Godzilla Vs. Mothra (Japan 1964)

Rating: ***
Alternate Titles: Mothra Vs. Godzilla (original Japanese title), Godzilla Vs. The Thing (US title)
Review Date: 2/16/20
Director: Ishiro Honda
Music: Akira Ifukube
Cast: Akira Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi

A devastating typhoon hits Infant Island, washing Mothra's giant egg out to sea. It washes ashore in Japan, where a greedy businessman purchases it from the local fishermen and builds an amusement park around it. Mothra's twin fairies plead with the evil humans to return the egg or disaster will befall them when it hatches, but they refuse. Meanwhile, another greedy businessman is attempting to reclaim flooded coastal lands and Godzilla just happens to be peacefully sleeping underneath them. The commotion stirs him back to life and he clumsily thrashes a town. He's instinctively drawn towards Mothra's egg, and the heroes (a newspaper reporter, a photographer, and a scientist) head to Infant Island to ask Mothra for help. Naturally, their request is denied, since outsiders are considered untrustworthy and won't even return Mothra's egg. However, Mothra herself has a change of heart and uses the last of her strength to battle Godzilla. The egg finally hatches, and two Mothra grubs manage to wrap Godzilla in a silk cocoon and drive him back into the sea.

The original "Mothra" (1961) proved to be so popular that it only made sense to pit her against Toho's leading monster, Godzilla. In this adventure, director Ishiro Honda blatantly denounces human greed and demonizes those who profit from the suffering of others. He also includes some cynical commentary on nuclear weapons and ineffective politicians, but his treatment of the media is surprisingly positive and sympathetic this time around, which is a thematic switch for him. Several familiar Toho faces are involved, but the most confusing is Hiroshi Koizumi, who also played the same scientist role in "Mothra." It's baffling that neither he or the fairies recognize each other, but it turns out the characters have different names and are therefore different people. Unfortunately, it's not so obvious to the audience. The miniature work is fantastic and features some of the best effects in the series, although repeated shots become increasingly tiresome. Also, some of the composite shots of Godzilla with live action plates look really bad, and some of the chroma-keying makes him transparent. The battle scenes are excellent, but the lengthy climax tends to drag, which started to make me impatient. Still, it's one of the better classic Godzilla movies, and the last film in the Showa Era that depicted Godzilla as a bad guy.