I originally posted this over on KG... but I thought those of you that may not have seen my review might enjoy it.
Besides I spent an enormously long time reviewing the film while writing (with a fine tooth comb) this. THAT takes longer than I thought it would. LOL**************************WARNING********************************
THIS IS SUPER SPOILER HEAVY!!!!
Do not read anymore of this post if you have not seen the movie and wish to watch it without knowing (almost) EXACTLY what happens! I do not know what the BBCode is for Spoilers otherwise I would use that to hide the majority of this post.
Anyhow... here it is...
MOTHRA (Japanese version - Eng subtitles) from the DVD: Icons of Sci-Fi: TOHO COLLECTION
The opening to this is of course cool! Gotta love the TOHO logo... just incredibly nostalgic for me.
Credits - Though they are not translated on the disc I have. The colors and layouts of the entire thing is actually quite pretty.
The use of the camera throughout this film is really wonderful. Very Hollywood with nice sweep ins and great angles.
Though I did have to adjust the brightness and contrast in a few scenes to actually see them (and this is a great copy of the film... I just think it was the way it was filmed).
The ship battling the Typhoon is done damn well and the model is incredible in my eyes. It looks like it is actually caught in a vicious storm and the live action shots mirror this nicely! Anyhow ship crashes on the rocks of Infant Island (only four survivors).
The Mat-painting of Infant Island is totally gorgeous. One of my favorite aspects about TOHO films is the amazing visuals of the Mats they have and used. It added a surreal quality to the "Strange Islands" of all the SHOWAera.
Kenji Sahara appears briefly in this film as a rescue helicopter pilot. He is never named (Though as everyone knows... he is a veteran TOHO actor. and will again, as before gain much larger roles later).
At the "National Synthesis Nucleus Center" (I have no idea what the heck that is... I suppose studies in radiation, since if anyone would study it... it would be the Japanese after their experiences during WWII)
After a nice bombardment of reporters, we switch to a lab with Dr. Harada (actor: Ken Uehara) and an unnamed assistant of Dr. Harada (played by the now famous Godzilla star Akihiko Hirata). This scene plays out very nicely. I liked the fact that they did more with the survivors of the shipwreck due to the fact that they were on an irradiated island, of course this is only a lead in for (Bulldog I believe in the American version) Snapping Turtle-Zen reporter Senichiro Fukuda - (comedic actor Frankie Sakai - who is quite funny in a serious manner) and his photographer Michi Hanamura (played by the famous actress Kyoko Kagawa). The camaraderie between these two is fun to watch. Of course they are doing the standard reporter thing and being where they are not suppose to. But Dr. Harada is pretty forgiving.
This is also where they learn that there are natives on Infant Island where nuclear testing hast taken place... and there was not suppose to be anything living on the island (*GASP!*) oh and they learn about the anti-radiation "red" juice.
We then turn to the offices of Nitto Press and are introduced to an unnamed News Editor (played by well known actor Takashi Shimura), who is rather Perry White-like (ala Superman Comics) in his mannerisms.
He sends his two reporters to the Rolisican (thinly veiled name for Russia & America) Embassy where they are making a statement about investigating this Infant Island thing. We meet the unnamed Rolisican Ambassador (Actor: Harold Conway) and basically swears there were no inhabitants on the Island on the island before they used the site for (*Gasp!*) a test site for Atomic and hydrogen bombs (Those damn Russi... Americ... umm Rolisicans). But they will investigate. But basically deny any wrong doing.
Back again to our Reporters who are to meet one ethnologist and linguist Professor Shinichi Chujo - (YEA!! my favorite TOHO actor!! Hiroshi Koizumi - who also appeared most recently as the exact same character in GODZILLA: Tokyo S.O.S.), anyhow just so you all know an Ethnologist is also defined as:
1. study of ethnic groups: the comparison of different cultures, or the study of how and why cultures differ. Ethnology can focus on one culture through time, or several cultures at the same time.
