Rebirth of Mothra I (1996)
Remember when you first saw the Star Wars trilogy? For those of us who grew up in the 1970s, the first three movies were thrilling, exciting and often disturbing. They were for adults, despite the sci-fi underpinnings, and dealt with the very adult themes of death, honor and love. Luke killing his father, Lando's betrayal, Leia in that slave girl outfit...
Remember in 2001, when you and your Jedi knight outfit stood in line for hours to see The Phantom Menace? You were so hyped, so pumped, so ready to relive some of those memories from your childhood experience with the Star Wars saga. You just knew that this movie, made with a zillion dollars worth of special effects and English actors with cool accents, would rock.
And then the movie started. And ended, and you felt robbed and cheated. Too many little kids in X-Box racers, too many blubbering fish-men, too much effort to shoehorn all the characters from the first series into this movie. And then there was Jar-Jar Binks. Clearly, George had made a conscious decision to make The Phantom Menace a kids' movie. And it stunk, stunk bad. Unless you were seven, and then you loved it.
Well, I got the exact same feeling as I watched Rebirth of Mothra I for the first time. I felt jobbed. Mothra had always been one of my least favorite monsters (she was a moth, for God's sake), but I appreciated Toho's attempts to make her a serious creature.
With the Godzilla series still going strong, and the upsurging Gamera raking in lots of yen, Toho Studios wisely looked to expand their market share by introducing another monster series. Mothra had always been a fan favorite in Japan, so it was a natural pick. She had been last seen in 1992's Godzilla versus Mothra II, which was a good moneymaker. Whereas the new Gamera series was a return to the dark, violent, adult movies of the 1950s, the new Mothra series would be aimed at a much younger demographic. In 1996, Rebirth of Mothra I was released in Japan to rave reviews from preschool kids. You see, they had made the franchise into a kiddy sugar-fest. There's nothing threatening or scary about this movie, and you can't help but feel all warm and fuzzy at the end. There would follow parts II and III in a few years.
The movie is directed by Okihiro Yoneda, one of Toho's in-house directors. This is the first movie he ever directed, though he was first assistant director for 1991's Godzilla versus King Ghidrah and assistant director for the great 1985 epic Ran. He was undoubtedly under orders from Toho to make the movie suck, so I can't hurt him. He hurts enough.
The special effects are the unholy spawn of Koichi Kawakita. This is a familiar name for Godzilla fans as he was the director of special effects for all of the Heisei series of Godzilla movies in the 1990s. He also did the FX for 1994's Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon, which was cool. Apparently, when he worked on this movie he was addicted to heroin...
The human cast will be easy to remember, by any standards, as there are only seven cast members with speaking parts. These are a family of four and three supernatural sisters. Following a tradition established long ago, I will try and assign easier-to-remember English names for the often-confusing Japanese names. As this movie focuses on a remarkably dysfunctional family with two kids, I'll equate them to the Simpsons. As well, following a well-traveled path laid in past movie reviews featuring Mothra and her fairies, I'll refer to the twins as Mary-Kate and Ashley, after that annoyingly cute pair of sisters that is always on TV here. The Evil Bitch Sister Belvera is just going to remain Belvera. I'll detail them as they appear.
Besides, you're not here for the humans, are you? You're here for the monsters. In this movie you get a bunch, though just three main ones. I will detail them as they appear. Keep in mind that this is kiddy fare, so even the bad monsters are bad in a cartoonish way.
This movie didn't make it to America until 1999, when it was released by Columbia TriStar home video. For this review I will be using a VHS tape, a former video store rental copy. It's dubbed into English and has a run time of 106 minutes. This will be a quick review, I'm sure. Despite the theme, there is probably not as much here to pick on as in a 1950s movie.
And now on to our story...
We first have to make perfectly clear that this movie is a stand-alone effort, without any attempt to link it to the continuity established by the Godzilla series. Meaning that in the universe seen here, none of the monster rampages of the past forty years have taken place. Even the original 1961 Mothra movie never took place. No one in this universe has seen any giant moths or anything and their reactions show this clearly.
The opening credits go by quick, just the title card and then the actors' names in English over the opening scenes. Nothing special here.
We open with some scenes of the not-so-tranquil Goto family. Dad, "Homer", is a manager of a big logging corporation who never is at home. He does care about his family, however, and does the best he can. His wife, "Marge", is a frazzled homemaker who wishes her husband was home more. They have two kids, "Bart" and "Lisa", who are constantly at each other's throats and turning mom's hair gray. All in all, a typical suburban couple if there ever was one. The dubbing for these people is terrible.
