Friday, 19 January 2018

Film Review: "Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters" ("ゴジラ: 怪獣惑星") (2017).

"Who will be extinct, Humanity or Godzilla?" This is the question asked in Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (ゴジラ: 怪獣惑星). This Japanese computer-animated science fiction kaiju film co-directed by Kōbun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita, written by Gen Urobuchi, produced by Toho Animation, and animated by Polygon Pictures. This is the 32nd film in the Godzilla franchise, the 30th Godzilla film produced by Toho, and the first animated film in the franchise. Years into the future and the human race has been defeated several times by the new ruling force of the planet: "kaijus". And the ruler of that force is Godzilla, The King of the Monsters. Humanity is in such defeat, plans to leave the planet have been made, and several people have been chosen to look at a new planet to see if it is inhabitable. Realizing it's not, though, the human race resorts to plan B: to defeat Godzilla and take back their planet.

In August 2016, Toho announced that an animated Godzilla film was being developed, targeted for a 2017 release. In addition, this will be the first entry in a trilogy, with the second and third installments tentatively scheduled for release in 2018. Ironically, it was originally envisioned as an anime series, but the success of Shin Godzilla's Japanese theatrical release convinced the creators to combine the narrative into a trilogy of movies and put them into cinemas in Japan. Gen Urobuchi, and Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita were announced as the writer, and co-directors, as well as Polygon Pictures providing the animation. In January 2017, Urobuchi announced the main cast on his twitter account, which included Mamoru Miyano, Takahiro Sakurai, Tomokazu Sugita, Junichi Suwabe, Kenta Miyake, Kana Hanazawa, Yūki Kaji, Daisuke Ono, Kenyu Horiuchi, Kazuya Nakai, and Kazuhiro Yamaji. In March 2017, Toho announced that the film would be the first film in a new trilogy. About the production, co-director Shizuno stated, "From the start, we had the blessing of Toho to not be constrained by previous entries in the franchise, and with the freedom of imagination offered by animation I feel we have come up with a cool new form for Godzilla." On Godzilla's new design, co-director Seshita stated, "With his masses of muscle fibers and unique body tissue to support his enormous bulk, this is an extraordinarily rugged-looking physique. It was an overwhelming presence that reverberated through the whole project, like a fearsome deity that even we who created it must prostrate ourselves before. That is our Godzilla."

For Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, directors Shizuno and Seshita, and writer Urobuchi, unleashed all of their potent excesses back into the world of Godzilla, for better and/or worse. Chilling and occasionally thoughtful exploration of the mythology of Godzilla with an environmental perspective, gratifying character interactions, terrific action scenes and production design. If you're looking for a story with loyalty to the Godzilla lore, you won't find it here, but as darkly-tinged sci-fi action monster romps with a unique concept and premise go, you could do much worse.

Simon says Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (ゴジラ: 怪獣惑星) receives:

Also, see my review for Shin Godzilla (シン・ゴジラ).

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