The Earth is headed for disaster and when an archeological research team visits Infant Island to find out why, they discover two tiny women who reveal that the Earth is fighting back for all the harm humans have done here and sends out the evil Battra to destroy us. The Cosmos, as the girls are called, offer their help by calling Mothra to battle the creature. Unfortunately, Godzilla also appears and a three way battle begins that threatens to destroy Japan. Written by
Todd A. Bobenrieth <TAB146@PSUVM.EDU>
This film's origin went back to 1990 with the concept Mothra Vs. Bagan. The film would include battles all across Asia in places like Shanghai and Bangkok. However, when Gojira tai Biorante (1989) failed, Toho blamed the fact that an unfamiliar monster was used and this project was put on hold to give Godzilla another shot with Gojira tai Kingu Gidora (1991). See more »
Strings holding up Mothra and Battra are visible in some scenes. The bright studio lights make them easy to spot against the dark background. See more »
The most beautiful Heisei-Era "Godzilla" film?!? (Yes!)
Toho has long recognized that women make up a significant portion of their audience, which is often why women have played such a prominent role in many of the "Godzilla" features that have been released over the decades since the mighty King of the Monsters's debut in "Gojira" (1954). That is why women play such a prominent role in some of the newer "Godzilla" features released between 1984 and 1995.
Hence, that is also perhaps why Toho took the chance in 1992 to revive one of the longest-standing staples of its kaiju (monster) library: Mothra, whose name would imply, is a giant moth - a monster-god - with decidedly feminine characteristics. Mothra was not the first female kaiju to appear in the second-generation Heisei-Era "Godzilla" films. That first monster was the horrific yet tragic Biollante, from "Godzilla vs. Biollante" (1989), which I will contend remains the crowning achievement of the Heisei-Era films.
Takao Okawara was selected to helm 1992's "Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth" (or more simply known as "Godzilla vs. Mothra") by Kazuki Ohmori, who wrote and directed both previous Heisei-Era features "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" (1991) and the aforementioned "Godzilla vs. Biollante." "The Battle for Earth" is ostensibly a remake of the classic "Godzilla vs. Mothra" (1964), but with a much stronger environmentalist subtext.
Things begin with a huge meteor crashing into the Pacific Ocean, setting off a chain reaction of environmental disasters all across the world.
The film opens with a direct homage to the timeless opening sequence from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981): Takuya Fujita (Tetsuya Bessho) manages to retrieve a priceless artifact from the ruins of an ancient temple in Thailand, and is promptly arrested for the theft. His ex-wife Masako (Satomi Kobayashi) comes to see him in jail (while also trying to extract delinquent alimony payments out of him), and offers him a chance at freedom: she has talked to the Thai police and they will let him out on the condition that he helps her to locate Infant Island, where a giant egg was recently discovered following a powerful typhoon.
It's an offer he'd be stupid to refuse.
They travel to Infant Island and find the egg, but also its two protectors - the Cosmos (Keiko Imamura and Sayaka Osawa), two beautiful young girls who are only a few inches in height; they're also the successors to the Shobijin from the first-generation Showa-Era "Godzilla" films, who performed a similar role. They explain that they're the last of an ancient civilization that had once tried to control the weather, and they were protected by their benevolent monster-god Mothra. But they were eventually wiped out during a battle with the malevolent "anti-Mothra" monster Battra, who is described as being the physical manifestation of Earth's innate instinct for self-preservation.
Eventually, the enraged Battra is awakened from its eons-long slumber, and he does battle with an even stronger and more menacing Godzilla at sea; Mothra, too, soon joins the fray, after she hatches from her egg - in a sequence referencing a scene from "King Kong vs. Godzilla" (1962). (It must be said that "Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth" is one of the more visually arresting features of the Heisei-Era "Godzilla" features, highlighted by the strong cinematography and the top-notch special effects by Koichi Kawakita.)
It is interesting to note the strong feminine presence in this film. Mothra remains the most prominent female kaiju in Toho's legion of giant monsters. But even more note-worthy with "Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth" is the strong performances of its human females, Masako and the Cosmos, who both play significant roles in the film's events and don't just stand around doing nothing while all the men do the heavy lifting. There's some romance in here, too, but none of the really gushy stuff we shallow Yanks are so accustomed to on our side of the Pacific. It's also remarkable that the film's two main characters are a bickering divorced couple (rather than scientists or heroic military folks, and who predictably rekindle their love for one another over the course of the film) - one of whom is a criminal, a thief, no less! - but are able to put aside their marital troubles to try to help save humanity. It is a little tragic that essentially Takuya is an adult child who's running away from his familial responsibilities, and ex-wife Masako has to hide the fact from their young daughter that her father is a thief (which is a heavy emotional burden she's none too happy, or willing, to bear).
The last and greatest aspect of "Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth" is the beautiful, elegant film score by Japan's most renowned film composer, Akira Ifukube (who sadly passed away in 2006), and who returned to the "Godzilla" series on the previous entry "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah." Ifukube's score for this film is just another one of the high points of his incredibly long and illustrious career. It's highly emotional, incredibly evocative of the feelings of the film, and is just an amazing piece of film music to listen to; it truly captures the magnificent beauty of the film, apart from its savage, special effects-laden giant monster battles. And the songs sung by Keiko Imamura and Sayaka Osawa will most likely bring tears to your eyes as they sing their lovely new rendition of "Mothra's Song," as well as the song "The Appearance of Imago Mothra" (which is featured in the spectacular sequence where Mothra emerges as a moth from her cocoon after crashing the National Diet Building - Japan's house of parliament, in case you don't know). I would highly recommend trying to find Ifukube's score somewhere.
With its lush visuals, beautiful Akira Ifukube music score and devastating monster battles, "Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth" is definitely one of the better films from the Heisei-Era "Godzilla" pictures.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?