Thursday, October 1, 2020

Nerdbot Review: Godzilla: The Planet Eater

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Michael Rizzardi
From the ashes of a Barney obsession rose a lifelong Godzilla fanatic in Cleveland, OH...on top of whatever superhero comics, mecha anime, and tokusatsu shows Michael can get his hands on. If he's not out to dinner with his lovely girlfriend or at his piano grinding out synth tunes, you can bet he's got his eyes glued to a high octane piece of multimedia, ready to pick it apart for your entertainment.

The epic conclusion to Netflix’s Godzilla anime trilogy has finally arrived and—you know what? Who cares? Who actually cares? The Godzilla fans don’t care. I’ve been on the subreddit, there was a lot of hype for this movie. Aside from a few derogatory memes, Godzilla: The Planet Eater has been completely forgotten in favor of toy leaks and King of the Monsters countdowns.

But is the near complete lack of interest deserved? On paper, Planet Eater sounds pretty cool. After the destruction of Mechagodzilla City, Haruo is no closer to killing Godzilla, and the remaining survivors start picking sides. Amidst the struggle, alien cultist Metphies reveals the goal he’s been working toward since day one: to use Haruo as a conduit to summon his god, Ghidorah.

And Ghidorah is easily the best part of this movie. The three-headed space dragon has been re-imagined as a destructive entity from another dimension where the normal rules of time and physics don’t apply. Visually, Ghidorah appears as three glowing serpents with infinitely long necks flowing out of black holes in the sky. He’s like something out of a horror movie. The moment when he first arrives and devours his worshipers is super creepy. It’s breathtaking when he comes face to face with Godzilla, like two Lovecraftian demons about to duke it out in the end of days.

And boy, do they duke it out…for a few seconds. Once Ghidorah bites down on Godzilla, they stay locked that way for the next twenty minutes. Oh sure, there’s all this science talk about EMP shields and thermal readings and whatnot, but you’d get more thrills looking at the poster than watching the “fight.” Even when the action picks back up, it’s completely undercut by the glacial, choppy animation and the dinky harp music in the background.

And that’s been the big disappointment with this whole trilogy. They have all of these unique, creative ideas, but they lack the animation budget and the imagination to execute them in a satisfying way. Godzilla fighting an inter-dimensional death god nicknamed “The Golden Demise?” That should have been a dynamic show-stopper. But there’s no energy to it, no sense that the animators had any direction with it.

Fortunately, the human drama has improved, if only slightly. The way Metphies spins the survivors’ natural resistance to Mechagodzilla’s nanometal into a cultist miracle is some inspired commentary on religion. That said, main character Haruo is still just as uninteresting as ever. He spends most of the movie trying to figure which of the native twins is trying to sleep with him (spoiler: it’s both of them, and I still couldn’t tell you which was which.) Still, it’s better than the drawn out conversations from the last two installments.

In the end, any criticisms against this film are moot considering its place as the conclusion of a generally mediocre trilogy. Even if it was the best Godzilla movie in years, you’d still have to slog through two ridiculously boring movies to get to it. Stacked up against those, Planet Eater probably has the best pace, but that’s like saying a turtle would win a footrace against a snail.

Ultimately, the trilogy served one purpose: to keep Godzilla relevant to the public between Shin Godzilla and King of the Monsters. However, with the latter film’s marketing keeping hype at max, the Godzilla anime trilogy has been left as an awkward little experiment that is best left to diehard fans with a lot of time and patience on their hands.

2 out of 5 stars

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