Mothra vs. Godzilla
Cast: Akira Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi, Yu Fujiki, Emi Ito
Director: IshirÃƒÂ´ Honda
SUNY Purchase '05
"I don't compromise my values and I don't compromise my work. I won't give in." -Michael Moore
Mothra vs. Godzilla
Review By: Rocco Passafuime
Mothra vs. Godzilla
In the early 1960's, major Japanese studio Toho created a giant monster boon with the immense success of their giant monster films Mothra and King Kong vs. Godzilla. With both Japanese and Westerners hungry for more giant monster action, Toho's next monster bash would soon over time become the "gold standard"Â for which other dueling monster movies would follow to this day. This film is Mothra vs. Godzilla, now available as part of the Toho Master Collection on DVD.
After a hurricane destroys an industrialization project, a greedy business tycoon named Kumayama (Yoshifumi Tajima), the man behind the project, stumbles upon a giant egg that washes up on shore and decides to compensate his loss by profiting off an exhibition of it. However, he and his business partner Banzo Torahata (Kenji Sahara) are soon visited by a pair of tiny twin women known only as The Fairies (Emi and Yumi Ito of the singing duo The Peanuts).
They claim the egg belongs to the moth-like Mothra and that if it's not returned, the creature will hatch and destroy everything in its way in search for food. The Fairies soon ally themselves with newspaper reporter Ichiro Sakai (Akira Takarada) and photographer Junko Nakanishi (Yuriko Hoshi), but their pleas continue to fall on deaf ears.
Soon enough, a much bigger problem emerges as the hurricane also soon triggers the resurrection of the highly destructive Godzilla and begins attacking Tokyo, with the military unable to destroy him. Sakai and Nakanishi soon travel to Infant Island, which has been decimated due to its being used as a testing site for radioactive weapons. Now, the journalists must plead with the island's tribal natives and The Fairies for Mothra's help in defeating Godzilla.
While King Kong vs. Godzilla used its incredible pairing of iconic monsters of then-rival nations for mostly lighthearted comedic effect, Mothra Vs. Godzilla is a much more serious affair, deriving, recycling, and meshing the two original films' use of symbolic allegory.
While this combining the stories of two such seemingly disparate stories (Mothra being a fantastic satire of capitalistic greed and Godzilla a dark allegory of the atomic age) is a bit unwieldy at times, screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa manages to craft a fun monster battle story while not sacrificing the soberness of human aspect of the story. The monster battles themselves between Mothra, and later, her two offspring, and Godzilla are some of the best ever in a Japanese monster movie. Special effects guru Eiji Tsuberaya is at the peak of his technique and the monsters themselves are designed and battle each other fairly realistically.
The DVD includes both the original Japanese version of the film as well as an English-dubbed International version, rather inexplicably titled Godzilla vs. The Thing. While the often constant reference of Mothra as 'The Thing' is a bit irritating, the American-made English dub, to its credit, is
The Japanese version's picture quality is presented in the 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio, while the International version's is presented in the 1:85:1 ratio, with both versions' sound quality in Dolby Digital Surround 5.1. The DVD is also packed with plenty of special features.
The first is audio commentary by longtime Godzilla historians Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski on the film's English dub version. While their commentary is stiff in delivery, the two constantly provide great information at their disposal about the making of the film, including many archived audio interviews with the people who were involved with the film's American dubbing and distribution.
Also included is a featurette on the life and career of longtime Godzilla film composer Akira Ifukube. It comprises mainly of a montage of photos of Ifukube with informative, if somewhat stilted, narration by Ed Godziszewski.
The featurette ends with a tribute to the composer on text by current Toho CEO and Godzilla executive producer Shogo Tomiyama. Rounding out the special features is a slideshow of the various promotional posters used for the film's releases.
While it comes off on the surface as an unusual mix of two different styles of Japanese giant monster movies, Mothra vs. Godzilla proves to be the best of the numerous Godzilla sequels released in the wake of the original. This is due to overall quality at an all-time high of special effects, as well as a perfect balance of substantive and serious human story and fantastic and entertaining monster battles.
Movie Grade: B+
DVD Features Grade: B
Overall Grade: B+