Friday, November 17, 2017

Godzilla: Monster Planet


Maybe the less-than-half-full theater on opening night should have tipped me off.

I just returned from Godzilla: Monster Planet (or Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters or whatever we're supposed to call it this week), and I really don't have that much to say. It's essentially what I expected it to be.

That's not a good thing, by the way. For one thing, it's incredibly boring. It repeats the worst aspects of Shin Godzilla by having too many expository scenes in which the characters look at futuristic screens and plan their attacks on Godzilla. Monster Planet? Planet of the Monsters? Either way, we sure don't get what we're told. Other than a lackluster flashback scene toward the beginning, the only monsters we get are Godzilla and some rather generic pteranodon lookalikes.

The animation seemed to vary wildly from pretty impressive to unfinished. Some scenes of Godzilla are very well done (to a surprising extent, actually), but in a number of the human scenes, it seemed rather rushed. The aforementioned flashback scene at the beginning was particularly disappointing, as the monsters barely even seemed to move. Did the animators run out of money?

All this could be just me, I suppose. I don't watch anime, have no interest in it, and wouldn't know what passes for good animation these days. From where I sit, though, the animation just didn't really seem movie-worthy.

For all those who complain about the child protagonists in the Showa-era Godzilla (and Gamera) films, wait till you get a load of this flick's main character, Haruo, who virtually never stops sneering or screaming in angst. We get it. He has a vendetta against Godzilla. And this time it's personal. But the dial doesn't have to stay on 11 the whole way. There are ways to emote without uttering primal screams. Just sayin'.

Takayuki Hattori's score varies as much as the animation does, running the gamut from forgettable to the worst music I've ever heard him compose. (For the record, Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla remains my favorite score of his, by far.)

I actually like the Godzilla design, and I think the premise is a cool concept. I just wish it had a much better execution. A large chunk of the problem, I'm sure, is that this story will be stretched out over a trilogy, so all the filler comes with the territory. While it may not be good storytelling, I'm sure it's good business.

On the way out of the theater, I bumped into a Japanese fan whom I often see at events. I asked him if he liked the movie. He laughed, shook his head, and said no. We both laughed as we went over some of the film's more egregious flaws. I guess that's probably not a great sign.

Shin Godzilla certainly divided fans, but I really don't see anyone championing this film. There's really just not much to it, other than a few interesting shots of Godzilla. I wish I could have hit the mute button whenever Haruo was on screen, but I guess the folks who watch it on Netflix will have that advantage over me.

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