Godzilla vs. Mothra Reviews
Final Verdict- Although it has flaws with it's special effects and characters, the movie is still entertaining to watch and is a descent Godzilla movie. If your a Godzilla fan, than you'll like the movie. If your just an average movie goer and want to watch something entertaining, then you'll might be entertained. I give it 3 stars out 5.
One of the virtually inherent questions regarding a film that could nominally be called a remake concerns the balance between old and new. In the case of "Godzilla vs. Mothra" the story borrows from the original, but not heavily. The most prominent similarities include an antagonistic business tycoon and a Mothra egg; every other similarity is superficial. Much of the narrative concerns the exploits of a trio of people and their dealings with the diminutive twins that Mothra guards, who explain that continued anthropogenic damage to the Earth will eventually bring monster inflicted calamities. Of course, several of those monsters appear, leading to some conflict between monster and human and some preaching about conserving the planet. While not terribly innovative as far as the genre is concerned, the story at least moves along at a smooth pace and manages to provide all of the build-up necessary for the inexorable monster battles.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the film is, believe it or not, the humans. The aforementioned trio is comprised of two divorcees and a flunky of the business tycoon, and over the course of the film we actually see the former two demonstrate a dynamic absent from virtually all of the Godzilla films, with some reminiscing of better times and the main character musing over the possibility of turning over a new leaf to improve his family relationships. It is ultimately melodramatic, but quite welcome in context and something that I was disappointed to not see in the 2014 re-imagining.
For most, the critical point is the portrayal of the monsters, an area in which "Godzilla vs. Mothra" mostly finds success. Godzilla remains the imposing force of nature established in the previous 3 films, while Mothra is given a more modern appearance, for lack of a better term. I actually liked the slimier surface of the larva and the recoloring of the adult form. Noteworthy is the contrast in focus between this film and the 1964 one. In the latter, despite the title, the movie was really about Godzilla and the threat that he posed, while in the former there is a clear focus on Mothra, with Godzilla mainly serving as the obligatory threat to overcome. This shift has the benefit of granting Mothra a full story, but also greatly removes the general sense of awe Godzilla brought to the original. In fact, the nuclear menace feels more like an extra in a movie that is supposed to be part of his series, largely due to the absence of any real objective. He appears twice solely because Mothra requires an opponent. Fortunately, the writers were sufficiently prudent to convey that Godzilla remains the most powerful monster in the film, which allows the climax a reasonable sense of challenge as Mothra and Battra team up against him.
Yet, despite the apparent uneven integration into the plot for the combatants, the monster battles remain quite impressive and varied. Unlike the first three movies of the pertinent series, the monsters clash on land, in the sea and in the air, a variety bolstered by the fact that two of the monsters change form over the course of the story. I particularly liked the tussle between Godzilla and the Battra larva underwater, which probably amounts to the second best underwater fight in the series. The action sequences also boast a wide array of neat looking beam weapons, enabling for some of the best shots, including one where the central characters watch from a balcony as Mothra, Battra and Godzilla fire at each other in succession. Godzilla's heat ray has a noticeably higher pitch this time around, very similar to the sound effect for Destoroyah's micro-oxygen spray that would appear 3 years down the line. I liked this change as it complements the blue color.
With the recent re-imagining of Godzilla, as well as the production of such ventures as "Pacific Rim", the door is wide open for the reintroduction of some of Toho's other famous properties. I'm not entirely sure if that is the best route to take, as Mothra has appeared in all 3 of the series' timelines, including a film trilogy that starred another member of the species. Personally, I think more effort should be devoted to creating new monsters, which is a strategy that worked quite well for the 90's Gamera series. Even so, there are elements from this film that are worth incorporating into future ones, and by extension those working on the planned Legendary Pictures movies would do well to take a bit more inspiration from the rest of the series, perhaps to restore some lost opportunities.
