Revenge of the Most Punchable Face in the Universe!

Godzilla_Anime_2_PosterSo the monthly reviews haven’t exactly been uh, monthly in a while, have they? A solid six months of the hiatus (starting last July) I can pin on getting, struggling with, and moving on from a job that was not a good fit.  The months after that are on me: adjusting to a new job, trying to make time for my people, balancing my other creative endeavors, and wrangling my stupid trash brain all left me without the normal level of chutzpah (and just, you know, time) I need to crank out reviews for your brain and eyeballs.

That stuff’s all true and accurate, but I couldn’t put my finger on why the holdup went on for so long after I worked out the job stuff.  Why have I had blogger’s constipation block? The big reason hadn’t dawned on me until VERY recently: IT’S BECAUSE I’VE BEEN SUBCONSCIOUSLY PUTTING OFF REVIEWING THE SECOND TWO GODZILLA ANIME MOVIES.

I wasn’t exactly crazy about Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, so the prospect of two more full feature films in that world didn’t have me champing at the bit to do more watching and writing.  I’m the one fucking bizarro-world film fan that would rather write about stuff I love than dunk on shit I hate (which to be fair, I don’t hate PotM, just its cruel narcissist protagonist). Big ups then are in order for friend of the blog Ariccio, who Anime_Godzilla_3graciously hosted a stream of Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle and Godzilla: The Planet Eater.  Powering through them both on my own wasn’t something I looked forward to, but knocking ’em out with a bud was a pretty fuckin’ fun afternoon. It also helps that the movies genuinely get progressively better!

Since both sequels were handled by the same creative team as Planet of the Monsters, and since they all collectively tell one big, over-arching story  in the same unique world, I’m rolling my reviews of the two movies into one slightly lighter than normal article. A lot of the behind the scenes/deep dive stuff I normally do was already covered in my PotM review, anyway, so there’s just less junk to ramble about. That said, there’s still plenty of junk to ramble about! Put on your spacesuit, slather yourself in bug-dust, and pray for the second coming of Ghidorah, because we’re finishing this fuckin’ trilogy!

Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle

Before settling on the fairly normal title above, title translations for this flick included Godzilla: The City Mechanized for the Final Battle and the hilariously horny-sounding Godzilla: Battle Mobile Breeding City.

PORKYS3000AD

It made me think of and create this. I regret nothing.

Godzilla: The War for Pound-Town hit Japanese theaters in May of 2018 and teleported onto Netflix that following July. Get a taste for what’s in store with the movie’s (Japanese) trailer:

The sequel picks up shortly after Planet of the Monsters ended: the orbiting mothership Aratrum is unable to make contact with Haruo or any of the other scattered survivors of super-duper Godzilla’s apocalyptic laser-light show.

godzillamonsterplanet

In case you forgot, this Godzilla is a happy muscly stoner grampa that is also a super-shrub made out of metal and is also eleventy-trillion feet tall.  This sure is a movie.

The post-credits stinger of PotM revealed Haruo was rescued by a native woman, Miana.  Miana saved Haruo by treating his wounds with a mysterious powder, and soon after Haruo hooks back up with some of the remaining survivors of his platoon. That doesn’t last though, because they get jumped by Miana’s twin Maina (seriously guys? you might as well have named them Jenny and Jenni) and her hunting party.

Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 11.03.33 PM

It turns into K-Mart-brand Princess Mononoke for a minute.

Maina takes them back to the natives’ underground city. Lazarri and his platoon are there, healed up by the natives (called the Houtua).  The Houtua are sort of benevolent captors–Haruo and co. aren’t prisoners, but they’re not free to do whatever they want, either. We get a glimpse of their underground society, Lazarri hypothesizes that they’re descended from bugs, and we even see Haruo get bitched out by one of his men and Haruo actually doubts himself and his insane actions.

Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 11.05.24 PM

Nice!

The Houtua telepathically grill Haruo and pals–turns out they’re not super psyched about randos nuking the shit out of their home. But then they are cool with it when Haruo explains they were trying to kill swole tree pee-paw.

Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 11.07.44 PM

Do you even lift 20 ton boulders bro?

Which… makes me question their role as the eco-conscious “living with the land” types. After thousands of years, shouldn’t they have learned to live with Godzilla? Maybe even have a symbiotic relationship with him?  Wouldn’t that have been more interesting?Ultimately their anti-Godzilla stance more or less makes sense–they’re basically this world’s version of Mothra-worshipping Infant Islanders, which apparently is a mono-kaiju-stic religion.

Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 11.10.49 PM.png

I wanted to make a joke about them passing out the Mothra version of Chick tracts at Halloween instead of candy, but I couldn’t quite piece it all together.  Plus accusing them of passing out shitty, shrill, hateful religo-comics seems too harsh even as a joke.

