Godzilla: The Planet Eater
*** out of five stars
Note: This is a film released as a Netflix original outside of Japan.
Godzilla: The Planet Eater is the last in a trilogy of animated Godzilla movies, following Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters and Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle.
The film continues the tale of humanity battling Godzilla in the far future on a drastically altered planet Earth. Our main hero, Captain Haruo Sakaki (voiced by Mamoru Miyano) is dealing with his grief due to recent losses in the battle of Mechagodzilla City. At the same time, the Exif priest Methphies (voiced by Takahiro Sakurai) schemes to summon his people’s god, the destructive Ghidorah. While Ghidorah could finally destroy Godzilla, the world would be annihilated in the process. What will become of Earth?
The Planet Eater is a nice finale to this trilogy. It has some strengths and weaknesses. I feel its biggest weakness is an abundance of exposition, mostly in its first act. We are given so much information that it is difficult to properly process it all. Once the action starts going, the film kicks into gear and its visuals carry more weight in moving the narrative forward.
One very intriguing aspect to the film are the dueling ideologies of humanity, the Exifs and the Houtua. Captain Haruo represents humanity here, and the desire for survival. The extraterrestrial Exifs, represented by Methphies, use Ghidorah to destroy planets because of the Exif’s belief in the entropic order of finite life. Earth’s current native people the Houtua, represented by twins Maina (voiced by Reina Ueda) and Miana (voiced by Ari Ozawa), have their own philosophy. Their concept of life, devoid of the notion of hatred, revolves around “winning” (surviving and making life) and “losing” (dying and disappearing).
Each of these sides are represented by their own monster (or kaiju). Godzilla can be seen as an extension of humanity, as he emerged during the peak of prosperity on Earth (and this possible connection is addressed by characters in the movie). Ghidorah is of course the Exifs’ monster. As for the spirit of the Houtua, its embodiment’s onscreen appearance is brief but will be recognized by fans of this franchise.
The Planet Eater, like the other entries in this trilogy, is a far cry from traditional Godzilla fare. The film’s ultimate message of humanity and its relationship with scientific ambitions and natural disasters, however, feels true to the Big G’s roots. Your interest in this film will depend on what you thought of its predecessors. In any case, while not a masterpiece, The Planet Eater ends this chapter in Godzilla history with style and may be the best of the trilogy. God(zilla) speed, you kings of movie monsters.