GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA

(aka GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA: BATTLE FOR EARTH)

(1992)
(Japanese Title: Gojira vs. Mosura)
With Tetsuya Bessho, Satomi Kobayashi, Takehiro Murata, Keiko Imamura, Sayaka Osawa (and Kenpachiro Satsuma as Godzilla)
Directed by Takao Okawara
Reviewed by JB

NOTE: I usually attempt to watch a movie series in chronological order.  In the case of GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA: BATTLE FOR EARTH, it was actually the first post-1975 Godzilla film I ever stumbled across, and having now seen several others, I have no reason to change my review.

It's always handy to have one of these     I grew up watching the classic (and not so classic) Japanese Godzilla films of the 50s, 60s and 70s on TV.  If there was a Godzilla movie on TV, I was usually on the floor or on the bed watching it.  Upon entering adulthood (or something close to it) I learned that Toho Studios had rebooted the Godzilla series in the '80s and again in the '90s, but I always figured they were probably not worth checking out.  After all, how could you recapture the sheer goofy fun of the original Godzilla series?  

    I just watched GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA: BATTLE FOR EARTH and, slap my gigantic beak and call me Rodan, it almost complete recaptures the sheer goofy fun I remember as a kid.  We're talking guys in rubber monster suits fighting giant puppets, destroying phony sets and battling model airplanes, helicopters and tanks.  We're talking pretty Japanese gals looking at the camera and saying "Godzilla!" as if we didn't know what monster she was looking at. . We're talking phony looking gigantic moths throwing ferris wheels at their opponents, and dozens of extras running and screaming through the streets.  It was pure goofy fun heaven.

    The only drawback to this film is the Indiana Jones homage at the beginning, where a young archaeologist (our film's nominal hero, although he doesn't do much but stand around and watch like everybody else in the film) runs through several variations of famous Indiana Jones scenes before the main plot begins.  I guess they thought it would a unique way of starting a Godzilla film, but unfortunately they don't even bother to parody Indiana Jones, which might have worked, but instead play it straight, so that if feels less like a homage and more like a ripoff.

    Still, it's a minor complaint, because once the actual story begins - a giant meteor crashes to the ocean, waking up Godzilla and another creature named Batra, and setting Mothra into motion besides - the film takes off into those heady places only Godzilla movies can. Places like a scene where some guys on a large boat decide to get out of dodge when Godzilla and Mothra begin fighting in the ocean right near them, yet they never actually get out of dodge but rather stay right where they are and watch the action.  Or places like a scene where the army expends a hell of a lot of energy trying to destroy Mothra in its larval stage, but when Mothra cocoons itself to a nearby building and is completely vulnerable to attack, they stand around and do nothing for days on end.

    Godzilla is not necessarily good or evil in this film, just cranky.  The guy's asleep in the ocean for a few decades and then all of a sudden, a meteor basically falls on him.  And when he wakes up and starts roaming around, he's got not one but two different giant bugs trying to kill him.  What's a guy to do?  He's not really destroying building and power lines because he's a bad guy - he's causing destruction because he's a 20-story-tall monster with huge feet and an uncontrollable tail.

    If this film is any indication, I think I am going to enjoy these later Godzilla films. 3 - JB.

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