2. See cultural anthropology
This is a fun bit here. As our reporters need a pic of Prof. Chujo and he hates to have his picture taken. So he is being less than cooperative with either of our reporters. Then there is this mouse thing, a little screaming, some up the sleeve mouse hijinks and of course the introduction of Chujo's younger brother (and likely father of one of the heroes of G:Tokyo S.O.S.) Shinji Chujo (young actor: Akihiro Tayama) and two of his unnamed friends. I think this whole portion of the film is a nice scene and sets up the friendship that forms between Shinichi Chujo & Senichiro Fukuda (also setting up the plot with Prof. Chujo's younger brother later on).
The Rolisican Government gathers it's expedition together and we get to meet the man in charge, one Clark Nelson (played by Jerry Ito - who is a lot of fun in this role - he is kind of user insidious). He is a snot and shows it early on. Of course our reporter duo do not like him. Also during this portion we meet Dr. Rakh/Roff (American looking actor: Obel Wyatt)
With the send off there is kind of a flub... well at least in my eyes. We never see how reporter Senichiro Fukuda gets on board that research ship (He's crafty, if anyone could find a way to walk on board. He's the man). There is also another thing about this portion of the film. The send off is a pretty big deal and in the commentary portion of this disc (Steve Ryfle & Ed Godziszewski) say this was not an uncommon thing for things of this nature to be made a big deal out of. I think that is cool.
We discover at this point that Nelson is being a brat and trying to keep all the info for himself that the scientists acquire much to Dr. Harada's dismay... and of course Prof. Chujo isn't putting up with that... and he is gonna say something. It is a fun, very believable exchange between both Harada and Chujo. They truly come off as scientists here I think.
Meanwhile Nelson discovers Fukuda's presence and ain't too happy about it... matter a fact. He pulls a gun on our poor humorous reporter. Fortunately Chujo busts in to give Nelson a piece of his mind. The great thing about this scene is the out and out dislike that is apparent between Nelson and Chujo. Fukuda and Chujo leave... but there is a cool glaring testosterone exchange between Nelson and Chujo (frankly I think Nelson had to change his underwear after this scene).
Scene changes to that of a shot of the model of the expedition ship traveling and shortly, one of it anchored just off Infant Island. They certainly know their miniature stuff in these earlier movies. Just great images.
They prepare to get ready to go onto the island and discuss the situation about Nelson's demands, some stuff about Radiation suits as well.
They then gather, discuss the expedition plan and procedure, finally getting onto the island. After a bit of climbing they stumble upon the not so hidden forest of Infant Island. It is an amazing Mat shot. I wish they had cleared back and given us the entire valley picture. It is quite cool!
They enter the jungle and start investigating it.
Prof. Chujo heads off on his own and finds a mysterious cave with unusual plants in it. It weirdly reminds me of images I have seen of Matango (though I haven't actually seen that film. I will!), there are some cool crystal formations here and the coloration of the whole thing is rather striking.
Chujo then finds a wall carving that will introduce us to the symbol of Mothra (of which he does an etching off-screen).
It is reported that Chujo is missing by Fukuda and when we return to Chujo, he is wandering through the forest and gets all snagged up in some kind of tangle vines. Rather cool effect of them looping around him. The jungle looks very believable in all of these scenes.
Chujo is of course forced to signal his fellows and that is when THEY show up... The ‘Shobijin‘, the Priestesses of Mothra The twin girls-sisters (Actresses and singers of the Peanuts: Emi and Yumi Ito), I think they did as good of job as possible with the enlarged sets for the girls. Not bad for the times.
Of course Chujo is rescued and taken aboard the Research vessel. He blithers on about the "Tiny Beauties" (As Fukuda names them) and of course Nelson gets that greedy greedy look in his eyes! (not good!).
The team finds the ‘Shobijin‘ when Chujo uses his emergency signal device to attract them like he did by accident earlier (kind of a neat way to attract them - probably seemed like music of some sort to them). They sing in a weird organ noise, which Chujo deducts is some sort of code. Deciphering it somehow (don't ask me how Chujo could make ANY sense of it) it is thought that they are asking them not to harm their (Infant) Island (Atomic/Nuclear testing I am sure bothers them).
