“Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters”: Just Okay

Hail to the King of Monsters, baby!

Griffin Sonnemann-Creed, Columnist

For the first time in decades, Godzilla, King of the Monsters, has made yet another foray into the medium of animation – this time, in a Netflix-exclusive Japanese CGI anime. The triumphant return of our favorite lizard marks the first in a series of films, with the next to be released sometime next year. But was the film worthy of the great green giant? I’d say it’s a mediocre film at best.

When Godzilla first rampaged across the silver screen in 1954, he was created not to appeal to the world, but to one specific country – Japan, his homeland. Created as a metaphor for the nuclear bombs that were dropped just under a decade prior, Godzilla was a monster that punished the hubris of mankind. While the new film touches on these themes, it does not do so in a way that adds credence to it. Godzilla appears suddenly, without cause or reason. No justification is shown for his rampages, besides a vague and unfulfilling statement of his punishment of mankind for “playing God.” Indeed, the film feels less metaphorical and thought-provoking, and more like a giant monster flick. If that’s what you came for, though, that’s great!

Going alongside the story is the issue of character development. Likely because it’s because it’s a film, with only an 88 minute runtime, I felt barely any connection to the characters in the film. Most of the characters, such as protagonist Haruo Sakaki (Mamoru Miyano), are practically cliche tropes of your stereotypical anime characters – The hot headed protagonist, Haruo, the quiet, wise man, played by Takahiro Sakurai as Metphies; The love-interest Yuko Tani (Kana Hanazawa). In the end, all of the characters were forgettable and barely relevant to the story. Their only saving grace was their animation.

“Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters” uses a new form of animation, combining aspects of traditional, hand-drawn animation, cel-shading, and 3D CGI, to create beautiful landscapes and environments. The characters are drawn amazingly well, with artistic variety amongst both the main cast and the background characters spread throughout the film. Despite this, though, the animation style has problems of its own. One of the most glaring issues I noticed in the film was the lack of movement. Many characters, when multiple are in a scene, seem to lock up and freeze while the person speaking moves. Whether this is due to simple laziness on the animator’s part, or if it was too much of a strain on the movie, I don’t know. Problems like this detract from the quality of the film, and are noticeable even to those who are able to ignore the lack of a cohesive story.

In the end, “Godzilla” cannot be labelled exclusively as a failure or a success. Even if it does not appeal to many of the series’ original fans, it is a good film to simply ignore the story and watch for the action. While many of these story and character problems will likely be fixed in the sequels of the movie, it doesn’t stand well by itself. In the end, I’d rate it roughly a 5 out of 10.