Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment Special Edition)
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Overall Rating 65%
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Ranked #4,569
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Connections: Godzilla Mothra

A greedy developer has placed huge machines to suck dry a part of the ocean near Tokyo so he can put luxury condos there. After a storm, a giant egg washes up on the beach nearby and is immediately put on public display. The developer's plans go awry when he disrupts Godzilla's rest and the monster goes stomping through Tokyo again. It's up to the elderly Mothra, and then to its two offspring, to save Tokyo from destruction. --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: September 30, 2007
After the success of King Kong vs. Godzilla, Toho realized they had what looked to be a promising franchise and wasted no time churning out the sequel. Two years later, they put our radioactive friend against another of their kaiju, Mothra, with director Ishiro Honda once again behind the wheel. Following the same protocol as the last entry, Mothra vs. Godzilla also opts to reintroduce Mothra into Godzilla's universe instead of simply fusing the two.

I'm assuming that decision was mostly made to suck up running time as, again following King Kong vs. Godzilla's example, a big chunk of this movie is based on bringing Mothra into the series. Fortunately, they've retooled her origin a bit so watching this is not a total bore. This time, a massive typhoon has unearthed a giant egg on Infant Island and carried it to the shores of Japan. Naturally, this egg is easily seen in the form of yen signs by Kumayama, the president of Happy Enterprises, who wastes no time in buying it from the villagers who found it. He intends to turn the egg and whatever hatches from it into a tourist attraction, much to the disgust of Professor Miura and his journalist friends Sakai and Junko. Kumayama returns to the hotel his crooked financial backer, Mr. Torahata, is staying. While discussing their future financial plans, their conversation is interrupted by foot-tall twin women, who plead with the men for their egg back. The two entrepreneurs respond by trying to catch the two, but are unsuccessful. Realizing asking the men is a futile effort, they instead ask Sakai, Junko and Miura, explaining that the egg is a baby Mothra and will cause an enormous amount of damage if left in Japan. Despite the best efforts of the five, they are unable to change the egg's new owner's minds and the women return to their island in defeat, disgusted with the men's greed and dishonesty. Meanwhile, our heros learn that the typhoon has washed something else ashore as well. Having been buried in the mud by the raging winds and water, Godzilla rises up, ready to cause more destruction after his two year nap. In a state of desperation, the reporters realize that their only chance of stopping him is to swallow their pride and beg the natives of Infant Island to send Mothra to battle Godzilla.

The plotline here is surprisingly solid for one of these movies. Even though they basically threw Mothra and King Kong vs. Godzilla into a blender and hit frappe, it was done in a way that presented a decently original story. Sure, we've seen the asshole business man only out for gain; we've seen naive natives getting shafted by technological advanced nations, yet the simple addition of the egg bit and said nation having to beg the natives for help was just enough to give it its own feet to stand on. Of course, this wouldn't have worked at all if it had to cover the entire film, but considering it only had to make up about a third of the movie's running time it was more than adequate. Besides, people don't watch kaiju eiga for the deep and meaningful story lines anyway. They watch it to watch huge monsters wreck things and beat the shit out of each other and this movie shines in that respect.

Both monsters are in fine form here. Realizing that Godzilla looked a little goofy last time, his head was completely redesigned for the move to color. It's a little flatter and front-faced, which gave the creature an overall more realistic look. Both larva and adult Mothra forms are used here and each one is very nice to look at. Especially the larva model, which once again outdoes its adult form. One of my main complaints with Mothra's original film was how boring the action scenes were due to the fact that there's only so much a bug can do. I went into this fully expecting the final battle to have the same problem, but Honda was able to do so much by adding Godzilla to the mix. In both forms, Mothra was actually able to put up a more entertaining fight than Kong was. Making full use of their unique bodies and abilities, this movie was the real starting point for Mothra's climb to fame.

The actors not wearing monster costumes were all passable in their roles as well. Akira Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi and Hiroshi Koizumi play our heroic threesome with Yoshihumi Tajimi and Kenji Sahara as the villains looking to make a quick buck. And of course, we have Japanese singing sensation "The Peanuts" as our tiny Infant Island natives. As per usual, nothing great is given here, but they all get their jobs done with no complaint from me.

When I was a kid, I remember hating this one. More specifically, I used to think Mothra was "gay" so the movie was guilty by association. Watching it now, I'm finally starting to see just why Mothra is as popular as she is. Ishiro Honda really hit this one out of the park. 8.5/10
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