Godzilla: Monster Planet Trilogy *SPOILERS*

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Re: Godzilla: Monster Planet Trilogy *SPOILERS*

Postby GFan » Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:42 pm

I've never been so un-excited for a new Godzilla movie. I hate to say it, but this trilogy has been weak sauce.

Then again, GKOTM comes out this year... and will very likely wipe the anime trilogy from memory.
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Re: Godzilla: Monster Planet Trilogy *SPOILERS*

Postby lhb412 » Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:58 pm

I'm looking forward to it. These movies haven't exactly been my jam, but I think there's a lot of interesting stuff in there and it's a pretty ambitiously different project and I'm interested to see how it ends.
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Re: Godzilla: Monster Planet Trilogy *SPOILERS*

Postby DannyBeane » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:10 pm

I would have loved to have a Godzilla anime... that had godzilla in it... and fough other monsters.
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Re: Godzilla: Monster Planet Trilogy *SPOILERS*

Postby Gwangi » Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:38 pm

This weekend it is. And like many others, I have not been crazy about this series, but I also don't hate it either. Curious to see how it will all end (and I think it is a good bet that those who dislike, will still watch it anyway. We are all curious cats! :mrgreen: )
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Re: Godzilla: Monster Planet Trilogy *SPOILERS*

Postby XvGojira » Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:26 am

I do hope that they attempt an anime again though. Something a bit more traditional perhaps. Or hell take a cue from the Ultra folks and go with kaiju girls.
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Re: Godzilla: Monster Planet Trilogy *SPOILERS*

Postby Rody » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:18 pm

I finally got around to watching the full trilogy last week, and have been mulling over the films as a whole. It's always a little surreal to get a new Godzilla feature, especially in a relatively low-key manner like this (in the States, at least); but frankly I think the films themselves were a bit surreal just to watch. Without a doubt, the anime trilogy looks and feels completely unlike anything else in the franchise, and for the most part I think that's a good thing. As others have mentioned here and in the individual film threads, though, I think the films do themselves a disservice in their presentation of what are often great concepts.

Monster Planet largely felt like a long-winded build-up to the final operation. That isn't to say all of the events on the spaceship and the initial exploration of Earth are unimportant, but I can't help thinking that it could have been condensed - how about a 50-minute feature instead of an hour-and-a-half one?
I did enjoy the final operation, for sure; for the most part, the animation of these films looked better than I anticipated overall. However, it does seem odd that the production team opted for such a static rendition of Godzilla. I get that he's like a living mountain, but he's still alive - at least have him swat at the speeders or something! Even when Godzilla actually is moving, it's very limited and hard to really notice.
The concept of Godzilla influencing the entire environment of Earth was a neat concept; but apart from the Servum's harassment, it's not an idea that seems consistently addressed. If those metallic plants are razor-sharp, shouldn't we be seeing a lot more injuries or minor accidents with soldiers and equipment? It's a fairly well-realized world, between the plants and the atmosphere and Godzilla himself; but it's not executed as well as it could have been, I think. (As an aside, how did they manage to probe, and then land, right next to where TWO Godzillas were? Couldn't they have tried a different spot on the planet first, at least?)
Haruo was a little more nuanced than I expected, as well; he's still very straightforward in his characterization, but I appreciated seeing that he had motive beyond blind revenge for killing Godzilla. Haruo genuinely is concerned for humanity's sake, and he sees Godzilla as the obstacle to survival and redemption. Yuko, on the other hand, felt like an afterthought of a character - another reason I feel like this film (and the next) could have/should have been condensed or better fleshed out, since we get a better grip of Yuko's character in the 2nd film, but maybe not enough, soon enough. The other characters are serviceable; the small conversation between Metphies and Galu-Gu was a nice bit of detail for both races, while also foreshadowing possible future conflicts.
There's also the soundtrack. Takayuki Hattori is one of my least favorite composers for the Godzilla franchise, but here it's for reversed reasons from before. One of my favorite things about the Godzilla franchise is how nearly every film has at least one really memorable music cue, even if it's Ifukube repeating himself to an extent. Hattori's scores for Spacegodzilla and 2000 accomplished this somewhat, but something about the way those scores were orchestrated and recorded undermines them by sounding... I don't know, kind of "flat"? They don't really capture the scope of Godzilla the way Ifukube, Oshima, Rejiro Koroku, etc do. With Monster Planet and the sequels, the situation seems reversed: the instrumentation and orchestration (honestly I don't know if I'm describing this right, I don't know music) sound much improved, but very little of the score stays with me. There are little moments that stand out, and it's largely a pleasant score to listen to (doing that now, in fact) but that's about it (although Godzilla DOES have a motif I'm picking up on better).