Maina and Miana (but no Minya 😢) go on a walkabout with Haruo and pals.  They meet up with Metphies and his squad, and they all promptly get jumped by the weird pterodactyls from the first movie. Like before, they’re essentially bulletproof… but Maina and Miana light ’em the fuck up with arrows.

That’s some hot shit, so Galu-Gu (gabbagoo?!) deduces that the arrowheads must contain some nanometal–the same stuff their failed Mechagodzilla was made out of way back when. Gabbagoo apparently knows (or guesses?) that the nanometal has been growing and replicating itself the last 20,000 years, and would now be more than enough to kill off Godzilla.  “Kill off Godzilla” are Haruo’s three favorite words in the entire universe, so instead of everybody regrouping with the Aratrum like originally planned, they send like two dudes up to tell them to wait while Haruo, Gabbagoo and the rest see if they can fire up good ol’ MechaG.

Aw yeah, Mechagodzilla! one of the coolest, craziest staples of the entire franchise! After seeing how they handled G-man himself, it’ll be super interesting to see what weird new twist they do for MG!…

Haruo and pals are able to track down the nanometal motherlode, a huge empty factory complex that they dub Mechagodzilla City.  The nanometal has mostly been rebuilding and expanding the lab it was created in, waiting for new orders from its Bilusaludo masters. Maina and Miana fully peace out here–they say the nanometal is poisonous, but Gabbagoo and his Bilu-buddies handwave off their concerns.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 12.27.34 AM

It DEFINITELY sounds like we should blindly take their word for it!

Galu-gu and the other Billysalads start working on Mechagodzilla City right away.  The city springs to life with some bitching techno music and Tron light-up architecture. Similar to the plan in the first movie, the idea is to lure Godzilla into the city, then trap and kill him.  Instead of triggering landslides and stuff like before, they’ll hit him with huge nanometal harpoons and have the nanometal itself engulf him to death.  They also upgrade Yuko’s robot (and all the other models of that robot, but they don’t convey that very well) because… I don’t know, the jetbikes aren’t cool enough anymore?  Maybe those all got destroyed?

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 12.31.03 AM.png

I mean it’s helpful and apparently easy to do so whatever I guess!

Haruo and Yuko stroll around the vast and eerily quiet MG City and shoot the shit. Yuko inexplicably declares that she’s hot for Haruo and smewches him.  Haruo’s starting to feel the same sickness that his comrades had started complaining about shortly after entering the city.  “Every woman must want to bonezone the main character” is an eyeroll-inducing anime cliche, but MG City being so sterile and mechanized that it’s subtly inhospitable to human life is a neat idea.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 12.33.05 AM.png

It’s like the jacked-up sci-fi version of how sitting for extended periods and fluorescent lighting are killing us!

Haruo stumbles onto Metphies holed up in a cave just on the edge of MG City.  Metphies is leery of the Billysalads and their Mechagodzilla, ominously hinting that their real goal isn’t just to defeat Godzilla, but to replace him as the monstrous tyrant king of the planet.  Metphies also erotically whispers the name of the creature that destroyed the Exif homeworld into Haruo’s ear.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 12.35.53 AM

“It was the hot dog pizza from Domino’s I MEAN GHIDORAH DEFINITELY GHIDORAH WE DIDN’T ALL GIVE OURSELVES PLANET-WIDE TURBO-DIARRHEA WITH DOMINO’S CRAVEABLE, FLAVOR-BLASTED HOT DOG PIZZA

hdpizz

“I repeat, we got dramatically and coolly killed by King Ghidorah, we did NOT explosively and continuously shit our brains out from eating nothing but Domino’s hot dog-infused pizza pies”

Lending shitloads of credence to Metphies’ clearwater revival warnings about the Billysalads, some of the humans spot Billysalads willingly being absorbed by MG City to boost its might and processing power.  Gabbagoo is just like “u mad bro?” and the Billysalads prove themselves to not be a cross between Klingons and Vulcans like we initially thought, but a cross between Klingons and The Borg.

IGaVQ9K

Pat yourself on the back if you get this.

And even though that’s horrifying… I totally get where they’re coming from? And I’m surprised Haruo isn’t into it. Hasn’t his gameplan always been to destroy Godzilla at ANY cost?  Hasn’t Haruo already shown himself to be SUPER willing to sacrifice hundreds of lives for abstract moral victories? But oh boy if said sacrifice is done knowingly and willingly and happens to involve Capri Sunning into a wall, suddenly it’s a ghoulish, inhuman nightmare?

tenor.gif

Haruo’s just an Alex Mack hater.

