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MOTHRA VS GODZILLA

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Movies Eddie McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
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MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA aka Godzilla vs. The Thing - 1964
Dubbed in English (1964)
Toho
Rated: NR

This is a review of the original Japanese version.

In 1961, a kitschy Kaiju appeared in Japanese theaters and made a splash on U.S. shores as well. It featured a giant moth. Not actually evil, or even bad (like Godzilla, who was still one bad motor scooter at this time). Instead, Mothra was looking for LOVE!

But when you have a giant winged creature who creates hurricane force winds when it flies, even love can hurt.

So a few years later the fan boys at their various teeny comic conventions and newsletters wanted to know: Who was the bigger baddass, GODZILLA or MOTHRA?

Well, I'd put my money on the lizard, but that's just me.

MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA was written by Senichi Sekizawa (FEARFUL ATTACK OF THE FLYING SAUCER, THE GREAT MONSTER BARAN, BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE, DENSO NINGEN, MOTHRA, KING KONG VS. GODZILLA, VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE, ATRAGON, SPACE MONSTER DAGORA, GHIDORAH: THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER, GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO, GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER, SON OF GODZILLA, ALL MONSTERS ATTACK, GODZILLA VS. GIGAN, GODZILLA VS. MEGALON, GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA). As you can see by his somewhat impressive credits, Senichi had a hand in writing nearly every Godzilla movie after MOTHRA. Not necessarily a good thing as Senichi is directly responsible for making the GODZILLA movies progressively sillier. And I say silly and not downright stupid because stupid is a harsher word and, the truth is, I fell in love with Senichi's whacked-out Godzilla movies when I was a kid. As an adult I can watch the original Japanese versions of the first two Godzilla movies and see how cool they were in their own right (and consider what a loss it was that the movies didn't maintain a slightly more mature feel and nature). American money in box office sales made the difference.

Toho saw how the Hollywood butchered movies were doing in the U.S. and altered their movies accordingly. But the Hollywood-ized dumbed down versions of two Godzilla movies only made money because American audiences weren't legally allowed to see how much better the original Japanese versions were (Hollywood actually thought they had to dumb down movies about giant monsters. Was the concept REALLY too far over their heads, too sophisticated, to get a grip on it? Sheesh!). The original Japanese version of GODZILLA wasn't released in the U.S. until 2004. What's more, after over 50 years, no correctly English dubbed Japanese version of GODZILLA exists to this day.

Directed by Ishirô Honda (GODZILLA [1954], BEAST MAN SNOW MAN, RODAN, THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, THE MYSTERIANS, THE H-MAN, THE GREAT MONSTER BARAN, BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE, THE HUMAN VAPOR, MOTHRA, KING GORATH, KONG VS. GODZILLA, VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE, ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE, SPACE MONSTER DAGORA, GHIDORAH: THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD, GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO, ALL MONSTERS ATTACK, YOG: THE SPACE AMOEBA, MECHAGODZILLA VS. GODZILLA) it's easy to see by HIS impressive list of credits that good old Ishirô was Kaiju crazy! No kidding! Not even Stephen King has wrote so many monster books as Ishirô directed and wrote monster movies.

So now that yer somewhat caught up, lemme tell you about this flick.

It begins with a stormy sea at night: Waves, wind, the whole sh-bang. Back at a time when they had to make do with the real and physical because there t'wern't no See Gee Eye in the 1960s. Cool way to start.

Then we get Ishirô's great eye for the moving camera. MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA was the first GODZILLA movie in color and Ishirô wanted to get in as much color as possible - all to great effect.

A reporter named Ichiro Sakai (Akira Takarada: GODZILLA, BEAST MAN SNOW MAN, HALF HUMAN, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD, GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO, GODZILLA VS THE SEA MONSTER, KING KONG ESCAPES, ATRAGON II, GODZILLA VS MOTHRA, GODZILLA: FINAL WARS) comes to an area where a construction project has been damaged by the storm. The Mayor (played for comedy by Kenzo Tabu: KING KONG VS. GODZILLA, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD, GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO), insists that the construction project will go on and that it will be completed on time. He is also angry with Ichiro because the reporter wrote his story on the destruction and devastation, then claimed that the construction project was destroyed, BEFORE he actually went to the scene to see for himself.

"Well," says Ichiro, trying to cover the fact that he invented a story instead of reporting one. "It's true isn't it?" When he is emphatically told "No!" Ichiro sends his photographer, Junko Yakanishi (Yuriko Hoshi: GHIDORAH: THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER, GODZILLA VS MEGAGUIRUS) away to get some photos. Things get tense for Ichiro in the crowd as it appears that he over-embellished his story somewhat, so he leaves to go browbeat his photographer who is taking too long to get her pictures (We need to get outta here!). Her reason is, she has discovered an unusual object among the debris the storm washed ashore and wants to capture it in the best light. Ichiro picks up the silvery multi-hued object, having no idea what it could be.

Godzilla vs. The Thing
The next thing you know, some fishermen have discovered a giant egg floating in the water and headed toward shore. The fishery company claims salvage rights and tows it in. The egg is multi-hued. Hmmm.