City on the Edge of Battle has the same issue with length - honestly they all do, but I actually thought this one had it worst. Then again, maybe I felt the structure was too redundant of the first. There's a lot of buildup, exposition, and some exploring, which all leads to the big, climactic confrontation - just like Monster Planet. It was starting to get a little tedious. I think what makes all the exposition and static shots so egregious is that these films come on the heels of Shin Godzilla, which did an excellent job at making every shot and sequence interesting just by merit of editing and framing. The visual design of the anime films seems like a severe regression in contrast. Characters like Metphies and Belu-Bel also seem to just talk directly at each other - or rather, at the audience through proxies like Haruo, stating all the story's themes ad verbatim rather than letting the story show them somehow better. It's not particularly engaging, and it's probably just bad writing. I was just watching a video about what makes good dialogue the other day (reference), and some of the points which came up struck me as relevant to this trilogy. While I recognize that not everyone (anyone?) can be Hideaki Anno, I do think a lot more effort should have gone into this aspect of filmmaking.
Mechagodzilla is another concept that's really interesting, but suffers in execution. Unlike Godzilla, though, I think this issue ends up being a fundamental one: if Mechagodzilla doesn't look like Godzilla anymore, is there even any point in calling it that name? Mechagodzilla City could have just become the Asuka Fortress or something original. Without the doppelganger aspect, there's nothing really to Mechagodzilla as a "character" besides being a big, super-heavily armed mecha. (As an aside, I also thought the boringly-named Vulture was a missed opportunity to bring back the Garuda)
On the plus side, I appreciated seeing the major themes becoming more prevalent, even if they weren't presented with much subtext or nuance. Haruo starts to confront more angles to his/humanity's mission against Godzilla, and the question of what cost victory will come with was a striking one. "Monsters are by definition unbeatable by humans" - certainly an interesting and seemingly valid angle. The presence of the Houtua, surviving in the midst of Godzilla's environment, also raise potential questions, although none are really addressed in this film (as an aside, I almost laughed out of pity for Mothra - killed in battle again, and not even on-screen this time!). It's another neat take on a classic monster and its lore, and although I felt kind of skeptical about a humanoid species evolving (relatively quickly) from insects, it did offer more context to how all the races look so similar (which was addressed in part here, and in full in the third film). Yuko still suffered from weak characterization - clearly she has a crush on Haruo, but what other motivation does she have, exactly? She lost a grandparent in that ship before, too, but it feels like something was missing there (another aside - I saw people criticizing the tentacle plant scene; honestly I just took it as a reference to the carnivorous plants from Mothra 1961). The Bilsaldo got some more time to shine, though - while their motives remained straightforward, their race's relationship with nanometal and technology was a solid reworking of the black hole alien/Mechagodzilla lore, culminating in Yuko's tragic demise by assimilation (shades of Katsura from Terror of Mechagodzilla?) - which, despite my lack of investment in Yuko as a character, still looked and sounded so horrible that I wouldn't have wished that death on her, or ANY character for that matter. Haruo's final rebellion brings his character new form, but leaves the story hanging with a growing sense of concern. Just what is in store for humanity next?

