As a huge fan of the King of the Monsters, the Netflix Godzilla CGI-animated films have failed to impress me. While I thought the first film, Planet of Monsters, had some promise but ultimately lacking, it’s the second film, City on the Edge of Battle, that really made my blood boil with anger as it was one of the worst Godzilla films, nay, one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. The third film, The Planet Eater, however, held a lot of promise as it looked like we were going to see Godzilla’s archenemy, King Ghidorah!
I always liked King Ghidorah. In fact, I would say that I like The Three-Headed Monster as much as I like Godzilla. So the promise of seeing them duke it out in third film had me stoked! To me, Godzilla: The Planet Eater should’ve been great; a throwdown between The King of Monsters vs. Monster Zero? Sold!
Then the film actually came out on Netflix… and I am so upset! How could they possibly mess it up this bad?
Now, since Godzilla: The Planet Eater has been out for some time, I guess it’s safe to say that the people who wanted to watch it have already seen it and the plot is already out there for everyone to read. So I would guess it’s safe for me to start revealing SPOILERS for the film. Besides, I really have to reveal some details of the film because I really want to be specific with why I dislike this film with a passion. If you don’t want to read any SPOILERS, just know that, as a Godzilla fan or a fan of good movies, you should run as fast as you can away from The Planet Eater much like all those little people running away from Godzilla whenever he attacks Tokyo.
Godzilla: The Planet Eater takes place just after the end of the second film, City on the Edge of Battle. Godzilla has destroyed MechaGodzilla City because of Haruo’s decision to destroy the nanometal link to retain his humanity. The remaining humans and Metphies, an Exif ally, seek refuge with the Houtua, humanoids that have managed to thrive on Earth, despite Godzilla. Metphies and the other Exif on the space ark put their plan into action: bring Ghidorah to Earth to battle Godzilla… but not to kill The King of Monsters. Rather, their goal is to complete their religious rite of destruction and destroy Earth and all its inhabitants.
If that synopsis sounds bonkers, that’s because it is! Basically, the Exif were just biding their time so that the could get enough converts in order to summon Ghidorah to Earth. They were really playing the long game here as they waited decades to execute their plan. Also, their plan hinged on the Earth inhabitants actually returning to Earth and trying to destroy Godzilla and failing! It’s just too far fetched, even for a Godzilla movie. I can buy into aliens from the Black Hole system, time travelers going to the past to create a monster strong enough to destroy Godzilla in the present and even little tiny princess beings who can summon a giant moth by singing. But the Exif’s plan… nope!
Another huge point of contention I have with The Planet Eater is Ghidorah himself. To be fair, I will give some praise to what Toho did with him in this film regarding his abilities and his heads. Instead of just being a bigger, badder kaiju than Godzilla, Ghidorah in The Planet Eater is an extradimensional creature that can break this dimension’s laws of physics. This does lead to my favorite scene in the film, where Ghidorah appears and destroys the orbiting station where the rest of the humans and aliens are. But, thanks to the creature’s time warping powers, the people in the station detect that they been destroyed a full four seconds before it happens! That’s pure genius and makes Ghidorah pretty unstoppable, even for the King of Monsters!
I also really liked how they redesigned Ghidorah’s heads for The Planet Eater. While definitely having a more slender and sleek look than before, Ghidorah’s new heads look more serpent-like and, in all honestly, much more frightening than before. Giving him a mouth that’s more akin to a long beak with teeth looks really good on him! You can really see that they were going for a more alien look and they definitely succeeded. Ghidorah’s necks are also super long and I really liked how they animated the necks and how they move.
“But what about Ghidorah’s body,” you may ask. To that, I have to reply, “what body?” And this is another thing that really pissed me off: they didn’t give Ghidorah a body! They show you a silhouette of what may be his body but you never see it. Instead, all you see are Ghidorah’s serpentine necks coming out of dimensional holes from the sky. That’s it! My body was ready to see what Toho did and my expectations were sky high because I really loved the heads and the necks! It’s so disappointing for a Ghidorah fan like myself! But since you only see the necks, you don’t even need to call the creature Ghidorah anymore. It may as well have been three different interdimensional Mandas attacking Godzilla!
I’ve already railed on Metphies and the entire Exif plan but I have to dive back into it as, while this is a twist that I fully expected to happen (all aliens in Godzilla films are evil), it’s execution is just so bad. It wouldn’t have been so terrible if the entire story and the other plot points were done well. Unfortunately, they didn’t do those any justice, either! The entire pacing just feels extremely slow with the characters not doing anything for the entire first half of the film. There’s just a lot of exposition and setting up for Ghidorah’s summoning and it doesn’t work to keep you engaged in any way. There are a couple of plot points, like Haruo having nigthmares that Metphies killing Miana, one of the Houtua twins, as well as Metphies actually kidnapping Miana and strapping her to an iron maiden-like device. These things serve no purpose at all but to pad the film’s 90-minute runtime.
This wouldn’t be so bad if I were invested in the characters but, after two films, I still didn’t care for any of them! I may have specified that I’m reviewing the Japanese dub, but I don’t think it matters. The actors can act their hearts out but, with a totally awful plot like this, no one’s going to care.
What’s worse, the personalities of the main characters just seem to change without any rhyme or reason. This is especially true for Haruo, the supposed “hero” of the trilogy. He’s supposed to have this intense hatred for Godzilla but, in The Planet Eater, all that anger is replaced with whining and hopelessness. I kind of get the change in attitude. His forces have all been wiped out, after all. But it’s an abrupt change and it doesn’t do anything to change my opinion of him one iota.
But the biggest sin of The Planet Eater for me is that there isn’t any kind of fight between Godzilla, Ghidorah or even the humans! Oh, there is some conflict between Haruo and Metphies but it’s mostly a battle of methaphorical wills. You do see Ghidorah bite and suck out the life force from Godzilla but that’s most of the “battle.” Once Haruo finds a way to make Ghidorah tangible in this dimension by damaging Metphies’ eye or something to that effect (I really didn’t care at this point), Godzilla takes out Ghidorah in around three minutes and that’s it! It originally took the combined forces of Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra to take The Golden King before! But here, Godzilla punches him up a bit and he retreats? Boo!
Godzilla: The Planet Eater had the potential of redeeming the entire animated trilogy if it just had one good kaiju fight with Ghidorah and Godzilla. We couldn’t even get that! I’m incredibly upset as the first film was actually promising but each film in the series just kept getting worse and worse. Maybe it’s because I really wanted a drawn out battle but, once again, we didn’t. This film is a huge stinker and it’s a stinker as big as Ghidorah’s massive turds.
Have you seen Godzilla: The Planet Eater? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!