Sunday, June 23, 2013

Godzilla Entry #20: GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA

GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA (Godzilla tai Mosura, 1992)
Directed by: Takao Okawara
Written by: Kazuki Ohmori
Starring: Tesuya Bessho, Satomi Kobayashi, Takehiro, Keiko Imamura, Sayaka Osawa, Kenpachiro Satsuma, Hurricane Ryu Hariken.
Synopsis: When a group of explorers discover Mothra, it must fight against its counterpart Battra and Godzilla to save Earth. 

Hot off the heels of the recently rebooted King Ghidorah, we have the re-introduction of another classic character in the new continuity, Mothra. In her original appearance within the franchise, Mothra became an instant favorite, and MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA was considered one of the
best movies in the Showa series. This time around, Mothra's appearance is in the series is spotty to say the least. As with any Mothra-related movie, there is an even stronger environmental message, but this time around it's a lot more clumsy than usual, although it does introduce the badass Battra.

The events that started this whole movie is a meteorite that hits earth and revives the dormant Godzilla. At the same time, we have a group of Japanese businessmen working for the Marutomo Corporation, who, along a petty thief, go on to explore an island, which oh-so-coincidentally happens to be Infant Island, which is full of mysterious carvings and artifacts. This particular section was the least favorite due to the obvious and rather terrible copying of the Indiana Jones style of action complete with explorer hats and fragile bridges that crumble under the weight of a feather.

What comes of this sequence is the fact that the Cosmos (the new name for the Shobijin twins, the little fairies that followed Mothra last time and were great expository devices) go on to tell us about the background of both Mothra and Battra, the "evil" counterpart, who were both created to protect the Earth but go about it rather differently. Whereas Mothra has more of a passive and defensive way of fighting and taking care of Earth, Battra long ago actually destroyed a lot of the planet while trying to save it from an arrogant and advanced race that was on Earth.

At the end of this island sequence, we have Mothra's egg being secured by the Muratomo corporation who clearly misunderstand the entire story that the Cosmos. They want to use Mothra in order to make a quick buck, so they ship her egg back to Japan when Godzilla emerges to confront the ship. What follows is one of the most impressive fight scenes yet. To set it up, Godzilla attacks Mothra as she emerges from her egg. In the meanwhile,  Battra comes and joins the battle against Godzilla and Mothra both, culminating with an underwater battle between Battra and Godzilla which looked pretty amazing.

The rest of the movie goes through several rather extensive action scenes and character drama. This time around, the human protagonist Takuya Fujita is probably the least noble of the humans we've had been introduced to so far. He is a thief, and apparently doesn't pay child support. Hearing him and his ex-wife, Masako Fujita, bicker and talk about morality and trying to be a good parent was interesting, but there wasn't nearly enough of it. This bears mentioning, but psychic Miki Saegusa, from the first movie in the series, makes her third appearance, and just like before, she is used for exposition thanks to her physic powers. The worst part of the movie, though, was the rather blunt environmental message. After the Cosmos are abducted by Muratomo Corporation and treated as properly, there are a lot of scenes of characters just talking about the Earth, right, wrong, and ignorant arrogance by a corporate tycoon.

I'm all about taking care of our planet's resources, but man, even I got tired of hearing just how shitty mankind can be to the earth. Keep in mind that I'm watching subtitles, so there the environmental themes might sound a lot more eloquent in Japanese. What is a bit strange is how that obviously Mothra is supposed to be the heroine of this movie but given a a scene where she destroys a whole city in search of the Cosmos makes me wonder about her sometimes. Granted this destroyed city is all Muratomo property, and since they're the "bad guys," it's not that bad?

So Battra might be a better new character design than even Biollante. I'm always a sucker for "evil" version of established characters. Think Slash from the original Ninja Turtles Cartoons. But not only does Battra look so great and evil as a larva, but when he hatches as a full-blown evil moth, he looks amazing. He also makes an entrance like a champ and destroys a whole city like it was no big deal on his way to the first battle with Godzilla. Both Mothra and Battra were created by the earth to protect it. Whereas Mothra is a more passive creature known for her rather defense based moves, Battra attacks with lasers that match Godzilla's atomic breath. They both have the same job to protect the Earth, but go about it very differently. The reason why they were both sealed is due to Battra's destruction of an ancient civilization in order to protect the earth.

The movie's climactic three-way battle is oddly enough set in an amusement park, with Mothra and Battra fighting each other, and Battra very easily overpowering our heroine. Godzilla shows up because he's supposed to and then him and Battra fight. This goes on for a while until the two moth creatures decide to work together against Godzilla. After finally overpowering him, they lift him up to take him out to the sea away from civilization, but during this flight, poor Battra is injured by a bite to the neck and constant atomic breath blasts to the face. With Battra dying mid-flight, him and Godzilla end up in the ocean where Mothra creates a seal that will hopefully contain the big guy. What wigs me out is how the movie ends with the Cosmos telling the protagonists that Battra's original mission was to save earth from an asteroid that will kill us in 1999. Since he is dead, it is now up to Mothra to wait and help the planet when the time comes. That's a bit of a bummer of an ending for such a hippy movie.

So the movie is fun, and there's enough interesting kaiju mythology going on that you will be interested in that. The really blunt message its trying to convey can get a little too heavy, but what's really funny is just how much of the movie works without the main kaiju. If Godzilla did not appear during the movie at all, it would be perfectly fine, if anything it might be a leaner movie for it. At least we got an character like Battra out of it.


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