6.04.2009

Mothra : 3 of 5

While I was reading all about Eiji Tsuburaya, I got excited about seeing the original 1961 Mothra, since I had only seen her (yes, Mothra is female) in Godzilla movies. Unfortunately, there's not a current US DVD release of this landmark kaiju film, but Showa Video came to my rescue again (I definitely recommend them for any kaiju emergency!) with a great widescreen DVD with excellent English subtitles. I really enjoyed the movie, although it was a little different than I expected - I was hoping for something more like Rodan (one of the most "realistic", best-paced kaiju movies ever), but Mothra is a little less serious, especially since one of the main characters is a famous Japanese comedian. There's some extra comedy added by the large amount of actual spoken English (not dubbed, but part of the original film), which just comes across terribly (it's also somewhat funny that America is represented by the fictional "Rolisika", and Mothra attacks the sprawling "New Kirk City"!). However, I did enjoy the slow build-up (Mothra's egg doesn't even hatch until the 45-minute mark) and the use of lush color and music. Speaking of music, everyone loves the classic Mothra song sung by The Peanuts (the original "small beauties"), and their harmony is simply mesmerizing. The effects are a mixed-bag, but do include some fantastic scenes of larval Mothra swimming across the ocean while jets drop fire-bombs, and there are some awesome miniatures (really detailed signage!) and optical compositing (although for every great shot, there's also a bad one). I guess since Mothra and Rodan both attack basically the same way (via wind damage), I've been spoiled by the excellent effects in Rodan, which seemed a little better even though that's an earlier film. The real appeal of Mothra is the story itself, which has a King Kong feel with an island expedition and an evil tycoon who exploits via show biz, and of course Mothra herself is just a beautiful, mystical creature. I'm really glad I decided to buy this DVD, since I soon discovered that the next Godzilla film on my list is directly tied to the storyline of this movie!

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