ANYWAY Godzilla’s up and at ’em, so it is GAME TIME.  Time to finally see Mechagodzilla kick some ass!  Look at how crazy this new design is!

mechagodzilla-1110998

WHOA! According to the creative team it’s inspired by sea urchins?! It’s super weird, but it also truly feels like an alien machine.  Not my fave look, but a bold re-interpretation that works for this specific story.  Hot diggity shit!

sirmg

wait, wut

I don’t know if this is the best time to dive into it, but I’m gonna.  That weird, wicked MG design never shows up in this movie. It’s not in the next one either.  It’s one thing to have concept art for a character or scene that ends up on the cutting room floor, but Bandai went ahead and made and sold action figures of this dude which strikes me as pretty shitty.  Like, why tease that and then mecha-blue balls everybody?

From IMDB (emphasis mine):

Writer Gen Urobuchi and director Hiroyuki Seshita, both fans of the Godzilla series, toyed with ideas like Mechagodzilla City coming alive at the film’s climax, either turning into a monstrous, 1 km tall robot, or transforming its various components into replicas of Mechagodzilla’s head and attack Godzilla. Co-director Kôbun Shizuno rejected such ideas, as he was never a big fan of monster movies, and wanted to avoid silly-looking monster battles, as per the request of Toho Studios. As a result, Mechagodzilla was never revealed in full in the film, only in promotional material.

Shizuno: it’s a good thing you avoided “silly-looking monster battles” so you could instead focus on the very well-written and not-at-all flat, flavorless and unlikable human characters.  If you hate this stuff why are you directing it?

Toho: In what universe does it make sense to not have monster fights in your monster fights movie???  It’s like if Rocky Balboa was just two hours of him managing his restaurant (actually that sounds delightful, bad example but you know what I mean).

Just to clarify, I’m not mad that Mechagodzilla doesn’t materialize in the form of a dino-shaped super robot.  The living city is a cool and trippy sci-fi idea.  TEASING the dino-shaped super robot was a dick move though, and the motivations behind keeping him out of the movie seem misguided at best.  I think it’s silly for audiences to demand that directors, writers, actors, etc. be “fans” of whatever intellectual property they’re adapting, but they should at least not have obvious disdain for the heart and soul of the source material.

godzilla-1998.jpg

Here’s a random, totally unrelated image for no reason at all.

So instead of that big crazy pointy Mechagodzilla clashing with Godzilla, we get a city shooting at him, plus Yuko, Haruo, and a Billysalad flying around in the suped-up robots peppering him with laser fire.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 12.55.50 AM.png

It was a lot more fun in the last movie when it was a bunch of people on jet-bikes ALSO contending with pterodactyls–it’s almost like having them navigate around Godzilla and Mechagodzilla mid-battle would have upped the stakes in an exciting and satisfying way… but then that would be “silly-looking”!

The three robot pilots slow down Godzilla, but they’re unable to buy the city enough time to fully power up the big-ass harpoons.  Godzilla survives the trap and goes apeshit on MG City. Out of options, Gabbagoo merges with the city… and also commands the robots to absorb their pilots.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 12.59.47 AM.png

Talk about losing yourself in your work!

The Billysalad pilot is like “yes of course,” but Yuko and Haruo freak the fuck out.  It’s some cool Cronenbergian body horror insanity–Haruo manages to shrug it off, but Yuko isn’t as successful.  Decision time–let Mechagodzilla City run wild, killing Godzilla but also engulfing the entire planet in soul-crushing nano-goo? Or let Godzilla destroy MG City, preserving what’s left of humanity, giving Yuko a chance to recover, but ultimately sacrificing their best shot at killing off G-Fresh?

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.02.30 AM

Amazingly, Haruo doesn’t sacrifice all of humanity to kill Godzilla.  This is pointedly faint praise, but he really has gotten less insufferably shitty since the last movie. He’s certainly not likable or relatable in any way, but he’s not a 100% snarling, murderous, irredeemable malignant narcissist like he was in the last movie.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.03.39 AM

Baby steps!

Godzilla fully wrecks shit, burning Mechagodzilla City to the ground, forcing our surviving protagonists to hole up in Metphies’ cave sanctuary.  Yuko is still comatose, and on that dark, uncertain note, the movie ends!

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.05.38 AM.png

Jesus guys, at least Empire Strikes Back ended with a LITTLE bit of wistful hope.

City on the Edge of Battle is not like awesome but it’s a clear improvement over Planet of the Monsters.  Haruo practically verges on tolerable, which is an incredible feat.  I’m glad we got a peek into Houtua society and seeing the (arguably?) dark side of the Bilusaludo was satisfying. Like its predecessor, it gets bogged down and spends too much time on pointless technobabble and diminishing-returns action setpieces.  It also fails to find the humanity in any of the characters, which would go a long way to grounding this kind of story.  Haruo and Yuko’s walk around the MG City is the closest we get, but their limited emotional range and lack of personality keeps it from sticking the landing.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.07.35 AM

It’s impossible to imagine any of these characters joking around or enjoying music or having a favorite food they miss–who is the audience surrogate? Who could anyone ever relate to on anything more than a very superficial level?

