Director: Takao Okawara
Starring: Satomi Kobayashi, Tetsuya Bessho
Review Author: Tony
Synopsis: When a meteor collides with earth not only does it awaken Godzilla but also unearths two ancient guardians of the planet previously locked in a deadly feud.
Our first foray into the Heisei era, the rebooted series of Godzilla films with a new continuity and 7 films that lasted from 1984 to 1995. The Heisei period remains my favourite due to the improved special effects, more consistent and connected sequels, an awesome gallery of Godzilla villains both old and new, and the overall improved production value that outshines the Showa era and even some of the Millenium series.
Godzilla Vs. Mothra is the 4th film in the Heisei series which saw Toho steering the films away from the science fiction tone of the first 3 movies and reintroduce fan favourite, Mothra, 24 years after her last appearance in 1968’s Destroy All Monsters. What was initially a script for a Mothra standalone film was quickly rewritten and green-lighted after the success of Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah and was rushed into production. Not only was Mothra brough back into the fray, but so were her two companion fairies, The Shobijin, introducing a more fantastical tone to the film with a whole new lore for Mothra’s origins.
While Godzilla films have typically had an environmental message in the past, a trait that has carried over into the Monsterverse, Godzilla Vs. Mothra hits the viewer over the head, constantly reminding us that humans are the greatest threat to earth. It’s certainly not a sentiment I disagree with, but the handling of it here is pretty lackluster. Especially with side characters spouting random monologues which don’t always match the tone or pacing of the scene.
The introduction of Battra is the most creative element of the movie. Battra is essentially the darker version of Mothra. Mothra’s origins are that of a guardian for the earth, sworn to protect it and an ancient civilization that brought about harmony and prosperity. Scientist from this civilization created machines to control the weather and natural order of the planet. This inevitably caused more harm than good, provoking the earth to create Battra as an aggressive alternative to Mothra. Battra became unstable and destroyed the ancient civilization and rampage across earth leading to an apocalyptic battle against Mothra.
Godzilla is a sort of a third wheel in his own film; a wildcard thrown into the mix that almost offsets the Yin and Yang dualism between Mothra and Battra were it not for the awesome three-way battle scenes and Godzilla playing the heel throughout. Godzilla shows up because there’s a decent scrap to be had and he’ll be damned if he doesn’t get to throw a few digs in himself. He ends up becoming such an interfering asshole that both Mothra and Battra settle their millennia spanning feud just to stomp his ass and put him in place in the awesome climatic battle.
Godzilla Vs. Mothra falls into the trap of relying on ‘Beam Battles’ where every character is firing off their own laser beam with little physical fighting. Mothra and Battra both share great monster designs but seem limited by mobility, lending a stiff nature to their flight scenes. Ultimately, I’ve always enjoyed this film due to its kinetic pacing, enjoyable human characters, and fantasy elements. Director Takao Okawara would become a Toho favourite directing future Heisei films, Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla II & Godzilla Vs. Destroyah, as well as the first film in the Millenium era, Godzilla 2000.
Shots of Sake