Mothra vs. Godzilla Review

Seeing a man dressed as an atomic lizard swat a giant bug out of the sky shouldn’t be this engaging. Mothra vs. Godzilla is a monumental, important film for the Toho era. Pitting the two popular kaiju against one another reaps truly great rewards, and is possibly the strongest sequel of the initial Godzilla piece thus far. But it is how the great Ishirō Honda captures the brutal destruction left in Godzilla and Mothra’s wake that makes it this engaging. Clashing these characters together is no small feat, and considering this was one of the earliest entries into the series, it is quite surprising to see that it works so exceptionally well.  

With the strengths of both standalone films coming together, it is reassuring to see that the plot of Mothra is also told here, although in slightly different circumstances. Those strange fairy twins return, and the commercialisation and folly of man that birthed Godzilla also brings Mothra from its colourful egg. Speaking of eggs, the oddly charming reoccurring journalist, who munches away on eggs in moments of crisis and stress, is one of the many nice touches found throughout. There’s a certain understanding from Honda and the cast that they are indeed playing a collection of small, supporting performances. They are there to provide a semblance of narrative style so we as an audience can pretend we’re interested in the strife and struggle, rather than the death and destruction.  

Learning from the underwhelming films that preceded it, Mothra vs. Godzilla wastes no time at all, diving into the hectic destruction fairly quickly. Stomping around and smashing anything in his narrow path, Godzilla makes for a dominating presence, and Mothra is soon forgotten about. Delaying their full impact and appearance until much later into the film, we do eventually receive what the title had promised. How we get there is stifled by forgettable characters and the harrowing inclusion of some strange break of pace for some impish music. Still, the production and set design is of such a fantastic quality, and the early years of special effects don’t look all that bad. In fact, they add to the layers of charm found throughout, disguising the less than stellar message the film fumbles through.  

Tapping in to the gluttony and greed of selfish business owners looking to turn profit, Mothra vs. Godzilla features a similar energy and factor of engagement that lacked in Mothra, but provided the core of Godzilla. Pumping a great soundtrack and excellent destruction into the script is an incredibly simple, yet effective idea. Hopefully it lasts, the pacing and stylish tones of this Honda piece do not provide depth to the overarching, excellent themes, but they do present a fun, engaging bit of devastation. That’s what we clamour for, isn’t it? Monsters harassing one another on an impromptu field of battle. Mothra vs. Godzilla has that nailed down exceptionally well, offering up some surprisingly great shots, whilst never forgetting the kaiju creatures at the heart of it all.  

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