Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters

When a kaiju attacks Earth and an alien species comes calling with promises of salvation, that’s rarely a good thing. Those aliens have an angle, and said angle is usually the subjugation of Earth. If they take Godzilla and Rodan away to Planet X, it’s because they control Ghidorah, and they plan to have him attack Earth once there are no other kaiju present to challenge him.

That’s the thing that struck me the most about Planet of the Monsters. When Godzilla emerges as the Omega figure boss monster– the final kaiju heralded by his predecessors– two distinct alien species arrive on Earth proclaiming to have what it takes to save humanity. One is a religious cult, worshiping a vaguely defined god and speaking of Godzilla in terms of destiny. The other seems to be the opposite, placing its “faith” in technology and constructing a Mecha-Godzilla as their object of salvation.

Unlike other Godzilla movies, these aliens are victims of similar threats, their respective home worlds consumed centuries ago by forces beyond their control.  Despite the capacity for sympathy with Earth, and despite (assumingly) not being behind Godzilla’s appearance, they still have their anti-humanity agendas in their back pocket. Both species want to inhabit Earth and claim it as their new home world, and before their shared defeat at Godzilla’s hands, they each had contingency plans for humanity’s defeat.

Mecha-Godzilla was created to defeat Godzilla, but it was also created to be turned on humanity as soon as the battle was over. The religious species may be a little more benevolent, in that their plan seems to be the assimilation of humanity into its culture and belief system, stripping humans of what makes it human.

We basically have two interstellar colonial forces descending on Earth to take advantage of a dire situation, only to have their plans thwarted by the true “natives” of the planet. Earth has rejected all other life save for Godzilla.

Other than our innate sympathy for our fellow people, there’s little in this take on Godzilla to have us root for humanity. The older survivors of humanity’s escape from Earth are sacrificed to help preserve resources. The lead character’s passion for confronting Godzilla often more to do with pride at losing Earth than it does the well-being of his comrades. The other human characters are vague sketches at best, defined more by their role in the fight than anything innate to their persona.

At the same time, Godzilla is not a sympathetic force. He isn’t born of nuclear disaster. We don’t see his pain like in Shin Godzilla. And while he destroyed many other kaiju in the past, it’s never framed in any sort of accidentally “benevolent” way. This Godzilla isn’t the one leaping for joy in Invasion of Astro Monster, or even the tranquil protector from the recent American remake who can meet eyes with a lone soldier and have a moment of understanding with a creature below his concern.

There’s no sympathy generated by the movie itself. Whatever concern exists is born out of the audience’s natural biases. It’s all presented in a natural, bestial manner– we’re all animals fighting for survival, and all talk of destiny and vengeance kind of rings hollow.

There’s little difference between kaiju, alien, and human– we’re all destructive forces with our own agendas, and the only thing that matter is how much you can destroy with your atomic breath. That’s just how it is in Godzilla’s world.

It’s definitely Gen Urobuchi’s Godzilla, and I want more. I just wish it wasn’t as ugly on the outside as it is on the inside.

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 )

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