Of course Nelson shows his true color here as he and his Rolisican Henchman (actor: Osman Yusuf) snatch the Shobijin up (in some really bad cutting/meshing of the human hands holding them... not including the stiff dolls they use for this scene. Not terrible. Just not at all realistic looking).
Infant Islander Natives surround our poor expedition with clacking rocks and basically threatening the well armed men.
Dr. Harada & Dr. Rakh demand that Nelson releases them and they order their men to lower their weapons. Nelson out manned releases the Shobijin (though he still retains that hungry shark look). The whole "This is a science venture" thing is pulled off really well here.
The expedition returns to Japan. Basically everyone is hush about the "Tiny Beauties", Not sure if they said anything about the ACTUAL natives or not. One would have to assume so. Just so no more nuclear testing occurs.
Switch to Chujo and Fukuda hanging out at the Professor's place and they discuss the crafty Nelson's past and Chujo shows Fukuda the strange rubbings from the psychedelic cave. They examine the etched parchment and the word "Mothra/Mosura" seems to be one of the (star) symbols on the etching. Both are unsure what it means (of course... you all know exactly what it means).
MEANWHILE!! Sneaky Nelson has gone back to Infant Island to get his greedy paws on the Shobijin (the dirty bastard). Which of course he does. He and his men kill a lot (A LOT) of Infant Islander Natives taking them. You know you'd think they would have better weapons... the Infant Islanders that is. They could have at least thrown the rocks they are holding busting open the face plates on the Radiation suits... thus exposing them to deadly levels of radiation. But they just kinda advance and get shot. It is kinda sad actually.
What looks like the oldest Infant Islander crawls back to a rather well designed holy area (certainly looks more advanced than they are capable of crafting) and starts calling out "Mothra"... I am not sure if the old man dies here... or if he is the old man from MvG (with the headdress). Mothra is of course behind the wall in the egg form we are all so accustomed to from most movies involving her
SWITCH TO: photos of Nelson (the dirty bastard) with the captured Shobijin (Though they don't look very distressed). Unn oh! Jig is up! Fukuda is busted by his editor for keeping mum about the Infant Island fairies and wants to know why there isn't a piece on it. Fukuda basically feels to expose them would be to possibly hurt them. SO... everyone zipped their lips (Well... cept that one dirty bastard).
So the Fairy sideshow starts with of course Nelson at the helm... but our little Shobijin have a little surprise for everyone. They aren't happy. Matter of fact. They have a song that says it all. If you can understand it. They fly down in a little golden wagon - looking pretty damn smart in those red & maroon outfits with the spiked crowns and the golden armbands. Nelson opens the wagon cage... and the little Peanuts sing. Kicking off with one word, only two men in the crowd will understand... "Mosura" (Mothra - come on work with me here! LOL). So as "mock" native dancers do their "DO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE!" routine in the background and the Shobijin sing their song for Nelson's "ROLISICIAN IDOL!", both Chujo & Fukuda chat about what kind of snake Nelson is and how he even scammed his own government, all of a sudden it dawns on Chujo what they are singing.
ELSEWHERE: I.E. Infant Island the little Shobijin's song resonates across the pacific. The Infant Islanders are performing a ritual dance at the same time the twins are singing. This is only for one purpose. To sing the egg open and birth Mothra. As lightning flashes behind the largest Easter Egg in creation.
At this point Fukuda's partner Michi Hanamura is all up in Nelson's face about wanting an interview with the twins. He says no and Michi puts up a pretty good struggle, fortunately before punches are thrown. In walks Chujo, Fukuda and Chujo's stocky younger brother Shinji Chujo.
Chujo being who he is demands that Nelson release the girls and return them.
Nelson calls them merchandise (what a dirty bastard) and his unnamed business partner calls them them all jealous, after Fukuda points out that everyone (at least the citizens of Japan) is against what they are doing (Though I see it hasn't stopped anyone from paying the ticket price).
Nelson in some weird chemical imbalance moment lets Chujo and the others see the twins. They start speaking at this point (to everyone's surprise) and drop the bomb. Mothra is coming and people are gonna get hurt.
More Infant Island Dancing and prayers this time.
The egg cracks and out comes Larva Mothra.
