Godzilla vs Mothra (1964)
The film opens during a big storm that washes an even bigger egg on shore in Japan. So what happens when an egg the size of an ocean liner washes ashore? The local fisherman sell it to a huge company (which we will call ConHugeCo, because we can't remember the real name). ConHugeCo then puts the egg on display, two bits a gander. This may be the most realistic thing ever to happen in a Godzilla movie.
But darn it all, it's never that simple. No sooner has ConHugeCo got the egg than two miniature fairy women (who represent the "powers of goodness and light," or so they say) appeal to the company's officers to return the egg to Infant Island. The egg is the progeny of the god of Infant Island, the giant insect Mothra, last seen in 1961's Mothra.
This brings us to one of the weirder aspects of this film that needs to be explained. When the film was released in the US theaters, AIP designed an ad campaign whereby Godzilla's adversary was only known as the Thing. In the posters for the movie, Godzilla appeared along with big question mark that obscured some sort of tentacled creature, and the title was changed to Godzilla vs the Thing. So in the movie itself, Mothra is almost always referred to as the Thing in the dubbing, though there are a couple of times when the name "Mothra" does slip through.
...and is counterattacked by Mothra, come from Infant Island to defend the fruit of her loins. Assuming insects have loins. In any case, the battle results in the death of the adult Mothra, but luckily for Japan, there are a couple of spare Mothras in reserve.
In Godzilla vs Mothra, Godzilla is back to being a completely destructive creature. He destroys buildings in copious numbers, without the elements of slapstick humor that started to show up in King Kong vs Godzilla. It's Godzilla, and he's evil, just the way we like him. Just to put icing on the cake, the special effects are excellent. Other than one or two shots of awkward looking hand puppets subbing for the monster suits, the monsters look realistic and the fight coordinators came up with novel ways for a giant fire-breathing lizard to combat a giant moth.
A large portion of the film is devoted to the various methods the Japanese military leaders employ to try to take care of their giant lizard problem. Most of them involve electricity. This is of course the third time in four movies that electricity has been used against the big G. In Godzilla, it didn't work at all. In King Kong vs Godzilla, it worked completely. In this film, it only sort of works. But it looks cool this time around, and that's what's really counts.
After Godzilla vs Mothra, the Godzilla series would never produce a movie as quite as good as this one. Godzilla vs Mothra also marks the last time until Godzilla 85 that Godzilla would be portrayed as an unredeemable threat to the human race. The only thing that keeps it from being on the same level as the original Godzilla is that Godzilla vs Mothra doesn't have any kind of social relevance -- unless it is relevant to your society that you should be nice to little farie people because some day you may need the help of a giant moth.
Review date: 5/8/98
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