Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2018) is the first animated film about the titular monster and it’s film number thirty-two in the franchise. It was produced by Toho and released by Netflix with a story penned by none other than Gen Urobuchi (Madoka Magica, Psycho-Pass). The concept, a futuristic sci-fi universe that has been decimated by Godzilla, is a fresh take but unfortunately the execution leaves a lot to be desired.
Humanity has been ousted from their home planet by Godzilla, who has destroyed most of the population. The last of the humans board a ship and travel light-years away but they eventually start running out of resources (this has shades of the plot of Battlestar Galactica) and they decide to figure out a way to return to earth and destroy Godzilla.
While the story is excellent on paper, way too much of the exposition is front-loaded into the first two acts of the film with a lot of time spent watching characters talk back-and-forth. This is not to say that the narrative needs to have action every five minutes, but the pacing is off and it feels like it takes too long to finally get to any sort of forward plot movement. This is something that is inherent in a lot of Urobuchi’s work as he loves to craft complex stories, but it’s up to the director to supply this lore in an interesting manner.
Unfortunately, Planet of the Monsters drags immensely for most of its run-time. The characters felt flat and uninteresting. Polygon Studios was chosen to animate the film and their signature style is a CGI cel-shaded look. It was used in previous Netflix anime productions to include Blame! (2017) and Knights of Sidonia (2015). I personally find it visually unappealing, as for the most part, they don’t take advantage of the 3D models. The staging and camera work still acts like it’s utilizing 2D animation and it looks garish and awkward.
The characters never seem like they are an organic part of the scene as the backgrounds have more of a painterly look to them. The action scenes are okay, nothing too special. It is cool that they are fighting Godzilla with mechas and futuristic weapons, but the action choreography is bland. I also wasn’t a huge fan of Godzilla’s redesign in this film and the texture work on him looks awful. This is apparently the first film in a trilogy so I have hope that the next two films fare better pacing-wise since most of the lore-building occurred in this first outing. I found this movie to have promise and I hope they build upon it. 2.5/5 Bibles.