Like the first movie, Godzilla: Battle in Bonerville gets by on clever sci-fi concepts (that it doesn’t explore to their fullest potential), evocative and moody aesthetics, and bitchin’ tech: both the fighting machines used in-movie and the CG used to render them and Godzilla dynamically.  The introduction of some light body horror is a welcome and surprising addition, and preps the audience for the big shift into Lovecraftian cosmic horror coming in the next movie. Speaking of which…

Godzilla: The Planet Eater

Sadly Godzilla: The Planet Eater doesn’t have any accidentally-hilarious name translations like City on the Edge of Battle did.

godzillaplaneteater-1280-1547070167512_1280w

Godzilla: The Planet (and Ass) Eater??

Planet Eater landed in Japanese theaters in November of 2018 and zapped onto Netflix the following January. Check out the Japanese trailer!

Planet Eater picks up right where City on the Edge of Battle left off.

dw-mh17-burning-wreckage-0718e

Okay, so maybe not RIGHT where City left off.

We check back in with the Aratrum, where the Bilusaludos aboard are pissed that Haruo let Mechagodzilla City fry.  The in-fighting escalates to the point where some rogue Billysalads shut down the ship’s engine, forcing them to coast on auxillary power for days.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.22.16 AM.png

But things are chill back on Earth, right?

NO, things are SHITTY on Earth. Lazarri informs Haruo that Yuko is brain-dead and the nanometal is the only thing keeping her alive (fucking yikes). Lazarri hypothesizes that the weird dust the Houtua schmeared all over Haruo and other survivors protected them from being absorbed by nanometal–unfortunately the Houtua never glitter-bombed Yuko.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.24.12 AM.png

Making this the first and only time not getting cropdusted is a bad thing.

Our boy Metphies has been busy–dudeman’s built up a sizable human congregation of whatever religion the Exifs are.  He tells Haruo they’re going to summon the Exif god, and he’ll need Haruo’s help.

c4jt321.png

Here comes the biggest groaner of the entire trilogy! Miana runs off with Haruo someplace secluded and explains to him that the Houtua don’t think about life in terms of good and evil, but “winning” and “losing.”  Winning being surviving and reproducing, losing being dying off and going extinct. Sounds pretty bro-y for a bunch of bug-hippies, but sure.  Miana tells Haruo he’s “losing”… so they better get to fucking.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.29.51 AM.png

Because in anime every woman has to want to dick down with the shitty, hateable protagonist

Haruo turns her down! Yay! We narrowly avoided embarrassing, awkward sex in a Godzilla movie!

source.gif

Oh but Maina shows up and they pork instead.

20190429_123353

Eyeroll-inducing anime sex tropes aside, Miana telepathically eavesdrops on Metphies while he schemes with his Exif buddy Endurph (these names!).  So what is Endurph’s game? Why did Metphies kidnap Miana immediately afterward?…  Wait, is the Exif god not a big celestial Jeff Bridges coming to bring everybody sandwiches and super chill vibes???

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.36.39 AM.png

I regret to inform you that the Exif god is not a big celestial Jeff Bridges. It is unclear AT BEST if he brought ANY sandwiches, let alone enough for everybody.

Metphies and Freddurph and the rest of the congregation perform a ritual to summon mother fucking King Ghidorah to come kill Godzilla.  Honestly, like the Billysalad’s plan in the last movie… I kinda get it! This Godzilla is a quadrillion feet tall and made out of plant adamantium (adaplantium?), you’re gonna have to pull out all the stops if you’re really serious about killing this thing.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.38.30 AM.png

Again instead of learning to live WITH him or just moving to South Africa or some shit.

Like this trilogy’s versions of Godzilla and Mechagodzilla, this is a pretty drastic re-imagining of a classic creature.  Unlike their Godzilla and Mechagodzilla, this feels a lot more like a natural extension of what’s previously been established about the character.  He’s still a gold-plated, cataclysmically destructive, godlike presence from deep space, Planet Eater just adjusts the knob away from “comprehendable super-dragon” and points it at “mind-melting eldritch abomination.”

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.40.31 AM.png

It’s a very outside-the-bun take, but at least he’s not a big metal tree or a stationary city 😉

Ghidorah is an untraceable, multi-dimensional entity that snakes out of micro blackholes and fully buttfucks the Aratrum to death.  Finally some space action! Finally some tangible stakes!

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.42.51 AM

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.43.11 AM

There’s a neat little moment where one of the bridge officers notices that their life signs aren’t registering anymore. Ghidorah’s so fucky with time and space that he kills them before they actually perceive it! Nuckin’ futs!

