Tuesday, March 5, 2013

#Godzilla2013 Entry #5: MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA

Directed by: Ishiro Honda
Written by: Shin'ichi Sekizawa
Starrring: Akira Takawada, Yuriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi with Emi Itô and Yûmi Itô
Synopsis: After Godzilla comes back to wreck destroy Japan, a reporter, photographer, and professor must convince Mothra to fight against Godzilla. 

This is the fourth entry in the Godzilla series as a whole and is notable for being the film that introduces  the Godzilla enemy-turned-ally Mothra. Most people will recognize Mothra from just various pop culture references. I know that's what my only exposure to her was. As it stands, MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA(Mosura tai Gojira) is one of my favorite movies so far even if it was a little silly at the beginning.

This movie is notable in being particularly the most allegorical entry in the series since the first film. The movie starts off with one of Mothra's eggs washing up to Japan and being subsequently confiscated by the Happy Corporation in hopes of capitalizing on it. So they do what any self-respecting movie corporate type would do and build a theme park around the egg.

At this point, reporter Ichiro Sakia, photographer Junko Nakanishi, and Professor Miura meet two fairies, the Shobijin, who come from Infant Island, Mothra's native land. They tell the protagonists that they need to plead to the Happy Corporation to return Mothra's egg to the island. If it isn’t returned to the island, the hatchings will cause a lot of destruction. Of course, no one listens until our old friend, Godzilla, comes back.

The storm that brought the Mothra eggs near Japan is the same thing that wakes up Godzilla this time and as usual, he starts wrecking havoc all around Japan. Having to go to Infant Island, to ask for Mothra’s help, the main trio make a passionate plea about how connected all humans are and that refusing to help is just as bad as the nuclear testing that was done on Infant Island that caused it to be the dead mass that it is today.

The island itself looks like a hilariously stereotypical "primitive" island with its tribe and huge bones, but they are interesting in the sense that this is the first time that we see the consequences of nuclear testing in this world. It's interesting that the movie chooses to portray the islanders in a more hostile manner that rivals that of the Happy Corporation. With both of these sides of the conflict representing progress and nature, the real solution is that of compromise which is what the three protagonists present.   Small tangent, but I used to take an environmental economics class back in college. My professor was a proponent of the environment but also of sustainable business practices where there would production of goods could be maintained while keeping the negative impact to the environment to a minimum. As strange as it sounds, this movie really reminded me of that class.

In terms of special effects, I love the fact that they made Mothra look pretty "realistic" within this world. It is understandable for them to look cheesy, but it seems that the special effect artists had learned a lot from the experience of Godzilla and the other monsters. I mean, Mothra looks super creepy with her giant bug arm and those furry wings, but she looks amazing. The fight between Godzilla and Mothra ends up being the real climax of the film, and it's interesting to see Godzilla try to fight against a flying monster, which he has never had to deal with before. He relies a lot more on his fire breath, while Mothra picks up Godzilla by his tail pretty often, causing very unintended comedic moments. I'm actually a little disappointed in seeing how little the effects have progressed in terms of the miniatures. I hate to say it, but every time Godzilla attacks tanks or topples buildings, it still looks as obvious as it did in the original movie. 

I enjoyed the strange and fantastical aspect of the movie. I know this series gets pretty crazy with aliens and outer space, so this feels like a great first step. Even though we have weird twin fairies that were pretty difficult to get into for a while, you accept that, in this world, there are fairies and giant moth creatures, people don't freak out about it, and it makes the movie all the better for it. 

The script ended up being one of the more interesting ones of the series so far. It's amazing what happens when Godzilla is not really the focus but rather serves as a symbol for an issue, in this case he's once again a symbol for the dangers of nuclear testing. If I had one sort of strange complaint, it would be the really silly and goofy looking fight between Mothra's twin larvae that hatch after the Mothra dies from her battle with Godzilla. They're newborns so the fact that you have two worms attacking a gigantic radioactive lizard just looked bizarre. I couldn't take it seriously even with keeping in mind that this is a movie about a giant moth and giant radioactive lizard. 

This is a definitely a great entry into the franchise. It's got a great script, and it's a little more serious in its themes. It's a little more violent film, but it's not so violent that it diminishes some of the more campy and sci-fi aspects of the movie.


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