Rebirth of Mothra II – 1997, Kunio Miyoshi – Japan
When Toho kicked off it’s brand new Mothra franchise, they really started off on the right foot. Rebirth of Mothra was an excellent kaiju adventure which was geared for kids, but remained entertaining for adults, and which managed to carry an effective message of environmental consciousness without coming across as too preachy or obnoxious. That’s a hard balance to strike, and they pulled it off; Rebirth of Mothra was a surprisingly solid effort which I really enjoyed. For Rebirth of Mothra II, we get the embarrassing dud we expected out of its prequel; and it sucks super, super hard. This thing fumbles at every turn, so strap yourself in for a rocket ride to dudsville, everybody.
THE PLOT~ Three school children Goonies their way into a grand adventure involving a lost, sunken temple, ancient cursed treasure, a big pollution monster, and magical furby pee. Then Mothra shows up and kills a boring sea dragon. Roll credits.
That’s about it. It feels slapped together, and the Mothra sequences feel tacked on. It’s so haphazard that it really could have been a non-Mothra script about a bunch of kids on some crazy adventure that just wasn’t panning out, so they slopped on a well known Kaiju and called it a sequel. The adventure angle makes this movie feel like a weird, sucky Atragon, but without the submarine, or really anything that made me love Atragon. It even references the Lost Continent of Mu, so clearly, the writers did have Atragon on their mind when they cobbled together this clown-party, but it’s not enough, and what we get is just a sham of a movie.
This time around, Mothra’s up against Dagahra, which is sort of a dragon/stingray combo type thing, but that sounds cooler than it is. He just doesn’t feel that special, or that well concepted. Apparently, his thing is that he eats up pollution (oh, that’s good, right?) and then poops out evil, murderous starfish creatures (there’s the catch, we don’t want those Starfish creatures around), so he totally needs to be stopped, obviously, but the movie does an extraordinarily poor job of establishing that the environment is even that polluted to begin with. This really needed to be conveyed SOMEHOW, and it just wasn’t. Not well. I don’t think it’s out of line to call this the single least effective environmental fable in the extended Zilla-Verse. Boo, Rebirth of Mothra II! Boo!
And then there is Mothra himself- that’s right HIMself. The Mothra in this film, I have learned, is Mothra Leo, the son of the Mothra we all know and love; making this the first mothra in Toho history which is expressly noted as being male. Honestly, this gender switch up sucks, Mothra being female was always a huge part of her charm, and this just feels like an unnecessary change that makes the character that much less unique. All these monsters are dudes, let’s leave at least ONE lady in the fray.
The worst part of the movie comes at the end, in the final showdown between Mothra and Dagahra. Mothra, like, morphs into what I call an X-Wing Mothra, and then splits off into countless tiny X-Wing Mothras, so he/they can fly into Dagahra’s mouth and zoom around until they reach the reactor core and target it with their photon torpedos. That may have been Return of the Jedi, actually, but the same exact thing happens in Rebirth of Mothra II, so what the fuck ever. Then, the squadron of X-Wing Mothras exit the exploding Death Star/Dragon/whatever, and rejoins to form normal X-Wing Mothra Leo, and then morphs back to non X-Wing Mothra, meaning that Mothra’s X Foils are not permanently locked in attack formation, he can apparently revert back and forth whenever the movie needs to get stupider. It’s fucking lame. Fun fact; people have liked Mothra since the 50’s, and we don’t need to have her transformed into a dude which is shaped like a spaceship. You ruined everything, Toho.
Our three kids, meanwhile, are tasked with surviving the bumbling antics of two adult thieves, who have become Belvera’s newest henchmen, but their actual purpose is to illustrate to us the evils of human greed, and consequences thereof. None of that matters, because this message is lost due to how horribly disinteresting and poorly done the film is. You’ll be happy it’s over, and you’ll take nothing with you, Rebirth Of Mothra II is boring, ineffective, and overly childish to the point of being obnoxious, and frankly, it damages Mothra’s proud legacy.