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.43.44 AM

Oh also uh, sorry dudes.

Ghidorah manifests on Earth, eating Metphies’ followers and chomping into Godzilla.  Ghidorah doesn’t even technically exist in our universe, so Godzilla is powerless to fight back.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.46.58 AM.png

Ghidorah curves Godzilla’s atomic blasts like he’s trying out for Wanted.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.48.40 AM

Ghiddy gets in close, chomps into Godzilla, and starts suckin’ his… energy out. ENERGY. Perv.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.50.13 AM

Godzilla’s mighty, meaty mitts pass right through the Ghidster, on account of his whole pan-dimensional, unstuck from time/space/reality thing.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.50.30 AM

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.51.28 AM

So uh, bummer.

It looks dope as shit in stills, and is solid reimagining of this incredibly iconic imagery from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah:il_fullxfull.1038420124_c69yscreen-shot-2017-06-13-at-12-53-54-am

In motion its less “ferocious, animalistic fight to the death” and more “ethereal, metaphysical death hugging.” It suits the narrative and is cool in its own way, it just doesn’t bring the blood ‘n’ thunder like vs. King Ghidorah did. Meanwhile, Lazarri (somehow?!?!) deduces that someone in our reality must be in control of Ghidorah.  Haruo’s like “OH YEAH” and goes to confront Metphies.

Metphies=Mephistopheles, right? Don’t think I didn’t catch that, MOVIE

Haruo finds that Metphies has gone full-on Sam Neill in Event Horizon, which is fucking rad. I knew from the beginning that the Bilusaludo and Exifs had the potential to keep these movies watchable, I just didn’t expect them to do it through techno-body horror and interstellar demonology! I ain’t mad though!

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.01.18 AM.png

I love that shit!

That doo-dad he was fixing in the last movie is some kind of amulet that gives him a link to Ghidorah–for maximum what-the-fuck scariness, he’s jammed it into his eye socket.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.01.49 AM.png

event-horizon-sam-neill

So yeah, BIG Sam Neill in Event Horizon vibes.

Metphies reveals the true nature of the Exif belief system.  They’re basically a nihilistic death cult–Ghidorah DDTing their planet taught them that the universe is finite and that all things are fated to decay and be destroyed.  Before coming to Earth they cruised around offering up whole planets as sacrifices to Ghidorah–Haruo’s spazzy hatred of Godzilla makes him (and I guess by extension all of Earth) an ideal Ghidorah snack.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.08.32 AM.png

They just don’t make Ghidorah-sized garden salsa sun chips. HARVEST CHEDDAR WON’T CUT IT YOU FUCKS

Metphies telepathically sends Haruo to the techno version of the Sunken Place from Get Out and tells him that if he really wants to kill Godzilla, he’s gotta let Ghidorah absorb him to give him the strength to do it. It’s an EXTREMELY tidy parallel to the end of the previous movie that I didn’t catch until I spelled it out for myself just now. Neat!

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.07.40 AM

DLugXpaU8AEcwDn

In the moment I must have been preoccupied with the Get Out homage.

Maina and Lazarri use the Houtua’s god-egg to psychically reach Haruo and free him from Metphies’ mental manipulation.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.12.23 AM

Even 20,000 years in the future, even with Shrubzilla, they manage to tie it back to the A-bomb.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.12.46 AM

And it’s not just brought up to invoke classic Godzilla tropes: it’s a weapon of such insane power and cruelty that it’s a perfect way for Metphies to convince Haruo that humanity deserves to be “cleansed” (exterminated).

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.12.59 AM

It is completely fucking bonkers, but it’s easily one of the coolest and most interesting parts of the entire trilogy.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.14.20 AM

Oh and if for some insane reason there was any doubt in your mind of who’s inside the Houtua’s egg….

Mothra has had some cockamamie, fucking cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs appearances and cameos over the years, but getting dream-revenge for Hiroshima and Nagasaki has got to be the buckwildest. I would rather she, you know, have a more robust role than “dream walk-on”, but I’ll take what I can get.

download.jpeg

Prior to this I’d say Mothra’s weirdest appearance was as the eensy-weensy Fairy Mothra dumping exposition for Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla. Now THERE’S a movie!

While he’s getting Get Out’d, Metphies reveals to Haruo that he orchestrated the Grampasplosion from the first movie!  What a douche!… would be your initial thought, but Metphies (and by his extension the whole bonkers Exif religion) thinks of death as salvation–he was saving all those Grandmas from prolonged suffering.  And I mean, I don’t know… a quick release seems preferable to slowly starving to death in the icy black reaches of deep space.  Plus wasn’t Haruo going to blow up EVERYBODY in protest? Didn’t he sacrifice hundreds of lives Ahab-ing Godzilla? I legitimately can’t tell if this is character development or sloppy writing.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.35.01 AM.png

Haruo suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks. He’s gotten substantially better, but he still bliggity-blows booty-holes.

