Friday, 28 December 2018

Godzilla: Planet Of The Monsters (2018) - Movie Review has been 22 years (or something closer to 20,000 years, due to the quirks of faster-than-light travel) since humanity left his home. After numerous kaiju attacks ravaged the Earth, and Godzilla finished the job by razing human and monster alike, mankind has had to find a new home. But after years of traversing stars, finding nothing close to a habitable world they can use to start over, the situation is looking grim. Like “we’re running out of resources and have to cull the small population we have” kind of grim. Left with no other choice, they return to Earth to find a world utterly unlike the one they had to escape so long ago. One that the monsters have officially declared their own.

This is essentially a best-of-both-worlds scenario regarding the creative team in charge of this, and indeed the two films that follow. Directors Kōbun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita, best known for their work on the space opera Knights Of Sidonia, bring that same CGI-assisted grandeur to carry the classic Godzilla story into a galactic-level setting. The pseudo cel-shading effect of the texture quality for the characters, vehicles and the imposing monsters against them really makes the visuals pop, giving an moody sense of dread to the coldness of the starship Aratrum and a humbling disquiet to the Earth. It also gives a lot of punch to the action beats, showing how even a technological boost still finds humanity (and the alien species that they have allied with to survive) ill-equipped to fight a god.

I’m using that word specifically, not just because of the obvious nomenclature, but also because Gen Urobuchi’s writing directly makes that point. Taking his knack for tragedy that made Madoka Magica the outright work of genius that it is, he taps into the origins of Japan’s greatest monster in a way that shows understanding of the cerebral threat it poses. More than anything else, Godzilla is an avatar of retribution, an agent of hubris meant to punish humanity for its own arrogance, its belief in its own supremacy. The original famously built on the societal landscape of the time, when humanity was only starting to see the destruction of nuclear power, and here, that is extrapolated to its unfortunately logical conclusion: We lose.

And yet, even in the face of extinction, humanity perseveres… for better or for worse, both represented by lead character Captain Haruo Sakaki. Having seen the destruction of the initial kaiju attacks for himself as a child, he has grown into a bitter and stubborn person. One who knows better than most want to admit about their chances in space, and who holds a sizeable grudge against the monster that put them there. He is the embodiment of mankind’s capacity to adapt and survive, but also their inability to learn from their own hubris. He is willing to lead the charge and take back his home, but doesn’t see that his actions are driven by the same conceit that led them into this corner in the first place. Building on the script’s musings about God and divine retribution, it raises a rather unsettling idea that this situation, regardless of however it turns out, is one that we brought on ourselves. Rather than the giant monsters, we only have ourselves to blame.

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