Pre-Ramble Mini Ramble: I hate the fact that Godzilla: King of the Monsters gave Mothra the moniker “Queen of the Monsters.” It strikes me as forced and unnecessary.
Pre-Ramble Mini Ramble: Revenge of the Mini Ramble: It took me three days to watch this film because I kept falling asleep. Not because it’s a bad film or I was bored watching it, but because I’ve been very tired lately and my couch is magically comfortable.
For the fourth entry of the Heisei Series, Toho decided to bring back Mothra to share the headline with Godzilla. Interestingly, from what I understand, they were a bit reluctant to use her originally as she didn’t have a lot of international appeal, but once learning that she’s a fan favorite among Japanese female audiences they decided to run with her. Chances are since they figured including her would be a safe bet, Toho felt brave enough to experiment a bit and bring in a brand new, third monster. Goth Mothra. Actually, it’s called Battra, but I’ll be damned if Goth Mothra isn’t right on the nose.
Unlike the previous film, the story for this one is actually rather decent. In general sci-fi fashion a meteor crashes into the ocean setting off a chain of events. Riffing off of Indiana Jones, we then go on meeting a tomb robber who’s totally no-no behavior quickly gets him in trouble with the law. In exchange for his freedom, the Japanese government hires him to investigate going ons on an island and to throw in some plot conflict his ex wife and a corporate man join in on the adventure. After some character exposition and a mishap or two in the jungle, our three adventurers soon stumble upon the cosmos fairies and Mothra’s egg. They promptly decide that the best course of action is to take both the fairies and the egg back to Japan, but pretty quickly Godzilla and Battra get involved and a battle breaks out right in the middle of the ocean. Lot’s of stuff happens and somehow a movie comes out of it. Look, I’m not always so good at plot summaries, okay? What I will say that’s a bit interesting is that this movie throws back to Mothra v. Godzilla in that for a brief moment an evil corporation wants to use the Mothra egg as a tourist attraction to make some easy cash and it also throws back to the original Mothra in that the fairie twins get kidnapped prompting Mothra to go on a rampage as she searches for them. Trust me though, unlike my plot summary, the plot for this movie doesn’t suck.
Know what else doesn’t suck? The monster design. Yeah, this is a Heisei Godzilla film so the monsters themselves are a bit stiff and lifeless. Yeah, I’m not happy about Heisei films compensating for this by basically incorporating beam battles to create action. That aside though, Godzilla looks decent and detailed. Mothra is bright and colorful and although somehow Mothra is less animated than she was during the Showa era despite advances in technology, she seems more powerful, more potent in this movie. Battra as a whole is a great monster. It looks menacing and while the designers might have gone a little bit overboard in trying to make it look like the polar opposite of Mothra (you know, evil), the overall design is still fun to look at. Unlike a lot of previous Godzilla films, the miniatures of the monsters are actually pretty well detailed. Yeah, if you’re paying attention you can still tell they’re miniatures, but it’s nowhere near as obvious as the miniatures of Gigan and Ghidorah in Godzilla on Monster Island! or even the miniature of Ghidorah from the previous year’s film.
One of the things I love about this movie is that the action scenes are so much better this time around. They gave both larval Mothra and larval Battra time to shine by giving them both individual rampage sequences. Normally people would think giant caterpillars can’t be all that scary of an idea, but this movie makes it work well. The last battle, for featuring a single man in a giant monster suit and two giant puppets dangling from the ceiling, is actually very well choreographed. In my opinion, it’s definitely the best battle in the Heisei era yet.
Overall, I really like this film. I think it’s the best in this continuity. The story doesn’t strike me as too overly convoluted, the characters might not be super complex and three dimensional but they fit the story well, and the monster designs and special effects strike me as above par for this era. I honestly don’t know if I’m biased though. I tend to think films in which Mothra shows up are some of the better Godzilla films. The question is though, is that really true, or do I just feel that way because I like Mothra so much? I dunno.
Either way, this film gets three and a half out of five Battra horns from me. It’s not one of the first Godzilla films I’d recommend to someone, but at the same time, I don’t think anyone would really regret watching it.