Homer Simpson (Mr. Goto) is played by thirtysomething Kenjiro Nashimoto. This is his only movie role, which is surprising because he's not too bad in this movie. He's tall and lanky and has B-grade leading man potential, certainly no worse than one of the lesser Baldwin brothers.
Marge Simpson (Mrs. Goto) is played by 35-year old actress Hitomi Takahashi. Takahashi is the only "professional" actress in this entire movie. She has been acting since the early 1970s, but has mostly been in TV series the last decade or so. Sci-fi fans might remember her from 2001's Ultraman Cosmos: First Contact. She's a fairly pretty woman, with a slim figure and an ability to do many physical stunts herself. She has very cute hair but a distracting overbite.
Bart Simpson (Taiki Goto) is played by Kazuki Futami, who is about ten-years old. This is his only movie role. He's just your typical plucky fifth-grader with a bad haircut, but thankfully does not wear short shorts. His voice dub sounds almost exactly like Spongebob Squarepants, and I'm not kidding.
Lisa Simpson (Wakaba Goto) is played by Maya Fujisawa, who is about seven-years old. This is also her only movie role. She's not as smart as the real Lisa Simpson, but very cute. Like all seven-year olds, she's manipulative and lives to get her brother in trouble.
Homer runs "Houkoku, Limited", a logging conglomerate, based out of Tokyo but currently working up-country in Hokkaido. They use Caterpillar tractors and, most amazingly, use the Windows operating system. In just about every movie ever made, Japanese or American, all the OS we see are Apples. Why this is the case in this movie is unclear, though it's a refreshing change. It's also clear that Toho signed a contract with Mitsubishi Motors, as we see several company Mitsu Montero SUVs featured throughout the movie.
Homer's company is currently logging the hell out of the northern island of Hokkaido, far from his family in Tokyo. He's supposed to be home from the field tonight, but he has to work late. Marge is understandably pissed, though she understands that he has to bring home the yen. BTW, for being the manager of a major corporation, the Simpson family doesn't exactly live in the lap of luxury. Maybe it's all in stock options.
This day there is a problem at a worksite, on the side of a forested mountain, and Homer is called up to have a look-see. It seems the workers have uncovered a stone slab with some ancient mystical design on it. Inset in the center is a golden medallion, about the size of a silver dollar. It's a shiny gold with some crazy swirls and patterns on it.
Homer, being Homer, grabs a screwdriver and pries it off!!! Dumb. The ground shakes a bit and ominous rumblings are heard. All this, however, fails to elicit much response from the workmen, who blithely go on their way after it stops. Have these guys ever watched a horror movie? Don't they know that you should never mess with buried mystical medallions?
Ok, now for the supernatural crap. Homer prying loose the seal is sensed by the "Mothra sisters", who we've known since 1961's Mothra. They are still on Infant Island, which apparently exists in this universe afterall. As everyone is so surprised to see Mothra later, we can assume that modern humans are unaware of the island.
These three girls are still the guardians of Mothra and apparently the last of their kind alive. Whether or not they are immortal or just alone is unclear. They are very small, maybe just six-inches tall, in keeping with the premise established in the earlier Mothra movies. They are Belvera, Lora and Moll. Lora and Moll are the same as the other twin sets we've seen before, but the older Evil Bitch Sister Belvera is new to this movie.
Belvera is played by 28-year old Aki Hano. Other than the three Mothra movies in the 1990s, she has done little work on film. This is a shame, as she's a very attractive woman. In this movie she's going for the whole pseudo-Goth punk rocker look, kind of like a Japanese Siouxie. Her English dubber sounds like the Wicked Witch of the West from every high school production of The Wizard of Oz. I like the way she snarls, though, it makes me excited... [Editor Pam: You're a sick, sick puppy, Nate.]
Evil Bitch Sister Belvera.
"Ashley Olsen" (Lora) is played by 16-year old Sayaka Yamaguchi. A fairly famous pop singer nowadays, and a fashion model, she was a young up-and-comer at the time this movie was made. She would reprise the role of Lora for the next Mothra movie, but not for the third. She has a so-so face, but some very nice legs.
"Mary-Kate Olsen" (Moll) is played by 19-year old actress Megumi Kobayashi. Another popular singer in Japan, these three Mothra movies are her only screen credits, not even any TV work. She's considerably taller than Ashley, and certainly acts more mature, though she's not as cute.
