Movie Review: Godzilla: The Planet Eater

I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.

by Caleb

Final score: 3/5

There’s few things I enjoy more than a good kaiju romp. I’m so horny for watching giant monsters smash shit. So if you make a Godzilla movie that teases Ghidora and Mothra, and then make it entirely about the human protagonists, I hate you.

Godzilla does a whole two things in this movie: he fails to defeat Ghidora, and then he defeats Ghidora. He clocks in about 10 minutes of screen time, spending most of the film in a catatonic state and making way for the anime protagonist to battle his rival. The monsters aren’t the plot. They’re used to drive the plot forward when it’s convenient.

For all its faults, this movie has some interesting things going on. This is the end of the trilogy that began with Planet of the Monsters and continued with City on the Edge of Battle. There’s some good character work here, as well as an extremely interesting interpretation of one of the greatest foes Godzilla has ever faced, King Ghidora. However, the film as a whole kind of falls flat on its face.

In broad strokes, the plot revolves around humanity’s attempt to reclaim their home planet after it is conquered by Godzilla, causing them to flee into the far reaches of outer space. When Godzilla appeared, so did two races of aliens: the Exif and the Bilusaludo. The Exif are a religious faction, urging humanity to join their belief system, while the Bilusaludo are masters of technology, promising to defeat Godzilla once and for all with their creation: Mechagodzilla. The Bilusaludo fail to activate Mechagodzilla in time, and humanity evacuates Earth. Captain Haruo Sakaki, a young human officer who was a boy during the evacuation, spends their 20 year journey brooding about Godzilla. When humanity can’t find a new home, he jumps at the chance to reclaim Earth. The only problem is that, due to general relativity, 20,000 years have passed on Earth while the humans made their voyage, and the ecosystem has adapted to Godzilla’s presence. They also discover the Houtua, a race of people with psychic abilities and some insect-like genetic features who worship a dormant Mothra, who is contained in an egg. This is not the Earth from Sakaki’s childhood.

The second installment, City on the Edge of Battle involves the Bilusaludo’s attempt to activate Mechagodzilla, which has changed into a city-wide complex of self-replicating nanomachines, in an attempt to destroy Godzilla. It was altogether very good, so my hopes were sky-high for The Planet Eater.

The Planet Eater begins with Sakaki being blamed for Mechagodzilla City not being able to destroy Godzilla, following nicely from the events of the previous installment. Methphies, the leader of the Exif, uses humanity’s despair to convert many of them to his beliefs. The sinister secret that Methphies has been hiding is finally revealed: they aren’t simply a religious order, they are a death cult which worships Ghidorah and intends to summon him to destroy the Earth (this is a slight spoiler, but was basically already stated in a post-credits scene in G:CatEoB).

What follows would be fine in any other film series. Like I said, there’s some interesting stuff going on here. But this is a Godzilla movie, dammit. Spoilers, Mothra never emerges from her egg. Ghidora comes through a portal, manifesting as three long golden serpents, but Godzilla can’t damage it because the serpents are phasing between dimensions. Then some plot happens, and Godzilla is able to damage Ghidora, and repels it easily, and then goes back to sleep, like it has been for the entire movie along with the audience.

The animation is fine, the writing is fine, and the voice acting is fine, but this isn’t a Godzilla movie, which is why I am giving it a middling 3 stars out of 5.