There is a WICKED COOL! melding of Mothra high above the Infant Island worshipers with an incredible matting to the left and right as well as in between. It is a gorgeous piece when frozen.
Fukuda and Michi ran the story of Nelson's imprisonment of the twins and Nelson and his lackey are at Nitto Press demanding a retraction or there will be an international incident. - suddenly news come of an unidentified object coming in from the South Pacific.
They show Mothra swimming as the girls perform yet another concert... unfortunately a Luxury Liner Orion-Maru is in it's pathway and gets what all human objects get... run down. Though in Mothra's defense, they did get in her way.
Chujo and Fukuda try once more to get Nelson to listen to reason. But of course he and his chubby sniveling sidekick won't budge... and act all indignant about being accused of causing Mothra's march towards Japan.
So the Dynamic Duo try to go up and talk to the twins without permission. They are of course cut off by Nelson's four henchmen. Fukuda sends Chujo up to talk to the girls, while he handles Nelson's men. This is one of my favorite scenes. It was cool watching Fukuda fight, even though he seemed to be goofing off. But he did take on four guys. Kinda cool and unusual for a Kaiju film (especially considering it is a reporter doing it)..
The Shobijin tell Chujo & Fukuda (who rejoins him) there is no way to call off Mothra... essentially... "MOTHRA SMASH!!"
Frankly at this point I think that Chujo should have just snatched the twins and bailed. It isn't like Fukuda couldn't handle the guards (but that would make for a less fun movie - besides... maybe their code of ethics wouldn't allow them to steal - who knows?)
Our dynamic duo turn to Dr. Harada, who for some reason has been developing plastic shields that can even block telepathy... pretty fascinating... but why is he doing that? he suggest building a box out of the stuff to block out the telepathic signals of the twins to Mothra. I understand what they are trying to do here, in protecting Japan (I wonder if they thought Mothra would get confused if she lost the telepathic signal and stop her progression - It never really says).
MOTHRA: Is cruising across the Pacific and is spotted by a military plane. They dispatch Attack Squadron 1 on her and they dump barrels of something burnable on the ocean surface, which is ignited by fighter planes. This is a pretty good scene. Mothra looks really good in the swimming sequences and the Aircraft look pretty sweet sweeping around her. The flames are pretty cool as well. Great scene all together.
Rolisica at this time has taken Nelson's side (SAY WHAT!?!). Basically saying it will defend it's citizen's rights and property (just strikes me as odd that the twins could be considered property... but weren't Japanese women seen as property as well? At least in Old School ways?) - well this is kind of disturbing if this is really suppose to be anything like America. Russia yes... but America?
Once more Chujo and Fakada along with Dr. Harada and his anti-telepathy box try to convince Nelson how wrong he is. Nelson is of course smugly overconfident that Mothra was killed in the bombardment.
Switch to the Dam scene and the return of Mothra. This truly is a very beautiful set. just lots of great detail to this one. Love the boiling water thing as Mothra gets ready to rise to the surface.
Nelson's show gets shut down right in front of Chujo, Fakada and Harada (via a telephone call - It's about time!!!!). Fakada's partner Michi shows up with the news about Dam 3. They already know it is Mothra and rush off to the dam where the workers are seeing the dam splinter and crack.
Nelson gets all pissy as the twins continue to sing for Mothra and sticks them in the anti-telepathy case and prepares to flee with them from Japan.
Mothra's actual rise at the dam and the subsequent breaking of said dam is pretty awesome. Too bad the Damn scene in GvMg couldn't have been this good.
Another great scene is when Fakada risks his life to save a baby on the dam bridge. He is a pretty brave fellow and it is too bad his character never reappeared in any more Godzilla movies (would have been very cool if he had appeared in G:Tokyo S.O.S. alongside Hiroshi Koizumi - though I don't know if Frankie Sakai is even still alive during the time of its filming - does anyone know if he appeared in any other Japanese Sci-Fi Fantasy films?)
Chujo's younger brother decides to take matters into his own hands and rescue the twin fairies and takes a few lumps for doing so. Brave kid. Cause I think at his age I would have found Nelson to be extremely scary.
