Godzilla/Gojira has had a long history. From the original movie where he was an allegory for the nuke and is widely accepted as one of the best movies of all time.
He then went through several eras, the Showa era where he became a lot more child friendly and goofy. The Heisei era where they went back to his force of nature roots, that terrible American movie from the 90s that just wanted to be Jurassic Park resulting in Japan getting pissed off and creating the Millennium era which is basically more of Heisei with better effects and recently the new American Monsterverse where we are getting his second film King of the Monsters shortly (also Shin Godzilla in Japan and it’s also really good).
All these however have been live action and that has limited what they could do. But what of animation, well outside of 2 cartoon series Godzilla hasn’t ventured into an animated movie, surely with no limits of what can be done we can see Godzilla realized to whole new levels…. at least it should have.
Godzilla Monster Planet is a computer generated (CG) animated Kaiju film (giant monsters, even though technically Daikaiju is the correct term but Kaiju just sounds better) by Toho Animation, Polygon Studios in association with Netflix (where you can see it). It is part of a trilogy of movies set in a world where the monsters won, or more specifically Godzilla.
The film starts with back story talking about the rise of giant monsters (with cameos from many of the back catalog of Tohos Kaiju) and though man could fight them off it was costly, until Godzilla. Aliens came to help (spoiler they had ulterior motives) but even they couldn’t defeat Godzilla and so as much of man that was left and could fit in the big ship fled the planet to try and find a new one. They don’t – the planet they went to is uninhabitable – so they head back to Earth in hope for supplies. We meet our lead Haruo Sakaki who really hates Godzilla and has a theory on how to kill it.
When they arrive on the planet, due to the physics of faster than light travel or something thousands of years have passed and the world is new suited and evolved to closer match its new king, Godzilla. So a group head to the planet including our lead and encounter some of the monsters seemingly birthed from Godzilla in this world now somewhat toxic to them.
Which is kind of the problem? Toho has a MASSIVE catalog of Kaiju and we only see one, who barely shows up, in an animated film which doesn’t have to worry about showing him off compared to human cast. They do give us a new version of Godzilla that is larger than any other and even do a good show of him, but as again we were going to a world thousands of years in the future, and it’s all very underwhelming. You want to see flocks of Rodan, maybe packs of Anguirus. BUT they all died in the prequel novels that people wished had been animated instead.
For the most the cast is rather dull and as the first part in a trilogy, there is zero character development and it’s more about leaving a small teaser to future events – the second film is considered worse. It just seems odd that you have a good premise and great potential yet comes off as one of the duller Godzilla movies. You have mech fights against Godzilla yet doesn’t do enough with them, we would have loved Char leading a team of Zakus to fight the king of the monsters (not exactly what happens but should have been a good idea). You have the idea of bringing the monsters to a natural extreme or evolution of the Kaiju – make Godzilla so massive he’s a living mountain. But it fails to fully utilize the idea (worse happens to mecha Godzilla in the sequel, but they did good with Ghidorah)
The animation however isn’t that bad, Godzilla is well realized especially when you see how big he is, he feels like a living mountain and unstoppable, just a shame that’s only in the last 10 minutes until then (spoilers) you instead have angry boy yelling at a smaller copy of Godzilla or running away from bird like things that should have been Rodan rather than something new (there is prequel material that actually successfully uses even Zilla as a genuine threat). But as mentioned, animation isn’t bad I felt just a shame it wasn’t utilized to forgo what was normally limited in such films.
The film is out on Netflix with the other 2 parts of the trilogy but unless you’re a Godzilla fan I can’t really recommend them, unless you want to burn some time the ability to have mechs fighting an even larger Godzilla should have been better.