Not to be confused with the 1964 film Mothra Vs Godzilla, which, in the U.S, was released as Godzilla vs The Thing, but was eventually re-released as Godzilla Vs Mothra before the 1992 film, Godzilla vs Mothra, was released in Japan and so the US title for this film became Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth. Got your head around that? I’ve stuck with the Japanese name although the version I watched before doing this review was the US dub. The Battle for Earth one. Heisei Era Godzilla was my era as a lad and so I had seen this film before. Revisiting has turned out to be quite the treat. Click the link below for my full review.
In Godzilla Vs Mothra a meteor has struck the Earth awakening the slumbering king of the Monsters. This has also caused a number of storms which, in turn have uncovered a giant egg. A young adventurer/thief named Takuya Fujita (Tatsuya Bessho) is employed to go help recover this egg for the Marutomo company with the help of his ex wife Masako Tezuka (Satomi Kobayashi). They discover that the egg will soon hatch so the creature inside, Mothra of course, can do battle with the evil Battra who has also been awoken by the meteor. The Marutomo company have plans to exploit the egg for financial gain, but when it hatches they kidnap Mothra’s protectors, the twin Cosmos girls (Keiko Imamura & Sayaka Osawa), not realising that Mothra will soon come to find them. Eventually Godzilla gets dragged into this because having two giant moth creatures fighting each other wasn’t enough of a draw, despite how awesome it clearly is.
As far as cohesion and characters go this is quite a step up from the previous film, Godzilla Vs King Ghidorah. The story has a logical plot progression and manages to build to a very satisfying final battle. The characters have a little more going on than just the direction of the main monster plot, in that Takuya and Masako have a relationship to a repair along with Takuya’s sense of being a disappointment to his child. They even have a few touching moments as the film moves along despite the relationship between the former couple starting off as pure comedy. We even get Akira Takarada returning to the series in a new role. His presence is always a treat.
The previous film had a number of filmic references running through it, from a sequence with similar queues to Tetsuo: The Iron Man, to a little joke about a private Spielberg being told to keep the appearance of a UFO secret so he has a story to tell his son. Here the film continues this odd element and slight lovefest with Spielberg by having Takuya literally be a Japanese Indiana Jones. An Asiana Jones, if you will. That may have been racist. I can’t tell anymore. Anyway, he first appears raiding a tomb for an artefact that, like all good artefacts is one which bears loads and so the tomb collapses and he makes his daring escape. Well, I say daring. He kinda crawls through a small tunnel as dust and foam bricks fall by him and then runs up a flight of collapsing stairs. At least it wasn’t a giant boulder sequence.
The film does have a slight whiff of cheapness to it, but probably only in a sense that anyone who pays too much attention will notice. That previously mentioned sequence feels a little small scale for what it was trying to be. Some actors were clearly only available for a brief time and so only appear in one location, such as Akira Takarada’s character, Environmental Planning Chief, Jyoji Minamino. This is all likely down to a rushed production, which wasn’t helped by the Godzilla suit going missing for a few weeks during filming. That all said the effects work is often really nice for this type of film. The film’s finale has, easily, the best miniature city set used in a Godzilla film up to this point. The fight itself is genuinely great fun too despite being quite a long battle. The film certainly looks a lot better than Vs King Ghidorah did which would have been thanks to the more real world based setting of the film. Less futuristic sets and props to assemble make a lot of difference.
Battra is quite a cool addition as a monster. You’d probably expect Mothra in darker colours. Or Mothra with a goatee beard. But Battra is actually a unique design in his own right, appearing like a dark corrupted by evil style creature. His larval form looks a lot like something the Power Rangers would fight with its spiked yellow horns and evil glowing red eyes. It’s certainly a more exciting to look at larva than Mothra’s variation on that form. His final flying form is pretty much a demonic butterfly. A lot of his design elements appear to have been an influence on the design of Megaguirus in one of the Millennium era films.
Overall Godzilla Vs Mothra is a really enjoyable and satisfying film. It’s tone is far more consistent than Vs King Ghidorah. Some have complained before about having lighter comedy and darker elements in the same film. This isn’t a fair argument as the lighter moments are in the earlier point of the film and they gradually move away as the stakes get higher. To add to this the family drama element is played with a serious approach which helps act as a middle ground between the light humour and adventure of the start and the chaos and sombre mood the latter half takes on. Akira Ifukube’s score is much more cohesive in bringing the entire film together and is certainly not as scatter shot as in Vs King Ghidorah. Essentially this is a strong film for the series and can be considered quite a step up from the previous two entries. The next film I’ll be covering is Godzilla Vs Mechagodzilla 2!