Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992)

Own it!

review by Scott Hamilton and Chris Holland

See also:

Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Godzilla (1954)

Godzilla (1998)

Godzilla 2000 (1999)

Godzilla (1984)

Godzilla vs Biollante (1989)

Godzilla vs Gigan

Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995)

Godzilla vs Hedora

Godzilla vs King Ghidrah

Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla (1974)

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1993)

Godzilla vs Monster Zero

Godzilla vs Mothra (1964)

Godzilla vs the Sea Monster (1966)

Godzilla's Revenge

King Kong vs. Godzilla

Rebirth of Mothra (Guest Review)

Rodan (1956)

Son of Godzilla (1967)

Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)

War of the Gargantuas

Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992)

Released on US video as
Godzilla and Mothra: Battle for the Earth

Lava LampLava LampLava Lamp

Our rating: three LAVA® motion lamps.

Where can I find a 600-ton can of "Off"?
Like James Bond movies, all Godzilla movies operate on a formula. Godzilla vs Mothra is no different.

The formula works like this: A catastrophic event wakes Godzilla, and then a cast of Japanese character actors stand on the sidelines. They look concerned for a while, and try various inneffectual plans to get rid of Godzilla. Somewhere along the line another monster shows up that has one of two functions in the plot. Either the other monster is a greater threat to the world than Godzilla, and our Japanese character actors help Godzilla destroy it, or the other monster, for whatever reason, happens to want to help humanity repel the threat of the big G.

Not coincidentally, all Godzilla movies end with the cast of of Japanese character actors standing around looking relieved.

Godzilla vs Mothra is one of the better Godzilla movies in that the scenes in which monsters do not appear actually make some sort of sense. And for once, they are acted with some gusto, so that we as viewers can actually come to like the characters on screen, or at least be entertained by them.

In Godzilla vs Mothra, we discover that Godzilla is Planet Earth's environmental whipping boy. He is woken by a metorite that strikes the ocean near Japan. That same metorite also uncovers the egg of Mothra, a huge mystical moth that used to be the protector of an ancient civilization, and it wakes Battra, a huge insectine monster that destroyed that same civilization. Battra, it seems, is manifestation of the Earth's lifeforce, and only appears when dire threats face the planet.

Our heroes are a divorced couple who are sent on a mission to Infant Island by the joint agreement of the Japanese government and a large Japanese corporation. Takuya, a former archaeology professor turned treasure-hunter, has been released from prison by the corporation in exchange for his services in investigating the island. His ex-wife, Masako, works for the corporation and is Takuya's liaison with the company.

Taking a boat out to the island with the corporate toady, Andoh, they discover Mothra's dormant egg and and the last remaining citizens of the ancient civilization, a tiny pair of singing women known collectively as Cosmos. The Cosmos tell our heroes that Battra and Mothra's appearance heralds the Earth's great displeasure with mankind, and that the "life force" of the Earth will soon destroy them through Battra, unless Mothra can defeat Battra. So of course it's back to Japan with Mothra's egg.

Needless to say, the egg hatches before it ever reaches Japan, and a larval Mothra emerges just in time to battle Godzilla, who has come to investigate the convoy of ships escorting Mothra to Japan. Of course Battra shows up as well, and the fun begins. Although it's difficult to tell at first, Godzilla is actually the bad guy in this movie. In a roundabout way, Mothra and Battra make peace long enough to fight their common enemy.

Godzilla squares off with Battra.
The main thing most folks watch Godzilla movies for are the special effects, and this film has a good number of cool-looking death rays, explosions, collapsing buildings, and energy waves. If we had to single out one bad effect, it would be the fact that Battra's legs don't move in his winged form. Godzilla himself never looked better, if you can overlook the suit change midway through the movie (the suit from the previous movie was used -- and pretty much destroyed -- in the ocean sequences in the first half of this film). Overall, though, the special effects for Godzilla vs Mothra are pretty darn good. Mothra even gets a few new abilities in this remake that make him/her/it a bit harder to kill than in previous movies.

As we said previously, the actors in Godzilla vs Mothra are pretty good, relative to other Godzilla films. Takuya is actually a lot of fun to watch, as he progresses from Indiana-Jones-guy to responsible-dad-guy. (Can you spot the secret moral of this film?) Masako really deserves a better film, although her character is a bit drab, and the kid actor for Midori was not annoying, which is a miracle in any film.

The rest of the actors are there to chew scenery. The military officers take off their hats and look concerned, and the grunts ride around in tanks and shoot at whichever monster is close by.

In the end, Mothra flies off into space, where he/she/it prepares for a starring role in a film that was released just last year. Battra is killed, and has yet to be proven popular enough to be ressurected. And Godzilla is (yet again) dropped into the ocean to await the next sequel. As a matter of fact, this is the second time in two movies that Godzilla is dropped in the ocean by a flying monster. Do you think he qualifies for frequent flyer miles?

Review date: 03/08/1997

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