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Mothra (1961)

Theatrical Poster (USA)
Movie Connections:
Mothra
> Mothra (1961)
> Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
> Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964)
> Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (1966)
> Destroy All Monsters (1968)
Genres:
Creature Film, Sci-Fi Action, Science Fiction
Director:
Ishir˘ Honda Ishir˘ Honda
Starring:
Furankţ Sakai Furankţ Sakai
Hiroshi Koizumi Hiroshi Koizumi
Ky˘ko Kagawa Ky˘ko Kagawa
Ken Uehara Ken Uehara
Emi It˘ Emi It˘

6.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Crispy
Added: September 22, 2007
So settling in to its new niche in kaiju eiga, Toho brings another monster into the mix with Mothra. Directing is genre-regular Ishiro Honda, best known for his work with the Gojira series. And while it doesn't quite live up the his previous work, it was good enough to give the creature its own place high in the ranks of kaiju circles.

A powerful hurricane is moving through the pacific, which leaves a large ship in considerable trouble. It ends up crashing on a deserted island in the middle of the testing area for atomic weapons. The crew are rescued the following day and miraculously are free from any radiation sickness. They attribute this to a juice the natives had them drink, which obviously causes a bit of an uproar among the scientific community. An exploration party is immediately called together to get to the bottom of this. This party is made up primarily of scientist, including Dr. Shin'ichi Tyuujou, an expert on the island in question. It is led by a man named Clark Nelson, a mysterious man who obviously has ulterior motives that nobody trusts. Also, reporter Fakuda has stowed away on the voyage looking for a scoop. On the island, not only do they find the natives, but they're a foot tall! Seeing opportunity, Nelson tries to kidnap the two women, but he is stopped by the rest of his party and other, regular sized natives appearing out of nowhere. Wisely, he lets them go and returns the party to Japan. However, Nelson is a wealthy man and wastes no time hiring a crew of henchmen and going back to kidnap the little women. Returning with his prize, he uses them like a freak show, making a great deal of money off of them. Naturally, the natives back on the island don't take too kindly to this and awaken their deity, Mothra, to rescue the two. Back in Japan, Tyuujou and Fakuda befriend the girls and are warned of Mothra's coming. They now have to somehow free the women from Nelson's possession before Mothra destroys the city to get to them.

This movie proved a real pain in the ass to find; so I was forced to go off the English dubbed version. I personally can't stand dubbed films, but he beggars can't be choosers as the saying goes. So, as a result, I can't comment too much on the acting skills found here, but even so, you can see a lot of good things out of Jerry Itou. Even with the obligatory goofy voice that was dubbed in, you still get quite the sinister feel from the man. I can only imagine what he was able to do when he was actually able to speak for himself. Well done there indeed. I just really wish I knew why it's seemingly not possible to dub these movies and have it sound halfway presentable.

The great thing about Mothra was the way it was able to separate itself from the other kaiju movies of the time, even in its first outing. You see, the difference here is that Mothra is not the enemy. Sure, she does her fair share of destruction to the city, but she's just trying to get the girls back. In reality, the real enemy here is Nelson, not Mothra. In all her future adaptations, Mothra would never be an actual villain, and to my knowledge she's the only kaiju to accomplish this. Sure, the choice to focus on Nelson slowed the movie down somewhat, but it worked out far better this way. After all, when your company is known for making giant monster movies, it's important to have a little variety in there.

Mothra was actually able to squeeze two monsters in one here. It starts out as a caterpillar. Eventually, it slowly matures and weaves a cocoon in one of the most famous scenes in the genre. Naturally, this means they had two monsters to bring to life, and I'm happy to say that they did a great job with both. The initial thought here was to use Godzilla's tail as the caterpillar form. Thank God that fell through and they started from scratch. Both creatures look great, especially the caterpillar form. In fact, that one actually looks better than the adult form. As a moth she just looks too fuzzy. Now, looking at both of these creatures, you don't see too much of either animal as a destructive force, and that carries through even when their a thousand times their normal size. As a caterpillar, she's pretty much reduced to ramming through buildings head on. It looks cool once or twice, but after awhile it's really repetitive. Same with the adult version. Her single trick is flapping her winds and tearing the city apart with the hurricane speed winds coming off. Again, it's cool at first, but gets old pretty quick. Compliments to Honda, who was smart enough to "speed up" the film (read: fast music and quick camera changes) when she switched to moth form. I know that seems like an obvious thing, but the little things are forgotten so often in these movies.

Sure, Mothra isn't the best monster movie to come out of Japan, but it's pretty good in its own right. And its titular kaiju has gone on to become one of the most famous monsters the company's ever created, so you know they did something right. 5.5/10.
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