Mothra versus Godzilla
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Mothra versus Godzilla

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There are few movie monsters that have achieved the fame of Godzilla. By the time 1964 came around they were on their forth installment of this franchise, Godzilla versus Mothra, or here in the states, Godzilla versus the Thing. By the time most film franchise reach the forth film plot lines and quality have usually run out. Fortunately this rule of thumb doesn’t apply here. Godzilla versus Mothra is arguably one of the better of sequels of the fifties classic. I was excited to find out that this film was being released on DVD. The Godzilla flicks were among the first I used to enjoy as a kid, taking the train into Manhattan to spend my allowance to watch them. Godzilla and Mothra were great for an eleven year old and I do admit that watching it again from an adult viewpoint did bring back some great memories.

After a particularly large and violent storm a huge egg washes up on the beaches of Kurata. It is secured by the local villagers and sold to a rich real estate developer, Banzo Torahata (Kenji Sahara). His plans are to turn the giant egg into a money making tourist attraction. A reporter, Ichiro Sakai (Akira Takarada) and his photographer Junko 'Yoka' Nakanishi (Yuriko Hoshi) just happened to be around to document the storm’s damage when they learn of the egg’s discovery. They contact noted scientist Professor Miura (Hiroshi Koizumi) about the find but before they can make much progress Torahata’s agent, Kumayama (Yoshifumi Tajima invokes the legal claim of Happy Enterprise to the egg. Later, as Kumayama is discussing the matter with his boss they are interrupted by two tiny female fairies, the Shojobin (Emi and Yûmi Ito). The try in vein to explain that they are from Mothra Island and that the egg belongs to Mothra, the monster god of the island. The two devious business men go beyond ignoring the pleas of the tiny twins and try to capture them to add to the public attraction. They Shojobin escape and make their way to Sakai, Yoka and the professor. They explain that if the egg is not returned it will hatch into a monster and destroy everything in its path. The trio agrees to do everything possible to return the egg to the island. While the scientist and this two young companions are testing for radioactivity Godzilla appears and does what he does best, tear everything in sight up. The military is unable to stop the rampaging lizard and it looks like Japan is going to be destroyed by the creature. Since the best minds of the world cannot come up with a solution a plan is hatched by a co-worker of Sakai, Jiro Nakamura (Yu Fujiki). His suggestion is to get Mothra to defeat Godzilla. Sakai and Yoka journey to Mothra Island to ask for help but since most of the island has been destroyed by nuclear testing the natives are less than receptive to the plan. The Shojobin begin to sing drawing everyone around them. They explain that there are many innocent lives at sake, people that had nothing to do with the destruction the test inflicted on their peaceful island. The twin’s song awakens Mothra but there is a catch, he is too weak to return to the island after the battle. Naturally, what follows is a title match between the two monsters. Godzilla breathes his radioactive fire and Mothra spins super strong silk and a good time is had by all.

There are some notable difference between the original Japanese version of this film and the one released here in the States. For one the title was changed. In America the film was released as Godzilla versus the Thing. I seem to remember the title including Mothra but that may have been a televised rerun of the flick. As with many of the Americanized re-edits of the Godzilla franchise there is the mandatory inclusion of a scene depicting the might of the American military. Here this takes the form of a scene of the American army using missiles to attack Godzilla. This scene was released not only in American but many European countries. For Asian countries the scene is excluded. The film does feature the creative team responsible for the original including director Ishirô HondaTomoyuki producer Tanaka Akira Ifukube composing the score and Eiji Tsuburaya working his special effects.  This is somewhat a transitional film in the franchise. While the earlier films had some undercurrents of social commentary this flick was the real start of the Godzilla versus the monster series where creature after creature battles the huge lizard.

Sony has announced that this film will be give this film a general commercial release in the spring of 2007 but now you can purchase it directly on Sony has once again shown their commitment to the fans giving their best to a cult classic like this. Both the original Japanese version and the American cut. The Japanese release has a run time of 88:36 with 88:07 for the American. The video is provided in Cinemascope 2.35:1 non anamorphic. The restoration here is very good with little signs of age on either version. The Japanese version has a Dolby audio which is not as full as it could be. The sound stage is too drawn out and unfocused. There is also a mono audio track included. Both variations contain some hiss that can be distracting. Of the different sound tracks the Japanese version does faire better you just have to commit to reading the English subtitles. The English version is dubbed. There is an audio commentary track featuring Ed Godziszewski, author of ‘The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Godzilla’ and Steve Ryfle who wrote ‘Japan's Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of Godzilla’. These are men that have devoted much of their professional lives with Godzilla and their enthusiasm and expertise show in their comments. There is also a slide show of the numerous posters for the film and one of the original Japanese trailers for the film. Included is a tribute to Shogo Tomoyuki as part of a biography of Akira Ifukube. This is a must have for anyone who grew up loving these films.

Posted 11/7/06

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