Before you know it, the egg is being studied by Professor Muira (Hiroshi Kozumi: GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN, MOTHRA, ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE, ATRAGON, GHIDORAH: THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER, GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA, GODZILLA 1985), who doesn't get to study it long before a very rude businessman comes up and tells him, "Hands off!" The fishery has sold the rights to the egg. The beach has been purchased, and the whole thing will be turned into a tourist attraction.

The fishery and its employees just want to make money to feed themselves - nobody is expecting to get rich. The guy who buys the egg, HE is expecting to get rich. Nothing wrong with getting rich, because everybody IS rich - at least everybody that matters. But the guy hasn't fully paid off the fishery yet and is already claiming the egg as his own. Worse, he borrowed what little he did pay by an unscrupulous OTHER guy who wants to take the egg without paying the full amount for it (that's called foreclosure, kiddies!).

So there is a mix of politics, dishonest reporters (HA! like there is any other kind!), and criminal business men. At this point, all would go well and you can't wait to see everybody get their just desserts by Godzilla.

Then they throw in two teeny women who happen to be fairies, both named Shobijin and played by the twin sisters Emi Ito and Yûmi Ito^ (GHIDORA: THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER) - from Infant Island. Though they are from a backward island and spend their days crying and singing to a giant moth (and, I kid you not, these are the full lyrics to their Mothra song:
Mosula, Oh!
Mosula...
Mosula, Oh!
Mosula...
- yes, they pronounce their "L"s. There is no "R" sound in Japanese. Or "Th" sound for that matter
), they can afford the latest fashions, custom couture no less. That means, for this period, they walk around dressed like a couple of creamy coconut dessert toppings. They want the egg returned to Infant Island, home of Mothra (or Mosula), for it is Mothra's egg. They expect to be taken seriously, that's why they are dressed so ridiculously. Naturally the two dishonest biz guys decide to capture them and show them off as slaves for the show.

Oddly enough, nobody seems worried about what will happen when that egg hatches and whatever is inside it does Mothra-style damage. I mean, what the hell are these short sighted businessmen going to do when the egg hatches and litigation goes through the roof? Where's your 'Capitalist God' now, meow?

The fairies escape and go to beg the reporters for help. The reporters are only marginally better than the Crime Biz Men so the fairies get fed up, hitch a ride on the back of Mothra, grow to full human size WHILE on the back of Mothra, and fly home.

*
TRIVIA
Oh, you must think it's impolitic for me to say "Jap"? What, have Japanese movies stopped referring to Americans as "Yanks"?

^
In their time, Emi and Yûmi were known as the singing group, The Peanuts.

~
Am I going crazy with the credits? Sure, but like Hammer Studios in England, The Toho studios weren't credit crazy with every flick. Lots os stalwarts behind the scenes never got the recognition they deserved.

Besides all of the horror movies I list, these people all worked together on a large number of comedies, dramas, and the like. From one Kaiju movie after the next, going to work at the Toho studios every day to star in this or that movie or other was more like a regular job than trying to get a part in a movie. And this went on for decades! Nice!

The reporters are all torn up about their incompetence. This includes the reporter Jiro Nakamura (Yu Fujiki: GHOST MAN, ATRAGON, THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, TENAMONYA: GHOST JOURNEY, YOG: THE SPACE AMOEBA) whose only comedy relief in the whole picture seems to be walking around while eating an egg so that whenever someone mentions the giant egg, he notices, as if for the first time, that he is eating an egg (Oh those wacky Japs!*). Their editor Arota (Jun Tazaki: GORATH, KING KONG VS GODZILLA, ATRAGON, SPACE MONSTER DAGORA, KAIDAN, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD, GODZILLA VS MONSTER ZERO, THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, GODZILLA VS THE SEA MONSTER, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS) a real Lou Grant type, browbeats the hell out of all of them, tells them that, as reporters they are more important than anything else (Defenders of Free Speech doncha know?), and demands that they go out and risk humiliation and even their lives for the story. He even barks at the professor. Sadly, editors like this no longer exist. These days we only have J. Jonah Jameson types.

Whew! After all of this, its time for Godzilla to come in and stir up the mud. So he does!

The very cool appearance of Godzilla, and the way he makes his entrance, makes the spineless reporters finally run for Infant Island. Not because they got brave, but because Godzilla isn't AT Infant Island. At the island, they get a stern rebuke by the Island Chieftain (Akira Tani: IKIRU, BEAST MAN SNOW MAN, KAIDAN). The sad cookies, I mean the fairies, finally relent after photographer, Junko tells them that murderous bad people kidnappers deserve to live too! (No They Don't! - Feo).

Will the fairies sing to Mothra so that she will battle Godzilla? Will Mothra refuse and leave it up to whatever pops out of that egg to handle Godzilla? Will Godzilla, in his usual fashion, just tear holy hell out of everyone and everything and then return to the sea? Well, since this movie IS called MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA, you know that there will be some kind of Battle Royale. And if we didn't have the Jar Jar Binks of the two fairies, we'd have a much better movie. But for an odd mix of serious social commentary wrapped in a rainbow tortilla of massive monster battles, I give MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA Three Shriek Girls and (for so bad its good), Three Negative Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsNegative Shriek GirlNegative Shriek GirlNegative Shriek Girl
This review copyright 2007 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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