Review Mothra vs. Godzilla film review by The King of the Monsters
Written By The King of the Monsters on 2014-08-18 14:42:08
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Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), not to be confused with Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), is one of the mostly highly acclaimed films in the Godzilla series. It has a great story, acting, special effects, the complete package. Mothra vs. Godzilla shares many similarities with its predecessor, King Kong vs. Godzilla, but improves upon it, allowing it to establish its own identity as a solid kaiju movie. It may not possess the excitement or campiness of subsequent films, or the dark tone and allegorical meaning of the original, but Mothra vs. Godzilla is not only an excellent kaiju movie, but a very good movie in general.
*SPOILERS* A typhoon has ravaged the coast of Japan, slowing construction of the new Shinozura Happy Center, a theme park being built by businessman Kumayama and financed by Banzo Torahata. A massive colorful egg washes up on shore from the typhoon, and Kumayama immediately claims it as the property of his company. Kumayama and Torahata plan to build their theme park around the egg, with the egg being the main attraction. The Shobijin, two miniature twin fairies, appear to the two businessmen, pleading for them to return the egg, but barely escape when the men try to capture them as well. The Shobijin appeal to newspaper reporter Ichiro Sakai, photographer Junko Nakanishi, and Professor Miura to help them get the egg back, as it is the egg of their goddess, Mothra. The three attempt to convince Kumayama and Torahata to return the egg, but to no avail. The Shobijin thank the three for their help, but return to Infant Island with Mothra empty handed. After studying a radioactive object that Junko discovered near the area where the typhoon hit, Miura returns to the site to investigate. Suddenly, his Geiger counter goes off the charts and Godzilla rises from the ground. Godzilla proceeds to Nagoya, destroying everything in his path while the self-defense forces' attacks prove futile. With no way to stop Godzilla, Miura, Junko, and Sakai travel to Infant Island, hoping to ask for Mothra's help to fight Godzilla. The natives of the island refuse, accusing the civilized world of destroying their island through nuclear tests and stealing Mothra's egg. Junko gives a heartfelt speech to the islanders and the Shobijin, saying that good people as well as evil people are being killed by Godzilla, and that by refusing to help, they are refusing to help their fellow man. Ultimately, it is Mothra herself who agrees to help. The Shobijin state that Mothra is very old and will never return to the island alive once she leaves. Back in Japan, Godzilla nears the construction site of the Happy Center, where Mothra's egg is being held. With Godzilla approaching, Kumayama enters Torahata's hotel room and accuses Torahata of causing him to lose all of his money and attacks him. Before Kumayama can take his money back, Torahata shoots and kills him. Godzilla soon smashes through the hotel, burying Torahata under a pile of rubble. Before Godzilla can reach the egg, Mothra arrives and attacks him. Mothra uses her wings to smack Godzilla and drags him by his tail, but her attacks are no match for the monster. Godzilla burns Mothra's wings with his atomic breath, and the moth goddess falls onto her egg and dies. With his foe beaten, Godzilla leaves to rampage elsewhere. The Shobijin assure Miura, Ichiro, and Junko that Mothra never dies and that new life will emerge from the egg. Meanwhile, the military commences an operation to attempt to electrocute Godzilla using electrified nets. At first, the attack manages to put Godzilla at bay, but the generators begin to overheat. This gives Godzilla the opportunity to incinerate the electrical generators with his atomic breath and continue his rampage. The Infant Islanders and the Shobijin pray for Mothra's egg to hatch, which it finally does, revealing two twin larvae. The larvae follow Godzilla to an island just off the coast of Japan where they attack him. The larvae, despite being outmatched, put up a valiant fight against Godzilla. Eventually, the larvae manage to trap Godzilla in silk, rendering him immobile. Covered in silk, Godzilla tumbles into the ocean, defeated. The Shobijin and the larvae bid farewell to the people, then return to Infant Island to live in peace. *END SPOILERS*
The basic plot of Mothra vs. Godzilla is very similar to King Kong vs. Godzilla. Godzilla appears to ravage Japan, so humans go to an island and bring back the island's god to fight Godzilla. However, Mothra vs. Godzilla is so much more than a rehash pf the previous film. The characters are very well-developed and likable. The conflicts between the human characters and eventually the conflict between Mothra and Godzilla are all solid plot elements. The writing is a major plus, especially the dialogue. The film manages to have a broad scope, and the pacing is almost flawless.
The acting is one of the strongest aspects of the film. Akira Takarada makes his return to the Godzilla series as the serious news reporter Ichiro Sakai. Takarada does a commendable job making his character both serious and very human at the same time. Yuriko Hoshi is great as the kindhearted photographer Junko Nakanishi, giving her character a lighter attitude than her supervisor Sakai, and shows genuine emotion during her powerful speech to the people of Infant Island. Hiroshi Koizumi (Tsukioka in Godzilla Raids Again) is very likable as the wise and helpful Professor Miura, a role he would reprise in the next film, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster. The singing duo "The Peanuts" give the Shobijin a very innocent and benevolent personality, and their singing is very pleasant, even improved since Mothra (1961). Kenji Sahara and Yoshifumi Najima are good as the slimy, corrupt businessmen that steal Mothra's egg for money and later turn on each other because of their greed. Jun Tazaki appears as Sakai and Junko's editor, who despite his strict personality provides some good comic relief and perfectly delivers the powerful line "That is because your words are not powerful enough!" Yu Fujiki serves as comic relief in his role as reporter Jiro Nakamura, and his performance is very funny and a nice foil to his editor. His dialogue with Sakai and his editor is priceless and helps lighten the seriousness of the ongoing crisis.
The special effects in Mothra vs. Godzilla are another strong point of the film. The miniatures are, as always, very well done. The effect of Godzilla's atomic breath is rendered convincingly as are the pyrotechnics in the film. The Godzilla suit is an improvement over the previous suit, but retains some of the better features of it. The dorsal plates are unchanged, but the face is made to look more humanoid. The body of the suit also appears to fit Haruo Nakajima better. The only flaw of the suit is the wobbly jaw, sustained during the scene where Godzila crashes into a pagoda. The adult Mothra puppet is an amazing achievement for its time. It has insect-like bodily proportions, and moves realistically, impressive for such an early kaiju film. The fight scenes between Godzilla and the imago Mothra move quickly and are hard to follow, which is intentional as it gives the battle great energy. The larva puppets also look very good, though it sometimes is obvious that they are moving on wheels.
Akira Ifukube delivers arguably his best score up to this point. Godzilla's theme has finally been perfected for this movie, and it varies from scene to scene from slow and ominous to fast-paced and energetic. Ifukube also improves on Yuji Koseki's "Mothra's Song" and introduces new great songs that the Shobijin sing for Mothra, a standout one being the beautiful and haunting "Sacred Springs".
Mothra vs. Godzilla is a triumph, a movie so great that it inspired Toho to produce a Godzilla film anually for almost every year from 1964 to 1975. Some consider this film to be the best sequel to the original Godzilla in the entire series, and rightfully so. Mothra vs. Godzilla combines drama, action, suspense, and moral struggles in a way few other science fiction films can. The film is also notable for introducing Mothra to the Godzilla series for the first time, as she would go on to become Godzilla's most popular enemy/ally. Mothra vs. Godzilla just barely falls short of the original, but stands tall among the other entries in the series. A truly great movie that I would recommend to anyone, especially fans who are new to the series.