Mary-Kate and Ashley are the Good Sisters (of course) and Belvera is the Evil Bitch Sister. Why Belvera turned so evil is not clear. Perhaps she's just going through a phase, or maybe she is mad at the other two for hogging all the rice crispy treats. All three wear outlandish clothes, inspired by the original Mothra fairy twins from the 1960s movies. They are in no way sexy outfits, though Ashley's legs do show quite a bit in some scenes. And, yes, Lora and Moll are not twins, persay, but I'll refer to them as such for the sake of clarity.
Now the seal being broken causes quite a stir, and the girls set out to investigate. Belvera goes off on her own. The twins run to Mothra, who is sitting on an altar at the top of a wide staircase. She's perched on top of a large egg, almost the size of her body. I hope that she didn't give birth to that, it looks painful. I will detail Mothra later when she has some action. The girls run up to the stairs. Note that they appear to be tiny compared to the staircase, making us wonder who built the stairs and altar. Clearly it must be a long-gone race of much larger folk. In the Godzilla series, there were human inhabitants of Infant Island, but we don't see any here.
The twins make some mumbo jumbo and a small Moth-lete detaches itself from Mothra and flies to them. The little Moth is a cute miniature version of the adult Mothra and will serve as their transport for the duration of the movie. They hop on its back and fly off to Japan via a horrible bluescreen effect.
Realizing that his wife will probably put poison ivy in his underwear if he doesn't come home soon, Homer catches the last flight home to Tokyo, showing that indeed he is a caring dad and a loving husband. He also has the medallion, which he wants to give to Lisa as a present. That's nice, always think of the kids first. They find a chain and slip it over her head as she sleeps. Nice gesture, dad, too bad you have just cursed your daughter with the Seal of Ultimate Evil.
So the twins now make it to Hokkaido to where the seal was. Some exposition from them tells us that some big nasty monster is imprisoned inside the mountain and the seal was the only thing keeping it contained. They fear that it was Belvera who took it, and she'll try and use the monster as her slave.
Belvera seems to know where the seal is, as she visits the Simpson house that night. How she figured this out is unclear, perhaps the seal gives out some sort of signal. She's riding a nifty winged Dragon beast and looks like she just stepped out of every anime fanboy's wet dream. The Dragon is not huge, maybe two-feet long, about the comparative size of a horse to a normal human rider for Belvera. It shoots fireballs out of its mouth and purrs like a kitten when stroked. Really.
Belvera is a malicious bitch, with no concern for human life. She takes the seal from Lisa, and puts her under a mind spell. In the morning, Lisa levitates out of bed and beats the crap out of Bart! That's cool. She looks just like Linda Blair from The Exorcist here, with the same vacant stare and demonic eyes. Bart runs off to school terrified, but doesn't tell anyone. Probably embarrassed that he got served by his sister.
Meanwhile, Homer gets called back to Hokkaido to deal with a new crisis. It appears that a 60 Minutes-type of magazine show is doing a scathing expose on his company and their plans to destroy the stone formation that they unearthed. The reporters and the environmentalists think it's a national treasure and are appalled at the corporation's attempts to destroy it. Marge is pissed, but has to let him go back.
After school, Bart sneaks up to the window and sees Lisa sitting on the couch, still in her coma and pigging out on junk food and watching TV. He's surprised by Belvera on her mount, who chases him away from the window. Belvera mind-sics a nearby German Shepherd on Bart, forcing him to climb a tree to escape. She pins Bart in the tree and laughs and gloats at his predicament. This will be a common theme for this movie, Belvera trying to kill humans. It's presented in a comical way, however, and she never actually succeeds in killing anyone. But she still tries to do it, and it's a little disturbing in a kiddie movie if you think about it.
When Bart complains about Lisa, Belvera tells him that she hates her sisters, too. Again, we wonder why there always has to be a dark seed sibling in these movies. Why can't they all be nice and cute? Belvera heads back to the house, leaving Bart trapped in the tree with the barking dog.
Just then, perhaps drawn by the same energy exuded by the seal that Belvera sensed, the twins on the little Moth arrive in the area. They see Bart and chase off the dog. The twins introduce themselves and tell him not to worry, which he blows. Bart slips and falls to the ground, but just before he smacks down, the twins levitate him with their Spooky Mind Powers and set him gently down on his feet. Suitably impressed, Bart joins up with them. This Bart is something else, he has just been attacked and saved by several tiny girls on flying creatures and he seems to barely bat an eye. I guess he has been playing Final Fantasy VII way too much.
So, Bart sneaks back to the window to have a peek. Hmmm...Lisa is still on the couch, and his mom Marge is lying behind the couch, gagged and hogtied with an electrical cord. I guess that Lisa did it, while Belvera was controlling her. In the coming action, we get numerous shots of Marge moaning and squealing as she's all tied up, perhaps showing the director's proclivity for some weird Asian bondage fetish. Belvera is opening beer cans and watching TV, including a show about the rock formation in Hokkaido. She smiles deviously when she sees the picture of the rock.
