audacious operation that would take Godzilla out. Haruo steps forward as the originator of that very plausible strategy.
Though just a young soldier, Haruo ends up leading a strategic force to carry out his plan – to short-circuit a gland in Godzilla’s body that regulates a kind of shield generation, so they can implant an electromagnetic pulse to fry Godz from within.
Directed by Hiroyuki Seshita and Kobun Shizuno, the straightforward story in MONSTER PLANET (by Gen Urobuchi) is elevated by the ingenious animation. Camera angles are as creative as if this was a live action shoot, especially the tracking cams around Godzilla’s body as the soldiers fly around him; due to being animated, cameras can float in from any angle, making this one of the most dynamic Godzilla films ever produced. Motion blur, lighting, shadows, all meticulously crafted, and elements that are not the subject of the scene are out of focus! We actually start taking it for granted that it’s a feature film, meaning, we lose ourselves in the story’s singular thrust and none of those filmmaking elements jumps out at us as distractions.
There are computer holograms, fireballs that look so authentic they are the very definition of Pretty Orange Explosions, studied framing during the battles (at no point do we ever get cross-eyed on who’s flying which hoverbike around the back of which dorsal spikes); the color palette is military drab, with each uniform exhibiting the scuff-marks of use – it’s a grim, somber look that reflects the seriousness of their mission – this is not a cartoon to appeal to infants.
The legit cartooning is this movie’s drawcard, and I have to admit – that’s what keeps this adventure so entertaining, even if the characters might seem like they are not being granted much depth. The character designs are controlled and realistic – no characters have big eyes and go “Ooouwaaah!” with speed lines behind them.
And Godzilla himself? He’s been hitting the gym and he’s shredded! Loosely designed on the 2014 Legendary model, termed Godzilla Earth, his arms and legs are humanly-muscled and cut like cables. No more thunder thighs! Interesting to note that even though animation allows the filmmakers the potential to do anything with Godzilla’s facial expressions, they keep his face static, as we’ve always known Godz from his headpiece days… He’s pumped, pissed, and bigger than any Godzilla ever to walk the planet.
That is, until the final frames, when an older Godzilla rises from beneath a mountain – and he’s bigger than the mountain…