Rebirth of Mothra (1996)

Class: User
Author: Donny Winter
Score: (3.5/5)
September 18th, 2006 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

After the Heisei Godzilla series ended with the King of the Monster's death in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995), Toho decided to pursue their second most popular kaiju in its own film----Mothra. The film in Japanese was logically titled, Mothra, while in America, it was titled as Rebirth of Mothra. Most original Mothra fans are not used to this film, because they believe that it strays from Mothra's original character, a protector of only her island and people. This movie homes in on her kind and benevolent side, and it largely focuses on Mothra's character as well, which is a very good point to this film.

The plot of this film is quite original. It does not seem to steal any of the ideas that were dished out in Mothra (1961) or Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992). On Infant Island, Mothra sits upon her throne, ready to finally reproduce after living a very long life. Shortly after, a logging company on business in Hokkaido, accidentally discovers an ancient rock. The person in charge of the logging facility in that region investigates and eventually removes a small piece of metal from the rock's surface, and takes it home to his daughter, Wakaba, as a gift. The removed piece of metal arouses the attention of Mothra's priestesses Moll and Lora----called the Elias. They summon their insectile steed, Fairy Mothra, to take them to Hokkaido in order to investigate this unusual accident. It is revealed by them, that the small piece of metal removed from the rock, was called the Seal of Elias, a device that possessed the ability to harness universal energy which was created by their ancestors, to lock away the demonic Desghidorah, the very creature that made the dinosaurs go extinct, and left the surface of the planet Mars a barren wasteland. Eventually, Moll and Lora discover that Belvera----their evil sister, stole the seal from Wakaba, and they eventually retrieve it, after she manages to release the vile ancient kaiju from its dungeon, hoping that it would absorb the life force contained with in the planets flora (therefore eventually destroying humanity). While all this happens, the Goto family becomes involved. They aid the Elias by keeping the seal hidden from Belvera. In response to the threat of Desghidorah, the Elias eventually summon the elderly Mothra to fend off Desghidorah. While that happens, Mothra's child----Mothra Leo also emerges, confident and ready to help its mother. After a long battle, Mothra dies, saving her child from Desghidorah as she sinks into the depths of the sea. After witnessing its mother's death, Mothra Leo swims to Yaku Island, hoping to gain the power of the Ancient Tree of Life. After gaining new powers, Mothra Leo metamorphoses into the adult Mothra Leo, a powerful Mothra that holds off Desghidorah long enough for the Elias to seal him away again. In the process, Belvera's steed----Gargaru is destroyed and she manages to escape. Mothra Leo repairs the environmental damage caused by the rampage, the Elias bid farewell to the Goto family, and they take to the skies with Mothra Leo, returning to Infant Island.

In this film, Mothra's reputation of the "Savior of the World", like in Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992) is re-established. This is portrayed very well, giving Mothra a very emotional character. This makes Mothra more interesting than she is in most of her other movies, her character is expanded, and tweaked just a little. Probably the most emotional part of this film was the elderly Mothra's death scene. After saving her child, she slowly drowns into the sea, while her child watches in horror, attempting to help her. It is a real tear jerker, and it is probably one of the best kaiju death scenes ever to be displayed on film.

Another notable thing in this film is Mothra's new powers. The elderly Mothra possessed the same powers as its Heisei predecessor with some new little abilities. Even the larva Mothra Leo receives new abilities as well----energy charged silken spray, a chest beam, and a camouflaging technique. This is only a small fraction of Mothra's new abilities, during the final battle between Death Ghidorah and the Mothra Leo adult, at least a dozen beamy moves are used by the insect Goddess. Original Mothra fans often do not really like this Mothra because of its sheer power in regards of its numerous amount of beams and energized abilities, but the fans of this film find it to be an interesting addition to Mothra's mystic power.

The nemesis in this film----Desghidorah (translated to Death Ghidorah in English) is probably one of the scariest, demon-like Ghidorah's to ever hit the screen. He is revealed as a demon from space that goes around siphoning the floral life out of various worlds. When he came to Earth, he was fortunately sealed by the ancient Mothra's and the Elias' ancestors before he could completely destroy it like he did to Mars. This kaiju really displays himself as a dark and fiendish creature, and is actually the first Ghidorah ever to walk on four legs.

This all leads up to the kaiju battles in the film. It takes up a good deal of the movie, the first battle with Desghidorah was fairly long. The kaiju were used very well, except that I wish they had a little more tooth and claw battling, it was mostly a beam fest. But still, it did not take away from the battle's emotion and sheer struggle between the kaiju.

The human aspect of this film was rather weak. The Goto family had poor character development and were not really focused upon. Most people actually find the children---Taiki and Wakaba to be very annoying, since through the entire film they are whining and arguing with each other. Which is almost the exact same thing in regards of the parents. Another annoyance that I find in this film, is that there is no city destruction at all, and no military battle whatsoever. It takes a lot of the human aspect of this film away, which is probably the lowest point of this movie.

Despite the flaws in the human aspect, the real characters that steal the show here is the Elias----Moll, Lora and Belvera. For the first time ever, Mothra's priestesses are displayed with separate personalities. Having a mind of their own. Their characters are developed quite nicely, and we get to see how each of them looks at the situation at hand. Moll, wants to save the world from Death Ghidorah even if it means taking her life, Lora, doesn't want Mothra to fight and die in the process yet wants the world to be saved, and Belvera wants to use Desghidorah as a weapon to destroy humanity, for she fears that they will eventually destroy the Elias. Belvera's evil laugh is very amusing, she reminds me very much of the Xilian second in command in Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), indeed a great aspect to her character. What is interesting to note though, is that how the Elias are virtually against Belvera, it is displayed that they still love each other, and respect each other as sisters. Megumi Kobayashi (Moll), Sayaka Yamaguchi (Lora) and Aki Hano (Belvera) did a wonderful job in regards of acting, and performing the part of their characters.

Probably the greatest thing about this film is its musical score, composed by Toshiyuki Watanabe. It is perhaps one of the best scores in the entire Heisei series. The various themes for Mothra, such as the battle march when Mothra first appears to battle Desghidorah is very catchy, and memorable. Another neat aspect to this score, is the Mothra Songs, both new and original. The original Mothra Song is preformed in almost a latin beat from the way it sounds, making it very interesting and addicting to listen to. Plus the other vocal performances by Megumi Kobayashi and Sayaka Yamaguchi in: "The Song of Prayer" and "Mothraleo" are very beautiful, and my personal favorites when it comes to Mothra songs. It is a pity that some of the Rebirth of Mothra vocals were not used in more recent films such as Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003), they would have made great additions.

This film may not be a classic like the original Mothra, but it certainly is a memorable and enjoyable one to watch over and over. Also, since it was originally intended to attract a younger audience, it would be a great film to introduce to kids. Rebirth of Mothra is certainly a nice addition to Mothra's peace/environmental character, and hopefully it will continue to flaunt its theme in regards of protecting the environment.