Bart tries to sneak into the house, but Belvera busts him. The twins and the little Moth come to his rescue, which opens a furious fight between the sisters in the house. Bart gets strafed numerous times, but the main fight is between the little people.
Basically, for about the next ten minutes we get the two opposing little flying creatures zipping around blasting at each other with their rays, doing incredible damage to the house. The entire sequence of the battle in the Simpson house is rather well done, if overly long. The "dogfight" is well-developed, but scuttled by horrendously bad bluescreening. The dubbers also filled the soundtrack with endless squeals and gasps from the girls, and grunts and panting from Bart, all of which are very distracting. BTW, no one heard all this noise and called the cops? City people...
The whole thing plays out like a Hellcat versus a Zero. The Dragon, heavily armored and armed but slow, plays the Hellcat, and the Moth, nimble and quick, but lightly armed and unarmored, plays the Zero.
With predictable results, eventually the Moth jinks the wrong way and takes a solid hit from the Dragon. Spinning down to the floor, the Moth is badly hurt. The twins jump off and float to the ground unhurt.
Bart gets the Dragon in a butterfly net (how ironic) and is rewarded by being pulled around the house like a Sylvester and Tweety cartoon. Finally free, Belvera calls it a day, blasting out a window and off into the sky. She's headed to Hokkaido to the rock formation where the seal was found. Lisa recovers quickly from her mind control, and mom and her do a big hug fest.
So, the twins make all the necessary introductions to the mom and daughter, both of whom take it in stride more than one would expect. The problem is that the little Moth is hurt and cannot fly for some time. So to get to Hokkaido to fix the problem, they have to rely on Japan Airlines.
While Marge arranges that, the twins tell them what the seal is. It's the "Seal of Elias", and it locks in a horrible monster called "DesGhidrah". I will detail it later when it appears, but its history is very similar to the legendary King Ghidrah of Godzilla fame. It was a space monster that wandered around the universe sucking the life out of planets. Millions of years ago it came to our solar system, first landing on Mars. It sucked that planet dry, leaving it in its present condition, and then came to Earth.
DesGhidrah came to earth 65 million years ago, and killed off the dinosaurs. Mary-Kate and Ashley's ancestors fought the beast and imprisoned it in that rock. By the Simpsons' reaction to all this, we can 100% confirm that there are no giant monsters in this timeline.
So, the Simpson family is now on a plane bound for Hokkaido to rescue Homer. They have the twins posing as dolls, wearing what I will assume are some of Lisa's doll clothes. They seem to fit them pretty well, though... The little Moth they just hold in their hands and pet like its some sort of plush toy that moves. In our post 9/11 world, they could have never got these aboard in America.
In a great bit, a stewardess asks Bart what his pet moth is named. Bart just stammers, "Uhh, Uhh...". The stewardess makes one of those smiles like, "Oh, poor kid, must be retarded." And leaves. It's priceless to see.
And so now everyone in our cast is at the mountain site. Marge, the kids and the twins arrive in a nifty Mitsubishi Lancer sedan (more product placement), just in time to see Homer be mentally taken over by Belvera.
Belvera mind-controls Homer to get him to destroy the rock formation so that the monster can be released. So Homer, looking all glassy-eyed, is now driving a bulldozer up the hill towards the rock formation. In the scoop are a number of boxes of dynamite. Belvera on her Dragon is hovering above, cackling and laughing.
The dozer hits the rocks and grinds to a stop. Homer falls out and rolls down the hill, smacking along a gravel pit in a flop that I'm sure the actor paid for later in bruises and contusions. The Dragon shoots a flamer at the TNT, causing it to explode in a nifty fireball. This sets off even more of the titanic explosions that Toho is known for, as it seems that the entire mountain is bursting up. Huge, gas-fueled explosions blossom and hunks of rock and dirt shower down around the area. It's an impressive display, but we wonder where the combustible fuel for the rolling fireballs is coming from.
Down below, there is chaos as debris rains over the worksite. Everyone, reporters and workers alike, flee for their lives. Only Marge and the kids remain. Watch as one guy jumps into the back seat of a station wagon as it races off, he nearly falls out. That's a funny stuntman. Hmmm...the wagon is also a Mitsubishi, looks like a wagon version of the Lancer.
