Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

Class: Staff
Author: Alexander Smith
Score: (4.5/5)
April 2nd, 2007 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

Godzilla's finest hour, it is. This film had some of the best effects and one of the best musical scores of the time. I still have my 2002 Classic Media DVD, and I highly enjoy it. This undoubtedly my favorite Godzilla film of all.

A gigantic egg washes up on the shore of Japan. The anomaly is claimed by Happy Enterprises (run by Jira Torahata), who want to use the mysterious object to attract tourists. The greedy businessman and co- founder of Happy enterprises, Kumayama is visited by the tiny six-inch fairies: the Shobijin, who are the psychic links to egg's monstrous mother: Mothra. The Shobijin attempt to convince Kumayama to return the egg, to no avail. The next day, radiation tests are performed in the area near the egg's landing... an enormous sedimentary basin created by a ravaging storm. Godzilla emerges from the soft ground and begins to rampage throughout Japan. The Shobijin are visited by their friends Yoka and Ichiro Sakai on Infant Island, for they want Mothra to fight against Godzilla and save humanity. The islanders disagree, recalling the atomic horrors that befell the island due to humankind's ignorant recklessness. Nevertheless, the benevolent Mothra reluctantly agrees, despite her close proximity to death. Yoka and Ichiro return to Osaka as Godzilla continues his malicious march. When all seems lost, Mothra and the Shobijin finally arrive. The Imago Mothra fights Godzilla valiantly until her death. The Shobijin try desperately to get the egg to hatch, and succeed. The two larvae drive away Godzilla, and the day is saved.

The acting in this film is performed fairly well. Yuriko Hoshi puts in a good performance as Yoka. Especially touching is her speech about how not all people in the world are evil, and that good as well as bad are being killed. Kenji Sahara puts in an excellent performance as Torahata, his slickness giving him a "slimey" impression. Equally wonderful is Yoshibumi Tajima's performance as Kumayama. The development, on the other hand, is very slow, and by the end, no changes have taken place in anybody's character and personality.

Now, onto the monsters. Godzilla certainly looks good here, and his entrance into the film is still convincing and chilling today. He pops out of the ground, shaking himself off from the dust and dirt. His atomic ray is detailed, not like the next film, where all the money was spent on King Ghidorah's gravity beams (reverting Godzilla's breath weapon into the "aerosol spray can" effect). The spines shimmer a deep blue when his trademark weapon is fired. As for Mothra, she looks like an actual insect here, not like her "plush toy" Leo form we see about 32 years later. The larvae have a fluid, organic effect to their walk, slinking along as they move about. The webs the larvae shoot have never looked better than this, aesthetically silkish. Eiji Tsuburaya's special effects are their best here.

Akira Ifukube's score is excellent. He perfects most of the famous pieces from the original Godzilla (1954) here, with an ultra dark and menacing sound for Godzilla's theme, a beautifully redone Mothra chant (improved from the original). The orchestral theme for Mothra is also quite beautiful and haunting, most effectively utilized when the Imago Mothra dies, decrementing and fading slowly into Godzilla's theme.

Overall, I could sum it up in these three words: Godzilla's Finest Hour. I would recommend this film to any monster movie lover, especially G-fans.