Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992)

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After King Ghidorah’s return, Toho decided to bring back another classic monster from their sizable stable.  Mothra was an obvious choice, considering the amount of appearances it had in the original series, as well as the popularity of the creature.  Production started quickly and a script was hastily written.  Akira Ifukube was brought back to score the movie, and Takao Okawara, the assistant director for Godzilla 1985, was brought in to direct.  The result was a movie with several elements taken from past movies, but with an interesting cast of human characters at its core.  “Godzilla vs. Mothra” was a smash hit, second only to “Jurassic Park” in ticket sales.

A meteor lands in the ocean, awakening Godzilla and unearthing a large egg on Infant Island.  Meanwhile, explorer (and thief) Takuya Fujita is jailed for stealing an ancient artifact and ruining a burial ground.  He is offered freedom by the representative of the Japanese Prime Minister in exchange for exploring Infant Island to study the effects of the meteor.  Unfortunately, he will have to make the journey with Masako Tezuka, his ex-wife, along with Kenji Ando, the secretary to the Marutomo company, who is financing the trip.  The three explore the island and find the egg, along with two small twins called the Cosmos.  The Cosmos explain that the egg belongs to Mothra, the Earth’s guardian.  In ages past, there was a great civilization that lived on the Earth.  However, this civilization created a machine to control the weather, and offended the Earth.  In retaliation, the Earth created the Black Mothra, called Battra, to destroy this civilization.  Mothra and Battra fought, and Battra was sealed beneath the sea.  However, the meteor released it, and now Mothra is returning to protect humanity.  The president of the Marutomo company wants the egg brought to the mainland to use as an attraction, and arranges for a ship to carry it back.  On the way, Godzilla appears and prepares to attack the egg.  It hatches and Mothra appears to battle Godzilla.  As the two fight, Battra appears and attacks Godzilla.  While the two are fighting, Mothra slips away along with the ship carrying the humans.  Godzilla and Battra fight on the bottom of the ocean, and a fissure opens up and swallows the both of them.  Returning to the mainland, Takuya and Masako discuss their failed marriage in an amiable manner, as well as their daughter.  In the morning, Masako finds that the Cosmos are gone, and so is Kenji.

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Kenji has taken the Cosmos to the Marutomo president, who plans to use them for advertising purposes.  The girls call Mothra for help, and the caterpillar appears in the city, looking for them.  The Prime Ministers office attempts to bargain, but the Marutomo president will not make a deal.  The human protagonists decide to take matters into their own hands, and are joined by Miki Segusa, who is sensing the Cosmos’ psychic cries.  Takuya manages to steal the Cosmos and attempts to sell them, but is chastised by his ex-wife and daughter, who have come looking for him in the midst of Mothra’s rampage.  Mothra is calmed and builds a cocoon.  As this is happening, Miki senses Godzilla has returned, along with Battra, who changes into a flying form.  Mothra emerges from the cocoon and flies off to do battle with Battra over Yokohama.  Battra appears to have the upper hand, but Godzilla appears and fights Battra.  Battra is tossed aside, but Mothra heals it and the two giant moths team up against Godzilla.  Battra is mortally wounded, but manages to help Mothra carry Godzilla out to sea, where Mothra creates a seal that will hold Godzilla for a time.  The Cosmos then reveal that a meteor will strike the Earth in 1999, and Mothra will head out to space to divert it on behalf of Battra.  As Mothra leaves, Takuya and Masako hold hands with their daughter and each other, implying a reconciliation between the two.

“Godzilla vs. Mothra” is not really the best title for this movie.  It should have been called “Mothra vs. Battra (and Godzilla is here, too!)”.  There are times that Godzilla feels like a guest star in his own movie.  Despite the welcome presence of Battra, the monster plot is not the most original, with bits taken liberally from the original “Mothra” as well as “Mothra vs. Godzilla”.  In fact, the center portion of the movie, where Mothra attempts to find the kidnapped Cosmos, is something of a small scale remake of the original “Mothra”.  While the circumstances of the monsters appearing isn’t the most original, the fights are rather spectacular, with a particularly nice underwater battle between Godzilla and Battra.  The human plot is also a redeeming factor.  While the trope of a former couple reconciling their differences by the end has been done before, the human characters are endearing enough that their plight is genuinely interesting.  Kaiju movies tend to be at their best when we are shown the effects these monsters have on the daily lives of average people, and the interaction between Takuya and Masako provides an interesting backdrop to the story of giant creatures run amok.  Akira Ifukube’s score is wonderful to listen to.  The Mothra theme makes a welcome return, and the tune forms the basis of most of the music throughout the movie.  Ifukube would ultimately win a Japanese Academy Award for his score for this movie.  This movie proved to be a hit, and Toho decided to bring back one last classic monster for the next Godzilla outing…

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The title of the American release was changed to “Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth” to avoid confusion with the older movie, which was often retitled as “Godzilla vs. Mothra”.

At the beginning of the movie, the meteor is said to land near the Ogasawara Islands.  In “Destroy All Monsters”, Monsterland is located on one of those islands.

Mothra’s popularity skyrocketed after this movie.  The creature would go on to star in a trilogy of films after Godzilla’s death in 1995.

The scene where Mothra latches onto Godzilla’s tail is a throwback to a similar scene in “Mothra vs. Godzilla”.

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~ by Chris on May 7, 2014.

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