He puts up a decent enough of a fight for a little kid, but they outnumber him. Meanwhile his older brother is all kinds of concerned about him.
Rolisican Government finally requests that Nelson renounce ownership of the twins for the sake of good relations between Rolisica and Japan. (Was it ever said where Rolisica is suppose to be located? Since in the movie world of Godzilla. It technically is a real country. Kind of like how Sergina from GtTHM is suppose to be a real country too).
At this point the Japanese police move in with Fakada right behind them, when Chujo shows up looking for his little brother. The cops barely do a once over of the building and leave the same room that poor Chujo's younger brother is laying in (albeit tied up, gagged and hidden under a bunch of stuff). The concern of Shin'ichi for his younger brother Shinji is pretty apparent in this scene (I wonder why he is taking care of his younger brother?). Of course that dirty bastard Nelson has slipped away.
MOTHRA'S RAMPAGE: This is a great series of miniatures and an excellent showing of Mothra. The mix of miniatures and people running is pretty smooth. Some of the best I have seen in a Kaiju film. The aerial view shots from above Mothra are awesome. The miniatures and scenery are nearly flawless.
One of the best shots for Larva Mothra happens here. The one of her looking truly massive near power lines. Just utterly cool!
The scenes of the miniature Military vehicles zooming through town are very well done. They just zoom all over the place.
The military gets walked on by Mothra in most of these scenes and one tank with the operator in it has a building fall on them.
In the chaos of citizens trying to escape Nelson and his lead lackey are forced to find a different way back to Rolisica.
Mothra meanwhile has spotted Tokyo Tower and heads for it (nice looking miniature of it too boot!).
There are some great shots of real blended with Mothra footage snaking her way across the background amid bombs and smoke. Looks very sweet.
There are lots of these kind of shots. the one of the citizens running while only the Tokyo Tower shows with flashes of explosions and smoke seen, though Mothra is obscured from view.
Then of course the now famous scene of Mothra climbing the tower occurs. It bends under the strain of the massive Kaiju in a very cool display. The foreground is nicely done and only adds to the massive size of her.
Fakada and Michi arrive and see Mothra at Tokyo Tower as she starts to spin her cocoon.
Dr. Harada has guessed what is going on with Mothra and that she is preparing to transform into an adult form and stresses how they have to get the twins back to Infant Island.
Chujo and the Nitto Press Editor show up, where Fakada and Michi are. They guess that Nelson has ran for an Haneda Airport.
Rolisica has offered to send support. Oh... I see. now that the big bad monster is running rampant, your afraid it is going to come knocking at your door. But at least the Atomic Heat Cannon of the Rolisicans will come in handy.
Mothra is finally in the cacoon and the Atomic Heat Cannon arrives (I wonder if it was developed in part due to the experiments they conducted on Infant Island? -- almost comes full circle... almost)
Everyone is of course terrified what will happen if Mothra hatches... and they kind of deserve it.
The massiveness of the two AHCannon is truly impressive.
The firing of it is even cooler!. This will certainly set the standard for later super energy weapons in the future).
ANYHOW: Mothra hatches and shows just how destructive a giant wing creature can be as the city and military objects are hurled through the air by the wind velocity of her colorful wings (almost serves'em right! They should have forced Nelson to give up the twins when they had the chance - back with Mothra was still a Larva and they knew what it was and where it came from). Now it is on... fortunately... It's goal is now Rolisica and Japan has suffered enough damage. (I still would love to know where the fiction country of Rolisica would be located in the "World of Godzilla").
Switching back to Nelson and his gang. The radio tells us that Mothra has annihilated the Rolisican air force (unn oh! Danger! DANGER!). Now there is an announcement that Nelson is a wanted man (Serves the dirty bastard right!).
Our resident Prof and the two reporters fly to Rolisica on the request to help deal with the situation (Due to the fact that the twin beauties trust them). they hear that New Kirk City has been attacked. New Kirk City? New York City? hmmm. I wonder if the Japanese thought that making the U.S. responsible would garner some sort of American backlash? It is pretty thinly veiled in any case. But still in this fictional world... it isn't the U.S. Course I am of a mind that they should simply re-dub it and just call a spade a spade. I mean it isn't like there are not people in American who would do the crap that Nelson has done. Of course I highly doubt America would honestly back a person like Nelson (But that is just me).
