Director: Ishiro Honda
Writer: Shinichi Sekizawa
Cast: Akira Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi, Yu Fujiki, Kenji Sahara, Emi and Yumi Ito, Jun Tazaki, Yoshifumi Tajima, Kenzo Tatake, Futaka Sada, Akira Tani, Susumu Fujita, Ikio Sawamura, Ken Yamamoto, Kozo Nomura, Yasuhisa Tsutsumi, Mitsuo Tsuda, Shin Otamo, Senkichi Omura, Yoshio Kosugi, Miki Yashiro, Koji Iwamoto, Terumi Oka, Wataru Omae, Shiro Tsuchiya, Takuzo Kumagai, Koji Uno, Yutaka Nakayama, Toshihiko Furuta, Hideo Shibuya, Koji Urugi, Kenzo Echigo, Yukihiko Gondo, Koichi Sato, Hiroshi Akitsu, Tadashi Okabe, Haruya Okabe, Seishiro Kuno, Hiroshi Takagi, Keisuke Yamada, Shinjiro Hirota, Shigemi Sunagawa, Ikuo Kawamura, Rinsaku Ogata, Haruo Suzuki, Katsumi Tezuka, and Haruo Nakajima
Composer: Akira Ifukube
Release Date: 4/29/1964
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
During a heavy storm, a giant egg containing the offspring of Mothra arrives on the Japanese shoreline. Hoping to exploit the object, Kumayama (Yoshifumi Tajima) refuses to cooperate with the fairies of Infant Island—a mistake that proves detrimental when Godzilla emerges from the beach, posing a terrible danger to the inhabitants of Nagoya. Only Mothra, now on the brink of death, can prevent Godzilla from destroying the entire city.
For combining the dark, moody atmosphere of Gojira with the political undertones of Mosura, Mothra vs. Godzilla deserves its reputation as the quintessential kaiju offering. Monster movie buffs are therefore advised to view this classic feature, dated special effects notwithstanding.
Though arguably not as epic as the final act of King Kong vs. Godzilla, the initial fight scene in Mothra vs. Godzilla nevertheless benefits from an interesting execution; specifically, adult Mothra employs a variety of unique and clever tactics to even the odds between herself and Godzilla—presumably a superior foe who, in spite of his remarkable strength and abilities (e.g. atomic breath), struggles to overpower the graceful and delicate Mothra. By flapping her wings in a continuous motion, for example, Mothra generates a violent gale with which to immobilize Godzilla. Also worth noting is the coordination possessed by Mothra, which allows her to grab hold of her opponent’s tail and pull Godzilla away from the giant egg, thereby shifting the battle to a safe location.
On more than one occasion, Godzilla’s mouth appears to wobble in a most unnatural manner—a consequence of the MosuGoji suit sustaining damage during the production of this film.
In the Americanized version, the characters often refer to Mothra as the Thing. Despite having been included for promotional and/or copyright purposes, frequent usages of the word “thing” as a proper noun may confuse audiences with only a passing knowledge of Toho’s daikaiju series; that is, unwitting viewers could assume Mothra to be a separate creature from the so-called thing.
The final Showa era film to portray Godzilla as a villain, Mothra vs. Godzilla embodies the terrifying essence that defined its predecessor from 1954—an outcome that can be attributed, at least somewhat, to the fact that every character responds to Godzilla as if he presents a legitimate, existential threat to the people of Japan. In addition, Godzilla himself exhibits a number of malevolent characteristics (e.g. evil eyes) that accentuate his formidable presence, thus further recreating the ominous tone of Gojira—the only other pre-1980s kaiju movie to treat the king of monsters with the respect that he deserves.
Mothra vs. Godzilla is an iconic and praiseworthy installment in the Godzilla franchise. Especially exciting is the climactic showdown, the action-packed choreography of which will appeal to fans of the kaiju eiga genre.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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