But Haruo remembers his dead parents, and the little charm they gave him before monsters ransacked the planet. Depending on the version you watch, his flashback-folks tell him his name either means “Hope” or “Spring”, which is hilariously ironic considering what a dour turd he is.  Maybe his parents did it sarcastically? Ill-fitting as it is, it gives him the mental fortitude to shrug off Metphies’ emotional Scanners-ing and break his eye-amulet (eye-mulet? amul-eye-t?). Breaking it severs Metphies’ bond with Ghiddy, trapping him in our dimension, with our physics, with our huge-ass plantzilla. Hell yeah! Time for one final cathartic throwdown! GO NUTS MY MAN

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.51.28 AM

Or just kind of like, shrug him off–

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.42.55 AMScreen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.43.05 AMScreen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.43.52 AM

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.44.32 AM

–and blow up the black holes he came out of.  I mean yeah that works…

Since director Shizuno is behind the wheel of this movie we don’t get a thrilling, climactic monster fight, we just get some half-hearted grappling and three atomic breath-blasts… and that’s it.  Godzilla offing the Ghidster really is an afterthought, with the “real” climax being Haruo powering through Metphies’ psychological torture and breaking his link to the monster.  And since Haruo is a full-blown dookie salad it’s an anticlimactic finale instead of the rousing, human victory it’s intended to be.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.44.40 AM

Oh well!

The movie then spends an extended scene on Haruo mourning and sobbing over Yuko, his lost comrades, the years of wandering and suffering humanity has endured fucking Metphies.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 3.31.32 AMScreen Shot 2019-04-30 at 3.31.48 AM

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 3.32.02 AM

I guess I should be happy he’s expressing something besides “RARR RAR I HATE GODZILLA I LOVE 2 SHOOT GUNZ RAR RARR RAR” but like, Metphies dude?  Really?

I mean I understand being sad you had to kill someone you were close to… but Metphies turned out to be a genocidal nihilist psychopath. Maybe that dark revelation is part of what has Haruo so fucked up?

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 3.32.13 AM

I don’t know. On the other hand it’s always refreshing to see a villain treated like a complicated human being instead of just a vicious, one-dimensional obstacle. Even the biggest shitheads (usually) have somebody that will miss them when they’re gone.

The movie then flashes forward an indeterminate amount of time.  The survivors have integrated into Houtua society, starting new, simpler lives on Earth. Lazarri grabs Haruo and takes him to a remote spot to show off the secret project he’s been working on: it’s the last of the nanometal’d-up robot suits, up and running again thanks to his studies of the nanometal in (the still very braindead) Yuko.  Lazarri excitedly explains that they’ll be able to fully rebuild and improve upon their old high-tech society! Hooray!  Right?

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 3.33.22 AM

Of course not. Cute outfit though.

When Lazarri says this, Haruo remembers Metphies’ ominous last words–that Ghidorah will always be watching him, and that continuing our old ways will bring him back to our world.  He even hears Ghiddy’s iconic cackle echo in his mind.  Shocking Lazarri, Haruo promptly scoops up Yuko, climbs into the robo-suit and suicides it into Godzilla.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 3.34.10 AM

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 3.34.38 AM

Naturally what could have and should have been a pensive, poignant moment is ruined by Haruo foaming at the mouth, ranting and raving and making everything about himself. Haruo Classic to the very end, baby.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 3.35.48 AM

BYE BITCH

With the last vestiges of nanometal and high technology destroyed, Human-Houtua society is safe from being engulfed by nanometal and safe from Ghidorah returning (for a while).  It’s mostly a tidy, adequate resolution… albeit an aggressively bleak one, making it a fitting end for the trilogy.  Nanometal, Ghidorah, and Yuko (yikes, sorry girl!) all get neatly uh, taken care of. Hilariously enough, Godzilla does not. After all of Haruo’s pointless sturm und drang, Godzilla ends the trilogy standing tall while H-bones is six feet under.  Better movies (or just a better protagonist) would have made that resonate more, but I appreciate the attempt.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 3.36.13 AM

We sorta kinda got the Ahab ending I was hoping for!

So that’s Planet Eater! It’s easily the best of the three films, but that’s not that high of a  bar to clear.  Leaning into the cosmic horror of an alien death cult summoning a vastly powerful and unknowable space demon is an exciting turn that makes this the most watchable third of the trilogy.  Toning down or fixing or developing Haruo helps a lot too, though the damage done (mostly in the first movie) is all but impossible to correct completely.

