After the daffy, time travelling fun of Godzilla’s previous outing to give Japan a clouting, parent studio Toho decided to continue giving his monstrous supporting cast a modern upgrade. Next up for a 90’s face lift was Mothra, the peace loving eco-God and consumer of giant sweaters (presumably).
After a massive meteor strike unearths a egg the size of Zeus’ bowling ball, a large corporation sets up an expedition made up of a representative, an adventurer and his ex-wife set off to Infant Island to go and study it. During their attempt to ship the egg back to the mainland their journey is interrupted by the perma-peeved Godzilla who as also been awaked by the meteor’s impact and worse still, Battra, a sort of spikey anti-Mothra also joins the party looking to rumble with his opposite number who, on cue, hatches from the egg. With the chaotic good and chaotic evil of Mothra and Battra’s centuries old battle beginning anew, and with Godzilla deciding to be more chaotic than neutral, the fight is on so save the earth from utter destruction.
Still on a roll from Godzilla Vs King Ghidorah, GVM still keeps the same relentless, Hollywood aping energy it’s predecessor had, but this time instead of focusing time travel and androids there’s a super strong Indiana Jones feel to the first third of the movie as we get to know our treasure hunter hero through some decidedly Spielbergian (if a tad low rent) set pieces. The monster battles are surprisingly good considering that both Mothra and Battra, in either of their forms, don’t actually have any arms but instead either blast their opponents with energy rays or just ram each other like a bloody maniac. The fights contain large amounts of personality too as alliances change mid-fight and unlikely friendships are temporarily formed and there’s even a continuation of the running gag of Larvae Mothra being unable to resist biting Godzilla’s tail when his back is turned. Luckily, the numerous bug brawls are easy to follow among the roars and squeals thanks to the return of Mothra’s twin mouthpieces The Shojbin, who call the fight like two diminutive sports commentators.
Now if this sounds all a little “moth god” heavy for a film with Godzilla in the title you’d be absolutely correct as our marauding main monster actually has ZERO to do with the plot. He just rocks up at various points of the plot and unnecessarily complicates things that have nothing to do with him like a belligerent drunk at closing time. Some have criticized this as poor plotting but I would personally beg to differ as in this (relatively) new persona as a force of nature with no real allegiances whatsoever – having the personality of a asshole who violently butts into things that have nothing to do with him – fits the character perfectly. Basically, he puts the wild into wild card.
Problems? Sure! The film is fun but it’s sure not perfect. For example, it’s becomes apparent fairly quickly that the budget can’t stretch to an Indiana Jones style action adventure AND a city crushing monster epic and so the early scenes feel a bit shoddily taped together and of course this being a movie with Mothra in it expect lots of clumsy “save the environment” speech slinging. I have no problem with the sentiment but if you don’t work it into the plot more organically it just stands out as mawkish and preachy.
But despite these qualms, Godzilla Vs. Mothra is still a vastly entertaining movie of it’s type and a timely welcome back to Toho’s first lady of Kaiju – and I’d guess a lover of more lamps than Brick Tamland.