...The answer comes in The Planet Eater, which I'm tempted to label as simultaneously the best and the worst of the franchise. The final chapter of the story handles some aspects far better then the previous two, while exacerbating other issues even more. Watching The Planet Eater unfold, it occurred to me that this film, and cumulatively the whole trilogy, might be among the darkest Godzilla films in the whole franchise.
...So there's basically one big feature of this installment that overshadows everything else, while ultimately tying into most everything worth addressing: King Ghidorah itself. Ghidorah easily gets the best concept and execution out of all the big 4 kaiju in these films. I'm not lying here - I think this is the scariest Ghidorah has been since 1964, if not even topping that original incarnation. A reality-bending, inter-dimensional "deity" which literally devours planets and their inhabitants?? That's full-blown cosmic horror material there, and it suits the classic destroyer of worlds perfectly. While Ghidorah's own physical appearance is kind of lackluster, showing us only its three spindly long necks with scattered spiky details, the environmental effects do improve the overall image (black holes, golden lightning and swirling storm clouds). Ghidorah's initial emergence and attack on the spaceship was legitimately distressing, and really cemented the tone and stakes of this installment.
There is a catch to this, though - or really, two catches. The first is easy: Ghidorah's concept is actually too effectively realized, which makes for a tedious "battle" with Godzilla, since all Ghidorah does is chew on Godzilla while Godzilla wails and grasps in vain (although deflecting Godzilla's beam was very cool). Even with the nice visuals, some kind of handicap, like Ghidorah having to semi-manifest to feed on Godzilla, would have spiced things up a little better.
The bigger catch is one which I alluded to already: this film is dark. The Exif's ultimate plan, and Ghidorah's role in the cycle, are purely Lovecraftian in design - but although that makes for potentially thrilling story material, actually watching it come to near-fruitition became less than pleasant for me. I don't mind darker stories like this in fiction, or daikaiju stories in particular - Gamera 3 and of course the original Gojira come to mind - but I think, at least for me, there is a narrow threshold in which it actually works right, and The Planet Eater leans just a little too far off the side. Despite Haruo stopping Mephties and saving Earth, humanity is left irreparably decimated, and their entire journey over the past films have been rendered seemingly meaningless. By the end credits, it appears that humanity - not counting the Houtua, who feel largely divorced from the other races in culture and society - has effectively gone extinct. To contrast with my prior two examples, Gojira was similarly dour, but presented a less enormous scope; and Gamera 3 actually takes on a very hopeful note despite the grim odds in the end. The Planet Eater just comes across as very, very depressing.
It was mentioned in another thread that these films seem to take an anti-civilization angle, based on the failures and disasters of humanity in contrast with the peace of the more rudimentary establishment of Houtua society. I'm inclined to agree with that, and it's not an angle I'm entirely comfortable with - especially when Mephties states humanity's "desire for prosperity" will inevitably lead to destruction. Even when acknowledging mankind's propensity for repeating past mistakes, or recognizing mankind's various faults like greed, I feel like the implication here is that humanity shouldn't try to grow at all, and I think that's completely wrong. Mankind's ability to learn and grow is one of our greatest assets, and to condemn that is to say we are better off stagnating. I don't know; there are various ways to read the intent of this movie, I guess, and it feels weird to me in a way I don't really like. It doesn't help that Metphies just goes on and on and on, to the point that sometimes I felt lost in his philosophical ramble. Haruo's rejection, in contrast, seems so straightforward it actually lost me even more. Maybe I just don't have what it takes to comprehend this film????

I digress; that's a long enough ramble of my own, I think. As a whole, I would say the anime trilogy is... Decent. I'd probably rank them in the lower rungs of the franchise, but they're hardly disasters, and I might even be more inclined to revisit them than some of the 90s or 00s films, just on the merit of the concepts and ideas presented, whether I agree with them all or not.
I do hope we get to see more Godzilla anime in the future - but preferably something working more in 2D. We already have a big CG Godzilla with the Legendary films (and Shin Godzilla, if we're completely honest), but we haven't had a traditionally animated, classic-designed Godzilla since, what, the Hanna-Barbera series? I still think that could be very cool.
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