The title of this Godzilla offering is a bit misleading. It makes it seem like Godzilla and Mothra are teaming up to save the planet, when in reality the two are still beating the crap out of each other in Japan and ignoring the rest of the world. Still, the film is fun to watch, and should be given credit for trying to inject new life into the Mothra mythos.
The film opens with a meteor crashing into the Pacific Ocean, disrupting an already unbalanced ecology. Godzilla is awakened, and clearly not happy about the early wake up call, expresses his displeasure in his usual anti-social manner. But also revived are Mothra and her evil nemesis Battra. Mothra soon realizes she can’t stop Godzilla alone, and must resolve her differences with her dark twin and unite to defeat Godzilla.
The highlight of “Godzilla and Mothra” is the excellent special effects by Koichi Kawakita. The new Godzilla suit is less bulky, allowing for more realistic movements, especially in the battle scenes. Godzilla also has more pronounced fangs, nasty double rows of teeth, and larger dorsal fins. Mothra is nicely ethereal, but a major flaw in her design is that her wings don’t flap during flight. Battra looks appropriately malevolent, and is a nice addition to Godzilla’s Rogues Gallery of monsters.
Battle scenes involving the monsters are effectively done, with the best being Godzilla’s fight with Battra over an erupting volcano and a three-way battle in an amusement park for the film’s finale. Fans will be happy to learn that Godzilla’s signature roar has returned to normal. No longer a deeper sounding roar, the higher pitch screech has been restored, making Godzilla sound like he’s always sounded in previous films.
New director Takoa Okawara handles his chores expertly, swiftly moving the film along and appropriately focuses on the monsters and the destruction they invariably cause. He’s also sly enough to add several scenes that pay homage to past Godzilla films, and fans in the know will appreciate the subtle touches. The music by legendary composer Akira Ifukude is a lushly rendered orchestral score, and truly shows the incredible talent of the man who has been scoring Godzilla films since 1954. Whether it’s a battle scene, or simply a moment of exposition, Ifukude masterfully underscores every scene with the appropriate music. Bravo maestro, bravo.
However, there are few kind words for writer Kazuki Omori, who should have a restraining order placed so he can’t be within 5 miles of any Godzilla script ever again. Omori’s story for “Godzilla and Mothra” meanders all over the place, throwing in ancient civilizations, an Indiana Jones knock-off, greedy corporate types, and doomsday scenarios as if the writer had a nasty case of writers block and couldn’t work out of it. Even worse, Omori feels the need to hammer the audience over the head with preachy environmental messages. Not a scene goes by without at least one character gravely noting, “We’ve done this to ourselves” or solemnly acknowledging the destruction of something on the planet. Wanting to educate the audience to help save the environment is a noble idea, but to constantly focus on it gets annoying very quickly and only makes the audience ignore the message.
“Godzilla and Mothra” suffers from a flawed script, but is redeemed by a talented director, composer, and some nifty monster action. It may not be a classic, but it is fun to watch for 107 minutes. Had this movie had a better writer, it would have been a benchmark of the Godzilla series; as it stands, “Godzilla and Mothra” is still an enjoyable film for fans of the big G.
Takao Okawara (director) / Kazuki Omori (screenplay)
CAST: Tetsuya Bessho …. Takuya Fujita
Satomi Kobayashi …. Masako Tezuka
Takehiro Murata …. Kenji Andoh