Monday, 26 May 2014

Mothra vs Godzilla (1964)



After the success of the original Godzilla, the film-makers immediately spat out a sequel, in which a second creature (identical in abilities to the first) terrorises Japan.  At the end of that movie, the new Godzilla gets buried in an avalanche.  Seven years later, he emerged from under the rubble to battle King Kong, a fight that ended in the Pacific Ocean, with only Kong swimming away, and Big G's fate unknown (the urban legend that Godzilla wins in the Japanese version of the film are untrue, by the way).

Two years after that, the fourth Godzilla film - but the second in this box set - was released.  It begins with a hurricane sweeping the coast of Japan.  The clean-up effort involves a massive pumping rig that will clear away all the flooding.  Amidst the debris, however, a pair of reporters find a strange, scale-like object larger than a dinner plate.  They ponder what this might be, but are soon called away on other business: a giant egg has been seen floating in the sea!

The egg is brought ashore by fishermen, who sell it to an unscrupulous showman who plans to make an amusement park around it.  I'm not sure that an egg, even one 10 metres long, is really that much of an attraction, but perhaps people in 60s Japan were hard up for entertainment.

Two doll-sized women turn up to provide us with helpful exposition at this point.  It seems the egg belongs to their god, Mothra, and was accidentally washed away from its proper home during the recent hurricane.  The reporters try to help them get back the egg, but the showman isn't about to give up his star attraction so easily.  So the doll women return to their island empty-handed.

Meanwhile, the waters from the hurricane have been pumped away, exposing the mud flats below, and who should emerge but Big G himself, apparently recovered from his battle with Kong.  Soon, the giant lizard will be menacing not just all of Japan, but Mothra's egg.  Will we see a Kaiju showdown as the climax of the film?  I think we might!

This is one of the better-regarded Godzilla films, but I honestly wouldn't recommend it to most viewers.  The transition to colour hasn't been kind to the effects, which in my opinion worked better in black and white.  Also, there comes a point where you're like "oh, that's how Godzilla will be defeated but not killed this time, that's quite clever", but then the film drags the process on and on and on until I was seriously considering hitting the double speed button.

For fans of the giant monster genre only.

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