Wednesday, April 4, 2012

REVIEW: Mothra vs. Godzilla

Mothra vs. Godzilla
Director: Ishiro Honda
Year 1964

Mothra vs. Godzilla is yet another Ishiro Honda directed extravaganza, brought to us by the wonderful production company Toho. In this explosive film, we bare witness to two iconic movie monsters as they duke it out in all the visual flare and skilled direction that Japanese filmmaking legend, Ishiro Honda can muster. With a monumental scale and enough explosive moments to shake a stick at, this monster battle is a great addition to the already stellar library of Godzilla entries.

After a violent storm ravages the coast, a gigantic egg washes up on the shore of a small seaside village, prompting a greedy developer to purchase the rights to the egg in order to exploit it for financial gain. Unfortunately for him, the egg belongs to Mothra, a ridiculously large moth, who sends its two miniature-sized, twin female friends to plead with the developer to release the egg back to them. Scoffing at the thought of letting his money-making idea fall to the wayside, he attempts to capture the two pint-sized wonders and exploit them along with the egg, but they escape his greedy grasp. Meanwhile, the same volatile storm that washed up the egg has also awakened Godzilla, and now he is on a rampage destroying everything in sight. With the threat of Godzilla reaching epic proportions, it is up to a small group of do-gooders comprised of a news reporter, a photographer, and a wise professor, to beg for Mothra’s forgiveness and ask him to aid in the fight against the unstoppable Godzilla. Is one giant moth enough or does Mothra have something else in store for this terrible lizard?

The cast of Mothra vs. Godzilla is a real treat, filled with some very familiar actors of some of Toho’s more memorable flicks. Akira Takarada plays the stern but sensible news reporter Ichiro Sakai. Takarada definitely seems like a favorite actor of the Toho Company, because he starred in a great deal of films for the production company over a tremendous span of time, playing a wild array of interesting characters. Some of his outstanding work would be the ultimate classic monster movie Godzilla, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Latitude Zero, King Kong Escapes, and even the nifty AsiaSpy entry Ironfinger. In Mothra vs. Godzilla, he takes on the essential role of Ichiro, who is challenged with the task of convincing Mothra to save the people of Japan from the menacing Godzilla. He plays his character with a sympathetic tone and he conveys the role of stand-up guy to perfection. I always enjoy stumbling onto a film that has him in a substantial capacity, because I know I’m in for a good time.

Yuriko Hoshi takes on the role of news photographer Junko Nakanishi, who has been recently assigned to work under Ichiro Sakai as a photo journalist. Hoshi gives a predictable, but highly enjoyable turn as the innocent young woman who is determined to help out the pair of miniature twins in getting their precious Mothra egg back. Though her role is rather typical and stereotypical to boot, she makes the best of it and gives a great performance alongside her male counterparts.

Another wonderful addition to the cast, and fellow Toho vet, is the brilliant Hiroshi Koizumi as Professor Miura. If you’ve seen one Toho Company production, chances are that you’ve come across one of his works. The man has done so many great films that I dare not list them all down in fear of jumbling up this write-up with a long list of grandiose titles, but I’ll rundown some of his essential performances; Godzilla Raids Again, Mothra, Matango, and Atragon. His character in Mothra vs. Godzilla is a patient one, never getting hot headed and always coming off as the voice of reason. He brings a much needed weight to the trio of good doers, balancing out their trifecta and supporting the role of figurehead for the group. Once again, Hiroshi performs spectacularly in this film, notching another fantastic role under his acting belt.

Now let’s get on to the meat and potatoes of this monster flick and that would be the monsters themselves. Both beasts are prominently featured in this Kaiju entry, giving each character the respect that they deserve without having either one of them overshadowing the other. Mothra looks fantastic as he flies across the screen and Godzilla comes off as a wrecking ball of pain when doing his destruction thing. Each monster is also designed beautifully with Godzilla especially looking quite fierce. There’s a good balance of old school design and practical aesthetics for the Godzilla costume and the updating that has been done to the traditional design gives a subtle and more modernized look for the iconic creature. It’s always nice to see a film production pay their respects to the originators of the character, while at the same time progressing it gently along in order for it to remain fresh and exciting. Each monster looks great and they just shine when appearing on screen.

What is most interesting about both of the characters of Mothra and Godzilla, is that they showcase the good and bad side effects of the Atomic Age. We are shown the devastating effects that the atomic bomb has had on the island where Mothra lives, and we bare witness to the awesome power that Godzilla is able to unleash on the people of Japan because of his effects from the radiation, but it was also nice to see a catalyst to this problem in the good hearted nature of Mothra and his people. They have felt the effects of the atomic bomb and have had their world turned upside down by the wars of the outside world, but they still opt to help our main characters in their time of need, giving hope that mankind can learn from their warring ways and forget the past and move on. It is a lesson that is hidden in the background of the film, behind the monumental battles between Mothra and Godzilla, but it is there for anyone to catch and it is hinted at on a number of occasions by the main characters and like. I’ve always enjoyed the correlation between Japan’s fears of another Atomic Age and the creation of Godzilla to cope with this lingering memory of what already happened to their country and in this entry it is touched upon beautifully. With each entry of the Godzilla series, I come to respect the character more and more and to be able to witness the ever changing evolution of this movie monster in such a quick succession, thanks to coming into the game rather late, is a joy to see unfold. There has never been a more impressive cinematic beast in all of filmmaking and the tradition is kept strong with Mothra vs. Godzilla.

Mothra vs. Godzilla is an outstanding Kaiju entry that brings the knowledge of all prior productions to the forefront in order to make a highly enjoyable monster mash of a film. Each monstrous creature is treated with reverence when it comes to the functionality and overall look of their respected designs. When we see these two creatures go head to head, it is nothing less then spectacular, and in the end that is what we tuned in to see.

The cast also does a great deal of heavy lifting in holding this film up as an entertaining sight. Akira Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi, and Hiroshi Koizumi do a tremendous job with their individual characters and you really can’t ask any more from them then what they brought to the table here. As a late admirer of these types of flicks, I find it an amazing journey to be able to discover all of these great films for the first time and to get the chance to quickly scour through the archives of one of the most expansive franchises the cinema world has ever seen. Mothra vs. Godzilla is a movie that is just plain fun to watch and I’d recommend you check it out for yourself in a heart beat. You really can’t go wrong when these two iconic movie monsters get together and this film solidifies that fact. This is one monster flick that…..

Happy Easter everyone!

You shouldn't have climbed up there if you didn't know how to get down.

The cast tries to wrap their heads around the idea of miniature twins.

Mothra is going to be pissed when he sees this.

So what do you think of my Hitler stache. Pretty sweet huh?

The world's most bland striptease. Take it off!

The cast experiences a cringe-worthy moment.

Take that you piece of crap factory!

Looks like someone was wearing the wrong gang colors in this hood. Drive by!

Are you two going to sing all day or are we going to go kick Godzilla's ass?

Godzilla has the hankering for an oversized omelette.

How come I'm the only one who had to wear this stupid helmet?
I guess you're just special Jimmy. I guess your just special.

Godzilla's on fire! Let that motherfucker burn!

Please, please, please watch our movie.

Who brought the two oversized turds to the party?

Get that shit out of my face!

Check out the twins and their rough and tough posse. Hard as hell!

The cast bids a fond farewell to the movie.

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