Tuesday, May 6, 2014

GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA (1992): 30 Days of Godzilla

DAY 20

Battle for Earth (1992)

One of Toho's most popular monsters, Mothra, gets a modern update and an upgrade to her mythology with the introduction of her destructive counterpart Battra. It's a three-way monster battle for the fate of the planet in Godzilla vs. Mothra.

The Earth is on the verge of disaster but not from giant atomic monsters. As a result of human mismanagement and abuse of the Earth's resources, the Earth just needs one little push to fall into environmental disaster. That push comes in the form of a meteor that crashes into the Ogasawara Trench and sets off a series of natural disasters such as typhoons and volcanic eruptions. It also awakens Godzilla who happens to be resting in the Ogasawara Trench after the events of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah mutated him from a 80 foot monster into a 100 foot reptile of radioactive rage.

For a cold-blooded monster, Godzilla can get really hot under the collar.
Meanwhile, the typhoons have unearthed a strange, large object on Infant Island in Indonesia. The Japanese government and the unscrupulous Marutomo Company attempt to recruit fortune-hunter/thief Takuya Fujita (Tetsuya Bessho) to lead a team comprised of his ex wife Masako (Satomi Kobayashi) and company man Kenji Andoh (Takehiro Murata) to remove the strange object so the Japanese government and the Marutomo Company can continue to exploit the virgin lands of Infant Island. As it turns out, however, the object is actually Mothra's egg. And she is not alone.

Easter Egg hunts with Godzilla were always epic
Takuya, Masako, and Kenji are visited by the Cosmos, a pair of magical 12-inch sisters who speak as Mothra's messenger. She explains that 12 thousand years ago when the world was put out of balance by an ancient civilization that had developed a way to control the weather, the Earth sent Mothra and the Mothra-like creature Battra to destroy the device and restore balance to the Earth. However, unlike the benevolent Mothra who protects humanity, Battra went too far and destroyed the entire civilization. Mothra had to intervene and put Battra to rest deep below the ocean. Now, with the world once again so screwed up and Godzilla -- the walking manifestation of humanity's abuse of the environment -- on the loose, Mothra and Battra will rise again. Battra, however, will be looking to wipe the blight of humanity off the Earth once and for all.

"Helen! Get out the bug zapper! Helen!"
With beautiful sequences, such as when Mothra emerges from her cocoon in her final form, and inventive set pieces such as the final battle in the amusement park, Godzilla vs. Mothra is a visually impressive monster movie in the style of the previous year's Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. When Motha and Battra join forces to take on the King of the Monsters, it's a true high-point in Toho's monster special effects of the 1990s.

The Most Monstrous Place on Earth
Unfortunately, there hasn't been a Godzilla film this environmentally preachy since Godzilla vs. Hedorah. Between every action scene, there are awkward sequences with hand-wringing scientists delivering ham-fisted environmental moralizing. It's all a bit much and tonally incongruous with the film's decidedly kid-oriented themes. The other plot concerning Takuya's theft of the of the Cosmos feels more like filler than an integral part of the story.


Godzilla vs. Mothra was directed by Takao Okawara with a score by Akira Ifukube. It was released in Japan on December 12, 1992 and became the most commercially profitable Godzilla film of all time, coming close to beating Jurassic Park at the Japanese box office. Toho even spun this new version of Mothra off into three all-new kid's movies: the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy. With a winning formula on their hands, Toho also went back to work reinventing even more of its classic characters for the following year's GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA 2, which we'll be spotlighting tomorrow in 30 Days of Godzilla.

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