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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mothra vs. Godzilla Review

Mothra vs. Godzilla, once known to American audiences as Godzilla vs. The Thing is the fourth Godzilla film, and one of the most fondly remembered of the Showa era. New fans may not be aware that this was a crossover film. Mothra had a film a couple of years before this believe it or not, so this would be her first appearance with Godzilla. Both Mothra and Rodan had their own films before heading into Godzilla's film series. Anyways, it's been maybe about eleven years since I've seen this one. This film takes place right before Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, so Godzilla would play the role of an antagonist. Let's see what this real fan of the franchise has to say.

A mysterious egg has washed up in Japan. Some see it as a great money-making opportunity. Some smart ones believe there's something deeper going on. Their thoughts are right when the Mothra twins, the Cosmos, come and say to release the egg back onto Mothra Island (Later known in the films as Infant Island.) The fools who are holding the egg refuse, and the twins heads back to the Island. However, when Godzilla emerges from the ground, some of the people go to the Island and ask for Mothra's help. Will she help? Let's hope so, otherwise Japan is going to be turned to rubble.

This film surprised me. When I say that, don't think I thought it was going to be bad. Just not this impressive. The film feels "complete." There's a good story, pretty good human characters, and some really great monster action. Definitely one of the higher class of the Showa movies. This being directly before Ghidorah, there are many similarities between the two. The tone, and some of the actors are the same. They're both pretty even, I enjoyed Ghidorah more, but that's mainly cause of the great monster fights and Rodan.

Post DESTROY ALL MONSTERS is when the human characters started to become a bunch of duds. (I'm referring to Vs. Hedorah, Vs. Gigan, and Vs. Megalon.) Like Ghidorah and Monster Zero, great emphasis was placed on the human characters. Thankfully, they are bearable and dare I say it, pretty interesting. You have the all-around good guy news reporter, the female who isn't an average damsel in distress, and two villains. They aren't as good as the ones from Ghidorah, but for human villains in Godzilla film, they aren't bad.

As always of course, we are here for the awesome monsters, and they deliver. At first, it feels like a Mothra movie, but when Godzilla appears, the shift turns completely to him. It's good when a story could shift easily like that. Godzilla doesn't appear until a little after the thirty minute mark, but he makes up for it by having such a dramatic appearance. His rising from the ground still to this day is one awe-inspiring scene. Talking about his look, I really like the suit used. Definitely one of the most evil. In some closeups, his eyes are like white as death. It actually reminds me of his GMK look. His atomic breath looks good, I love when his spikes glow, really adds to the effect. There are some really memorable scenes, like when he appears out of the blue over a hill looking down upon the fleeing humans. Mothra is looking mighty impressive, considering that this movie is over forty years old, the prop holds up really well. Her wings flap with glory, it's just great. The Mothra Larva look pretty good, no complaints there.

The monster fights were surprisingly pretty good and very fast-paced. In fact, the fight with Godzilla and the adult Mothra was very similar to the fights in Godzilla Raids Again. The footage is sped up, or at least it looks that way. It's good stuff and works for this film. The fight between Godzilla and the adult Mothra is climatic, love the scene where she grabs Godzilla's tail and drags him down the ground. The fight is brutal and satisfying. The final fight in the film, Godzilla vs. the larvae, was well choreographed. Love the scene where one of them grabs hold of Godzilla's tail and the ladder's reaction to that. Though is it me, or was the intention was to make Godzilla look more of a joke? I'm using the wrong word, but in one scene Godzilla gets his tail stuck in a structure, then in another, he trips and falls onto the Osaka building. It's like they were purposely portraying him as clumsy or something. I guess it was to prepare us for when he starts to turn good in the next film.

Overall, Mothra vs. Godzilla is a true classic. It has a high-quality feel. It has a good story, good human characters, and satisfying monster destruction/action. The only thing that annoyed me was the dub's calling Mothra "The Thing" all the time. In some scenes, it just sounded plain weird. But that's a minor thing. Mothra vs. Godzilla is a gem, and a proud entry in the franchise. It has real heartfelt drama, and I believe I didn't mention how great the soundtrack is. Akira Ifukube is a music legend in this franchise, and the themes here fit the supremely well. This is also one of the most heartfelt entries of the franchise, the scene where the adult Mothra dies is both dramatic and climatic. The Cosmos do a great job here, being the best of the human (technically not human, humanoid is a better word) characters. Mothra Island is definitely one of the greatest set pieces of the Showa films, having the perfect look and atmosphere, Mothra vs. Godzilla is not to be missed.


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