This film continues the trend of the second era of Godzilla movies with a slew of interesting monsters and some good sequences of combat. Featured prominently are Mothra and Battra in both larval and adult moth forms as well as Godzilla. This gives us multiple battles scenes, no two of which are alike: we have larval Mothra vs. Godzilla, an all-out melee between larval Mothra, Battra and Godzilla, then just larva Battra and Godzilla. Afterwards, Mothra is forced to confront the people of Japan (So it basically goes on a rampage) when the Cosmos are kidnapped by greedy industrialists. After a reunion, Mothra transforms into its adult form and faces off with an adult Battra. Finally, we have the two rivals teaming up against Godzilla in a pretty epic battle set on the edge of Tokyo city. On top of all this we've also got Battra and Godzilla being attacked by tanks, bombers and jets on separate occasions, it's a real buffet of Kaiju action and special effects. Basically everything that worked in Mothra and Godzilla's first confrontation is here, but the climax is amped up by having the underdogs be two adult moth monsters. Mothra gets a slew of new, special-effects driven powers that are interesting additions and make it a more credible counter to Godzilla, who has been powered up in the previous film. A more obvious addition, and what makes this film more than just a simple remake of a previous film is the new character Battra. This creature looks like a demonic insect, a great contrast to the fuzzy, friendly-looking Mothra. On top of having many flashy powers, it has a great look, one that's very memorable. It's a monster that's only appeared once in the entire franchise but really made its mark. I wish they would bring back at some point because the scenes of aerial combat are a lot of fun to see. It's true that like all Godzilla movies, the flying sequences are hindered by the odd shot where the strings are obvious (Something that might not have been noticeable on VHS but is pretty glaring on Dvd) but if you're this far into the franchise, it's more of an annoyance than a deal breaker.
Adding to the positive elements in this film is the human story, which is actually pretty compelling on its own and ties in nicely with the monster action. We've got the Cosmos tying the human world with Mothra's and some nice tension when they are kidnapped. It's worked in the past and does again here, but what we haven't been exposed to in any other Godzilla film is the main human story about a thief trying to redeem himself in the eyes of his ex-wife and to himself. Without spoiling anything, Takuya turns out to be a character that is actually pretty complex and drives the action in interesting directions more than once. Not to be outdone, Masako is also an interesting character to follow. I found the acting from both Tetsuya Bessho and Satomi Kobayashi to be pretty good. These two actually feel like they used to be lovers because they have some real chemistry going on. Even the people involved with the big company that steals the Cosmos fairies turn out to be more than just mustache-twirling villains so when the monsters aren't on screen you will still be entertained. It makes for a giant monster that's genuinely good, and not only if you're a fan of the Godzilla franchise, or of kaiju films either. This is a great example of one of the "classic" Godzilla movies you would show to the uninitiated to get them to join in with your movie marathon.
We've got great scenes of destruction. We're treated to inventive sequences of combat (including a memorable moment where Battra gets a real leg-up on Godzilla). There are likeable human characters and fan favorite elements brought back with enough of a twist to make them feel original again. The only real negative thing I have to say about the film is that some of the special effects aren't as good as they could have been (particularly considering that at this point in time, computer effects, which could have cleaned up some of the seams were available to Toho). Nonetheless, this is what you wish every Godzilla movie could be so make sure you check it out. (Fullscreen version on Dvd, May 10, 2014)
I liked the battle of Godzilla and Battra in the sea, that was huge fun spectacle, but the final battle feels stale. It's because both Mothra and Battra don't have much movement. They stay in the same position and throw things, and that's pretty much it. These things can't hold against a moving and living Godzilla. These problems also happened in Mothra vs Godzilla from the Showa era in the 60's. Mothra isn't the monster for fighting, at least not against a monster like Godzilla. Mothra just isn't my kind of monster; it takes some charm away because they have to put some ridiculous stuff, even for Godzilla standards. I felt Godzilla was just a supporting role here, the movie is mostly centered in Mothra, and seeing how I think it isn't a great monster, then I was, for the most part, indifferent to the movie. It's not awful, but Mothra can't hold a Godzilla movie.
This is a middling entry in the series. It gets some spots right, but the overall outcome is unsatisfying. I wonder where the effort of Godzilla vs Biollante was left; probably in the cutting room. I hope the next one is better, or else this will mark the second time Godzilla falls into years of depressingly decaying movies.