(Japan, 2017, Toho Company, et.al., animated) Years into the future and the human race has been defeated several times by the new ruling force of the planet: “kaijus”. And the ruler of that force is Godzilla, The King of the Monsters. Humanity is in such defeat, plans to leave the planet have been made, and several people have been chosen to look at a new planet to see if it is inhabitable. Realizing it’s not, though, the human race resorts to plan B: to defeat Godzilla and take back their planet. -IMDb
Being shown on Netflix. Dubbed.
When I consider my favorite words in Filmdom, “Godzilla” in the top five (the other four are “Zombie”, “Dinosaur”, “Animated” and “Finetrabber”). In November of 2017, Japan released the first of three Godzilla animes. This premiered on Netflix on January 17th. On the 18th, I had the chance to view it.
Let’s set the scene.
The giant monsters have appeared all over the Earth, the worst of which is Godzilla, who seems to show up everywhere. Even after dropping 150 nuclear bombs on him, he still keeps on destroying the world. An alien race shows up with the solution for Godzilla, but decisions are made too late. The only recourse is to abandon Earth and try to find a new world to inhabit.
After 20 years, the younger generation, led by Haruo, an Army Captain, has begun to assert itself. Haruo witnessed Godzilla destroy the transport carrying his parents as he was evacuating Earth with his Grandfather. Like many a character who loses his parents, he carries a grudge against Godzilla and wants to kill him.
We start with Haruo, sitting in a transport shuttle, somewhere near Saturn, threaten to blow it up. Water and food are severely rationed. Another shuttle is to be sent down to a moon to see if it is habitable. But the shuttle is full of the elderly of the ship, including Haruo’s Grandfather. Needless to say, it is a suicide mission and Haruo and the rest of the inhabitants watch the shuttle bursts into flames.
He gives up.
But, instead of being executed, he has become a symbol to the younger members of the ship. Not just for his impassioned speech about the elderly being sacrificed, but for a plan that he wrote up on how to kill Godzilla. A priest named Metphies, who is part of the ruling council, has leaked this plan to those on the ship.
Pro-Haruo sentiment gives the council little choice and they vote to return to Earth and try to take the planet back.
They have been traveling for twenty years. They decide to push the engines to their limits and warp back to Earth. They calculate that they will come back to Earth about 10,000 years after they left. Upon arrival, they recalculate that Earth has progressed over 19,000 years! They send a team of 600 down to the surface to try to see what is going on.
And has the world changed!
The air is very thick, and they aren’t sure that it is breathable. Plants have taken on the shape of some of the ruins of the planet. Some species, which look like evergreens, are sharp steel and could shred their suits. And then, there’s the flying dragon-like creatures that lay waste to a number of the team.
While the team licks their wounds, there is something that sounds like thunder. But, it is not thunder. It’s giant feet. Even after 19,000 years, Godzilla still exists! He attacks and more are killed. Even so, the plan to kill Godzilla is put in motion.
The plan is simple (?). Apparently, Godzilla can generate a magnetic field that protects him from the weapons of man. The field is generated from an organ near his dorsal fin. The idea is to destroy the organ and then destroy Godzilla.
There are a lot of fight scenes, varied close to the beast shooting, the occasional self-sacrifice, and other action.
After that, well… I’ll leave out the spoilers. I will remind you that this is the first film of a trilogy, so you can figure it out from there.
As Godzilla films go, this one is less about the monster and more about the humans. Haruo would have made a good Batman, as the murder of his parents has given his life new meaning. He really is only interested in revenge. On numerous occasions, he tells Godzilla that he will kill him. Yes, I think we get it.
There is religious intrigue as Metphies seems to be playing several sides. He champions Haruo’s plan. He greets Godzilla as if he is a hero punishing the arrogant. Where his loyalties lie is a mystery. He could be dangerous as he has quite a few followers as well.
The term “Generation Gap”, a term from the 1960s/1970s, is also an issue here. The differences between the younger members of the crew, who grew up on the ship, and the older counsel, who make all the decisions for the ship, are stark. That difference drives much of the plot. The new replacing the old.
The elements of self-sacrifice are frequent. Haruo’s Grandfather tells Haruo that it’s okay, that the elderly on the ill-fated shuttle chose to be there. In order to get readings to locate the organ on Godzilla that generates his protective field, one of Haruo’s detractors (and the leader of the troops), crashes into Godzilla to get the necessary readings.
Overall, it’s not a bad Godzilla film. But it also isn’t a great Godzilla film. There are not enough monsters and too much talking. I will be curious to see how the other two films pan out.
There is extra story after the first part of the credits, so don’t switch to something else too quickly.