Introduction to Mothra vs. Godzilla
I used to watch Godzilla movies a lot as a kid. Some random station would have broadcast rights for dirt cheap and play them to fill air time. So many great memories of a Saturday afternoon spent watching old monster movies. In more recent times, I’ve gone to the theaters to catch 2014’s Godzilla and 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters and while I generally enjoyed them (way more than that Matthew Broderick nonsense), there’s just something special about the old Toho films. Incidentally, Mothra is my favorite of the kaiju that face off against Godzilla – it’s cute, it’s generally a good monster and there’s something kind of silly about a giant moth spraying gold wing dust at a giant lizard with atomic fire breath.
As I’ve mentioned before, a group of nerds got together to watch a random sci-fi movie. This time, we got quite a treat (and some thankful respite from actual garbage). So let’s get into Mothra vs. Godzilla.
Story – Spoilers Abound
It’s been 10 years since the original Godzilla incident. When a typhoon hits a small fishing village in Japan, it brings with it a giant, unidentified egg. After a business tycoon (Kumayama) buys the rights to the egg for over a million yen, he partners with a billionaire investor (Torahata Jiro) to show the egg as an attraction. During their scheming, they hear the voices of what we learn are the miniature humanoid Guardians of Mothra, imploring the businessmen to return the egg to them. Their pleas are rejected; indeed, the businessmen plot instead to use the Guardians in their attraction.
The Guardians escape into the woods and meet our protagonists: newspaper reporter Sakai Ichiro, his photographer Hoshi Yuriko and Professor Koizumi Hiroshi. Again, the Guardians request the return of the egg. They add that Mothra’s larva poses a serious threat to the community when it hatches. Our Trio agree to help, but when they approach the businessmen, they are offered a substantial sum of money to turn the Guardians over; they refuse.
Suddenly, Godzilla awakens and begins to mostly stumble around and destroy structures by accident. Catching his tail in a radio tower and causing it to fall on him, he is enraged and the Trio head to Mothra’s home to persuade her to help. The Guardians warn the Trio that Mothra is old and near death. But, they assert that she will help once it becomes clear that her egg is in danger from Godzilla’s rampage. A fight ensues, and while Mothra appears to have the upper hand, Godzilla blasts her with his atomic fire breath and she dies. The egg hatches, revealing twin Mothra larvae that eventually succeed in coccooning Godzilla and dropping him into the ocean. It’s a bitter-sweet ending, but honestly quite hopeful for the future of humanity.
What Mothra vs. Godzilla Did Right
Godzilla looks great. I’m not a big fan of attempts to re-design the character to make him look more “natural” (see that Matthew Broderick nonsense). In fact, I was rather relieved when 2014 and King of the Monsters brought his proportions back to the old design.
Godzilla’s roar is one of my very favorite sound effects in a movie. It’s so iconic.
Mothra vs. Godzilla is more humorous than I recall later Godzilla movies being. Not all of the jokes land on a modern audience, but there’s enough in there that I was laughing at things that the creators intended people to laugh at. And, of course, at some things that were intended to be serious. I mean, it’s an early 60’s movie about a giant moth fighting a giant lizard.
What Mothra vs. Godzilla Did Wrong
Godzilla doesn’t show up until the middle of act 2 at best, and while we see Mothra earlier than that, she’s benign and in the shadows. Most of this movie is more of a human drama about the evils of rampant capitalism and technology.
Part of the humans’ plan to defeat Godzilla in the case that Mothra doesn’t help them is to send a bunch of tanks and planes to attack him. While most of the miniature work in this movie is actually pretty good, some of the tank and plane shots are rough.
Why did no one suspect that the egg might in fact be a Godzilla egg? Or at least some other kaiju? No one seems threatened by this thing at all, and it’s baffling.
There are better Godzilla movies (most, if not all, in the 21st Century), but if you’re looking to find out what it used to be like, this is probably the best choice you could make. I had a lot of fun watching this. The copy we had was a super high-quality film transfer, which helped in general but made some close-up shots of Godzilla and Mothra look a little goofy. While I couldn’t recommend this to a general audience, if you’re inclined to watch an old Godzilla movie, watch this one.