Sunday, May 11, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) **½

NR, 89 min.
Director: Ishirô Honda
Writer: Shin’ichi Sekizawa
Starring: Akira Takarada, Yoriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi, Yû Fujiki, Yûmi Itô, Emi Itô, Yoshifumi Tajima, Kenji Sahara, Jun Tazaki

Toho Studios continues the Godzilla series with more sophisticated storytelling in 1964’s “Mothra vs. Godzilla”, originally released in the U.S. as “Godzilla vs. the Thing”. The storytelling elements are much improved over 1955’s “Godzilla Raids Again”. It seems some sort of executive decision must’ve been made to shore up their storylines with more human elements.

Again the screenwriter takes the sci-fi opportunity to introduce some socio-political commentary, this time attacking Japan’s thrust into capitalism after the dismantling of their empire following World War II. They also lob a few bombs at the incompetence of the Japanese and U.S. militaries. The nuclear testing analogy is there as always in the Godzilla movies.

While the sophisticated storytelling is a grand improvement on previous episodes, they still throw a good dose of weird into their pot. The strangest element of this Godzilla movie would have to be the Twin Fairies, who act as spokesmen for Mothra. They come from an island, looking for an egg that was lost in the same storm that blew Godzilla back ashore. The island was a nuclear testing site, which might explain their diminutive size. The screenplay certainly makes no other efforts to do so. But, why and how are these twins the only inhabitants of the island that are small? Especially considering that Mothra is a giant moth.

Anyway, you get the obligatory scenes of Godzilla knocking down buildings for no other reason than that they exist for him to knock down. Godzilla fights Mothra. Godzilla fights the larvae that hatch from the egg. It’s all very exciting. Well… actually, with the improved subplotting the fight sequences are the least interesting segments of the movie. And, when it all comes down to it, this whole idea of giant monsters fighting each other while people look on is rather silly, as was proven just last year by the Godzilla/Kaiju inspired blockbuster “Pacific Rim”.  It has a little more character to it when it’s performed by what are obviously men in rubber suits, though.

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