Godzilla Vs Mothra AKA Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle For Earth– 1992, Takao Okawara – Japan
So… If “MOTHra” is a MOTH… Then “BATtra” is a bat?
Nope! Battra is also a damn moth. Sorry, suckers. That would have been cool, though.
After the painfully convoluted Godzilla VS King Ghidorah, a time travel movie that doesn’t understand time travel, we have Godzilla VS Mothra– a much more streamlined, point A to point B story, with no time travel and no frumpy ginger androids. Hooray!
Godzilla VS Mothra is another environmental fable style Godzilla flick, and this time they really play up the spiritual aspects of Mothra that have been touched on and/or implied in past movies. In this film, Mothra’s role has been redefined as a quasi ethereal guardian monster, one of the tools the Earth uses to maintain balance. Mothra and Co. become representations of Nature, and are presented as above our subjective concepts of morality, instead serving as mechanisms for a more universal, inarguable form of natural justice. As such, even when they make the hard choices that seem difficult to we feeble humans, they are still framed as being “The good guys,” because that’s just how it has to be. Therefore, Godzilla, by default, slides into his role as “the bad guy,” and represents science, hubris, and the tragically meddlesome nature of the human race. It’s sort of funny, at this point in the franchise, Toho has really turned on science in general. It’s hard to imagine the same Futurist attitude seen in Son Of Godzilla or Destroy All Monsters belonging to the same franchise as GVM; and by this point the series appears to advocate an almost neopaganist return to nature and spiritualism, something eerily in step with the Neopaganist movement in Europe at that time. Those same sentiments exist today, so if anything Godzilla VS Mothra is more meaningful now than it ever was.
THE PLOT- Meet Taukya Fujita- the Japanese Indianna Jones! As a rugged, “Devil May Care” tomb raider/scoundrel, Takuya’s adventurer’s spirit gives him the wherewithal to survive inhospitable jungles and dodge ancient booby traps, as well as child support payments! That’s right, Takuya has totally and completely skipped out on raising his daughter, a fact brought to our attention when he is sprung out of jail by his babymomma Masako, as well as by a sniveling, spineless yes-man called Kenji. The two represent some giant Japanese land developing corporation, and they need Takuya’s help investigating an island owned by their employers. Although Masako resents Takuya for his failures as a parent, she knows him to be a capable jungle adventurer, and she bites the bullet and puts her feelings aside for the near-term. Taykua, however, is predictably scoundrel-like in his behavior, yet he eventually agrees to help, and so the three set out to Infant Island, who fans of the Showa Godzilla films will remember as the island where Mothra lives. I think the plan was that both parents should leave for this dangerous island, so that that way if anything happened, their child would be left orphaned. It’s a “put all your eggs in one basket and then ship that basket to a dangerous island” strategy. SPEAKING OF EGGS; that’s what they discover on infant island, Mothra’s egg. It seems that a recent meteorite impact along a fault line in the ocean triggered landslides and Earthquakes which had uncovered Mothra’s egg, as well as the egg of Battra; an evil, spikier, cooler moth monster. Although Infant Island is uninhabited (or is it?), ancient cave paintings are discovered by our team, and from these they learn about Mothra and Battra, two sides of the same monster coin, destined to bring balance to the force, or the Earth, or whatever. They also encounter the two tiny women of Infant Island, Mothra staples from past Toho films.
The tiny ladies tell us a little bit more about the situation at hand. Apparently, they are called “Cosmos,” and are actually ancient creatures from space. Sounds about right. Also, the Earth is hurting and we’re mean to it or whatever. Whatever, Cosmos- Hey, you guys, I know; let’s yank this giant egg out the Earth and see if we can make money off it somehow! So, that’s what they do.
Mothra’s egg never makes it to Japan, however. That same meteorite that shook up Infant Island also woke up and pissed off Godzilla, and he’s eager to let everyone know how giant and angry he is. From here, we have a three way monster confrontation stretched out over the rest of the film. Battra shows up, and he/she/it is pretty darn cool. Initially, Mothra and Battra are at each others throats, until Godzilla intervenes and appears poised to slay Battra. Mothra saves Battra’s life, and after some weird, tender kaiju moth exchanges which we can never hope to understand and probably wouldn’t want to if we could, Battra and Mothra reconcile, accepting one another’s role as being crucial to the survival of the Earth. They then team up and kick Godzilla’s ass. This metaphor is repeated, and solidified, through the reconciliation of Takuya and Masako, who patch things up and accept that their duties as parents to their daughter supersede their own selfish ambitions. Following this metaphor through to finish, this makes the daughter a representation of the Earth, and at the end of Godzilla Versus Mothra, mankind pledges to be less of a shit head in our role as stewards of our planet. I’m sure that lasted like, a week, then we steam rolled Tibet to make way for a parking structure.
So, the central metaphor for Godzilla VS Mothra is fairly well pronounced, and the composition is solid. Beyond this, we have a mixed bag of ups and downs, but over all the film is pretty good. I think I’m going to list this.
- Battra is a cool, interesting new character. He might seem more original than he actually is, given that he’s just an evil Mothra doppelgänger, but he still feels like an expansion of the Mothra universe, and not just a retred.
- Our human characters are enjoyable, especially Takuya.
- The more spiritual/cosmic angle on Mothra feels appropriate, and it solidifies Mothra as being distinct and unique next to her kaiju colleagues.
- This is the first time Mothra looked like she could actually put up a decent fight against Godzilla.
- The monsters don’t really look very good. Godzilla’s once rubbery hyde now looks too shiny and plastic, as do the other monsters. They look more like something your kid would play on in a McDonald’s Playplace, and their motions look jerky and robotic.
- The movie could stand to have a little more monster action.
Over all, a pretty good entry for the Heisei series.