Godzilla-City-On-The-Edge

Looking at the trilogy as one cohesive story, I don’t see why this couldn’t have been one (tightly-packed) movie.  Boil each of the movies down to their biggest plot beats and you have three solid acts instead of three draggy features.  Act I: land on Earth, try to kill Godzilla, fail.  Act II: Meet the Fockers Houtua, boot up Mechagodzilla City, hint at Ghiddy, fail to kill Godzilla again. Act III: Ghiddy gone wild, psychic showdown with Metphies, resolution, fail to kill Godzilla one last time.  Lop off 95% of Haruo’s genocidal psycho rage-angst bullshit, drop the embarrassing non-romances, strip out the inappropriately bleak misery, yank out as much pointless technobabble nonsense as you can, lose the most redundant and repetitive action scenes, jam it all back together and holy shit, now you might have one (1) decent flick!

hqdefault

Or you might have a stew going!

The desperate effort to make the trilogy relentlessly grim and gritty is a huge swing and a miss.  Instead of being a dark and poignant work of thought-provoking science fiction, it’s just a joyless, lifeless slog with occasional flashes of cleverness and excitement.  This is going to sound meaner than I intend it, but: it comes across like fan-fiction written by an edgy fourteen year-old.

tenor

“MY ORIGINAL CHARACTER (DO NOT STEAL) LOVES TO KILL SO MUCH HE KILLED THE ONLY PERSON THAT COULD NEVER BE KILLED………..HIMSELF!!!!!”

Me bitching about human characterization in a Godzilla movie might seem ridiculous:  even the best G-flicks aren’t like, Oscar-bait dramas or heartfelt character studies or poignant indie dramedies.  Meryl Streep don’t show up in fucking Turbosaurus vs. The Cyber-Luchadors and make everybody cry their asses off with some heartbreakingly good monologue about love and loss.  But what the best Godzilla movies do do (heh poop) is build their human heroes out of powerful archetypes: the plucky reporter, the driven scientist, the big-hearted kid, the brave astronaut, the kooky inventor, the ominous mystic, the steely soldier, the loving parent or sibling–if you’ve seen enough of these movies, each archetype I just listed probably reminded you of at least one specific character.  They’re simplified, narrative shorthand, but they instantly engage with your own humanity and help you understand a character, and by extension the story and its world.  This trilogy doesn’t even bother utilizing these potent story-telling cheat codes, leaving the whole thing feeling clinical and inhuman.  Making Godzilla taller, taking out the monster fights, and cramming in more shoot-outs doesn’t fix that.

Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 12.37.36 AM

We spend a ton of time with Haruo, and even he doesn’t fit any of those heroic archetypes.  Unless screamy, psychotic asshole is one that I overlooked? He fails at the steely soldier archetype because he doesn’t give a shit about his comrades, duty, saving civilians, etc.

Speaking of characters, I want to revisit this trilogy’s take on Godzilla for a sec.  I’ve recently started Alan Moore’s iconic run on Swamp Thing, and I gotta say it has really warmed me up to this gentle giant, plant elemental take on G-fresh.  It is possibly the most hamfisted way to deliver environmentalist allegory and a really bizarre and drastic change to everything we know about Godzilla–but I also dig the idea of him reaching a point in the far future where he’s SO powerful and so plugged into the natural world that his infinite fury finally mellows into zen-like inner peace (I mean, dude still gets pissed, but it’s not his default state, and he seems to have a way higher level of control over it).  This Godzilla is immense and elemental in a way that we haven’t really seen before, and it truly feels like he’s a wild king ruling over his untamed dominion. Of course, he’s not really the focus of the trilogy, so ultimately this all ends up in the “clever but under-utilized sci-fi ideas” pile.

Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 1.48.31 AM

He’s weird as fuck (especially the goofy-looking nose-laser) and stuck in three bad movies, but I really grew to like Buff Tree Stoner Grampa Godzilla. Blaze one for Swole Broccoli Pep-pep, because I doubt we’ll ever see him again.

Fans have clamored for a Godzilla anime for years, but I bet this trilogy isn’t what a lot of them had in mind. Reactions range all over the spectrum, but if there’s any kind of general consensus it looks like it roughly lines up with my own impressions: the aesthetics are the high point (particularly the action scenes and the saturated, Fury Road-esque eye-candy color palette), the characters are the low point, and the films get progressively better. They never achieve greatness (they struggle to consistently hit goodness), but I don’t hate them either.  If you’re a hardcore Godzilla fan (maybe with a completionist streak) I’d say they’re worth seeing once (or at least attempting once). They’re not the direction I want the franchise to continue in, but I’m glad Toho has the guts to let different creatives experiment and tinker with their biggest icon. Here’s to more fruitful experimentation in the future.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 3.34.27 AM

5 thoughts on “Revenge of the Most Punchable Face in the Universe!