The New Kirk City model is pretty damn incredible. Gorgeously expansive (I have some amazing screen captures from this movie that hopefully one day I will be able to post).
Mothra flight in is nicely done.
Of course we switch to the fugitive Nelson and he gets stop by a crowd of Rolisicans and the RPD.
He panics and sees images of the Infant Island Natives he attacked... pulls a gun on the crowd, shoots an officer and gets rightfully gunned down (Though I would have much preferred if he had perished due to proximity to Mothra -- again that is just me).
Nelson is so mean he even takes time to yank the cane from an old man knocking him down (what a dirty bastard).
Clark Nelson (Jerry Ito)'s acting in this scene, runs at nearly over the top. excruciatingly over dramatic, if not kinda funny. In any case a fitting end for this most sinister of bad guys from a Kaiju film. It really can be said that it was wholly his fault this happened and the amount of destruction was completely on his hands (even his accomplices were not as guilty as him).
Nelson's buddies are ushered up some steps (in what almost seems like a scene that will turn into a lynching.
Mothra meanwhile is doing what all big Kaiju do best... wrecking havoc on the hapless citizens of New Kirk City!
I wish they could have done some more slightly above (birds eye view) shots of Mothra flying over NKC. Would have been cool to see a good shot of the nicely constructed city with Mothra hanging over top of it, doing her wind thing. I honestly felt they did a much better job with the Mothra Larva rampage scenes.
Though I have to admit Adult Mothra certainly tears into NKC!
Prof. Chujo, along with reporters Fakada and Michi arrive for the Shobijin and figure out how to draw Mothra's attention. At least throughout this entire film the human characters have been using their brains to deal with the situation. The pacing has been nice with all of these discovery scenes with this entire movie.
So they figure the solution is... ringing bells and a mock up of the Mothra symbol! Yea! for our heroes!
Though they could have just drawn the symbol and released the twins... after all Mothra would have been drawn to them. But I guess it wouldn't have given the bell ringers anything to do.
Mothra of course is still having a grand time causing mayhem and destruction!
Using big yellow Tonka trucks they make the Mothra symbol on an airfield.
Mothra is finally attracted away from NKC... though it you look in the background... the damage doesn't look nearly as extensive as it seems (well you know it is to certain portions of the city. But there are not great plumes of smoke rising anywhere).
Our three heroes release the Shobijin and they are reunited with Mothra finally. They are all giddy happy.
The Shobijin run to Mothra... who promptly takes off for Infant Island.
I have to say though. I honestly don't know why some of the Rolisicans are smiling or happy... can you imagine the amount of taxes they are going to have to pay to? I am sure the Japanese seized the money that Nelson made in Japan before he could get away with it... but I highly doubt that is enough to cover all of the damages done.
The end scene with the mat painting and I believe the animated Mothra flying towards it is ultra-cool! Showing the Infant Islanders and the Shobijin is a nice touch. Great way to close the movie.
This was a well done movie. The human elements are very VERY strong in this. The friendships that are developed along the way are nice. There was not romantic interest in this film, which is kind of disappointing. But from what I have discovered/read, the Japanese were kinda arms length about showing love or kissing (at this time at least culturally - I am not saying they didn't do it.).
The Kaiju elements of this movie are fantastic. Mothra Larva stands out very well in this film. Though Adult Mothra is no slouch.
The miniatures used throughout this film are of great quality and the only complaint I have is when the matchbox cars were kind of swirling about. Everything else was as dead on as this type of special effects would allow.
I think the scenes showing Infant Island were some of my favorite from the film. Would have love to have seen more of the Infant Islanders village and whatever walkway they had leading to the Mothra temple.
Damn fine movie. Definitely one of the better Giant Monster Movies.
MORAL OF THE STORY? Don't steal island chicks that have big bugs as guards... Cause you could lose more than just your roof!
Hope you all enjoyed!
This was a lot of fun to review... and a little over a year ago I actually disliked Mothra and dispised the Shobijin... funny how things change like that!