  1. “Co-director Kôbun Shizuno rejected such ideas, as he was never a big fan of monster movies, and wanted to avoid silly-looking monster battles”

    Kazumi Omori… Ryuhei Kitamura… now this Koban Shinzuno. Why the blue hell does Toho keep hiring directors that hate their movies?!?!

    Your review makes me glad I’m passing the fuck on these three films. I never thought there’d be a time when I actively rejected seeing something Godzilla-related (well, “Godzilla”-related), yet, here we are. I have got to believe that reading your two reviews is far more enjoyment than I’d get if I watched this burning garbage bin.

    And, unless you reviewed Tsuburaya’s “The Bermuda Depths,” I never thought I’d see Carl Weathers on MCTW and yet… here we are.

    “even the best G-flicks aren’t like, Oscar-bait dramas or heartfelt character studies or poignant indie dramedies.”

    Not true. From the very beginning, Godzilla movies won Japanese Oscars all the time. You can read some about it in an upcoming kaiju book I’m editing.

    “This Godzilla is immense and elemental in a way that we haven’t really seen before”

    But in what way, other than a general shape and them calling him “Godzilla,” is he still Godzilla? There have to be more than just one Matt Ferrett out there, but none of them have your backstory and life, so it’s not cool to just accept those other guys as you. Why are we accepting of them pulling the same horseshit with King Ghidorah and Godzilla? I reject them out of hand.

    Godzilla being a sprightly superhero is a “take” on Godzilla. Godzilla being resurrected and used as a tool for revenge is a “take” on Godzilla. This… It’s not a “take” on Godzilla so much as they made a new character and slapped his name onto it.

    • Yeah, saying that the entire series isn’t Oscar-bait is a broad and inaccurate generalization. Shit, Shin Godzilla swept the Japanese Oscars.

      To give this trilogy a little credit, they do mention that this Godzilla was created by nuclear weapons (during the Enola Gay dream sequence), so his backstory is also there too. I guess he… kept mutating and took on plant and metal characteristics? It’s gobbledygook but I more or less get what they were going for. Even as a titanium shrub, his presence and behavior is still more Godzilla-like than say, ’98 Godzilla. I hate to keep dumping on ’98–he just happens to have the dubious honor of being the least Godzilla-like Godzilla for my money. In addition to the name and the silhouette, this Godzilla:

      -Has The Roar™
      -Is impervious to conventional weapons
      -Emits a devastating atomic heat ray
      -Doesn’t run from a fight
      -Fights human military forces and other monsters

      For me, that’s enough boxes checked to overcome the pointless weirdness of him having the same DNA as an aluminum Christmas tree.

      I’m genuinely glad that Toho is so willing to experiment and take risks with Godzilla, but I hope in the future they grab some directors and writers that don’t, you know, hate Godzilla and kaiju movies. I think the reason Toho keep recruiting non-fan creatives is because they’re DESPERATE to get Godzilla more mainstream appeal, and they think that getting somebody outside the monster movie sphere will do that? Somehow?

      You telling me there’s a Carl Weathers/Tsuburaya joint out there? I NEED THAT IN MY LIFE

  2. My thoughts on the trilogy:

    1. Planet of Monsters: Decent start but not big enough punch
    2. City on the Edge of Battle: only good part was the Houtua People. If you want to see anime Godzilla vs anime Mechagodzila, watch this one because it is amazing!

    3. Planet Eater: well we never had a proper sex scene in a godzilla film or any kaiju media i can think of and anime often has two characters of two different genders (or of the same gender, shudders) do IT for no reason. Best part: the scope of Ghidorah is huge and also this: everything that ever happened in this series, from when the aliens first appeared to Planet Eater is all part of Ghidorah’s plan. those gematron devices aren’t just high tech alien computers, they are the devices that the Exif use to hear what Ghidorah wants them the Exif to do. Talk about a complex plan.

    Final thoughts: interesting take on Godzila series and while not what many expected for a godzilla anime, better than none. if anything i’d like a series based on the two books, Planet of Monsters and Project Mechagodzilla.

    The timeline for the anime is broken up into two parts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4geo6O3pLgs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uS8Bcoz4oko&t=908s.

    Be sure to tell me your thoughts; for now, got to finish up college finals, prep for my birthday where i plan on getting my family prepped for KOTM by watching Ghidorah, 3 headed monster (in Japanese) and the other two legendary films.

    until next time!

    • That Godzilla/Mechagodzilla fight looks WILD. That’s awesome that you’re giving your fam a crash-course before King of the Monsters! I’ve recently rewatched Ghidrah, The Three-Headed Monster with friends for the same reason!

      I’d argue that the Exif/Ghidorah stuff in Planet Eater is the best part of the entire trilogy. Taking the “psycho cult worships a god-monster” page out of the HP Lovecraft playbook is a potent idea I’d love to see more kaiju movies play with.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s