Forgot to mention something about the seal. Apparently it's able to harness some sort of free energy which the wielder can use at his or her discretion. Belvera uses it to zap the mountain some more, blowing it open even more. While Belvera admires her handiwork, she is buzzed by a kite (!!!) flown by Bart!!! Even worse, Mary-Kate and Ashley are hanging onto the kite yelling at Belvera to return the seal!!! Craziness.
They smack into the Dragon (!!!), unseating Belvera, who falls into a tree. The seal is dropped in the collision. The twins slide down the kite string to the ground and retrieve the seal. Belvera just laughs and commands DesGhidrah to rise! Hmmm...I thought only the bearer of the seal could control the monster. As she says this, Ashley has the seal, so what gives? Maybe whoever first unleashed the monster while having the seal retains control forever, despite not physically having the seal anymore? Very confusing. And why did the twins have to slide down the string? They have the power of telekinesis, why can't they just levitate themselves?
So, the forest is still exploding and rocks are raining down everywhere. Marge abandons the children to go running to look for dad. Mother of the year! She finds him at the bottom of the hill, now himself again, but badly bruised and dazed. The two of them stumble off into the forest to escape.
Meanwhile, Lisa and Bart head off in another direction, stumbling into the forest as well, being led by the twins on the Moth. The Moth was revived by the power of the seal, I guess, because it is fine now. Then they do the single most dumbass thing they could do. They give the seal back to Lisa!!! They tell her to safeguard it for them. Lisa. The seven-year old. The girl who has already lost it once. The Seal of Ultimate Evil. Dumbasses.
Understandably, the kids are worried about their parents. The twins zip off to locate them, which they do and tell them to head this way to the kids. This is Homer's first sight of the twins and the Moth and he's comically flabbergasted. It's Marge, now a pro at all this, who clues him in.
The twins' directions about how to get to the kids are very unclear, apparently, as we see them wandering through a gulch shouting their kids' names. BTW, the terrain here is very rugged, and Marge is wearing flats. I hope she got paid a lot of money for this role, because she has got to be sore.
Meanwhile, the mountainside continues to explode. Released from its underground prison, the hideous monster DesGhidrah emerges. As the name might imply, DesGhidrah is an updated and 300% tougher version of the classic uber-monster King Ghidrah. In this universe, this is the only appearance of such a beast.
Physically, it's a carbon copy of Ghidrah, with its stats being a rather familiar 50-meters tall, a wingspan of 80 meters, and 75,000 tons heavy. It has the usual assortment of Fire Beams from its three heads, along with a few other tricks.
In its initial post-freedom stage, DesGhidrah cannot yet fly. It has to suck up enough earth energy to fully revive. I assume its wings have atrophied from so many millennia unused. I also assume that to suck said energy, it has to incinerate the surrounding foliage. Perhaps this releases the energy, who knows.
Clearly, the Simpsons, the twins and the little Moth are woefully outmatched now. They have to call in some serious back-up, and as we can all guess, that would be Mothra. The twins debate this course of action, Ashley more adamant and Mary-Kate more troubled. It seems that Mothra is old and still very weak from giving birth (?) and might not survive a battle. Despite this, a Mothra at 50% is still their best hope against DesGhidrah. I think we can all see that it will be a suicide mission. We also learn here that 65 million years ago, there were many Mothras, and they defeated the monster then. Now this Mothra is the last one.
And how do you call Mothra? Why, you sing a catchy pop song, of course. As with all the other Mothra movies, the twins have the power to summon the beast with song. And so we have my giant monster movie chainsawed open and an MTV-style music video wedged right in the middle. Kill me. Both of these actresses are pop stars in real life, so the song itself is not too shabby. What sucks is the techno-disco background full of shimmering and swirling lights. Kill me, again. [Editor Pam: Could this necessity to summon Mothra by song indicate that Mothra is so conceited that a simple request for help isn't good enough? I mean, when your house is on fire and you call the fire department, you don't have to sing for several minutes to get them to come. And since now that I think about it, it's Mothra's house, or rather planet, that's in danger, you'd think she would see the need to do whatever she can to help without all the elaborate ceremony.]
Let me check the counter. Damn, this steaming pile is only half over...
Back on Infant Island, Mothra hears their song and comes a'flapping. This version of Mothra is very similar to the Mothra seen in her last appearance in 1992. The stats are 25-meters long, a 50-meter wingspan and a light weight of 6,000 tons. She's armed with Lasers in her antennae, and some nifty Lightning Bolts from her wings, amongst other talents. Unlike the bad puppet-on-a-string effects that were in previous movies, this Mothra flaps her wings in a mostly natural lifelike way. Clearly, this is going to be a tough fight for Mothra. She's giving up close to 70,000 tons and a lot of firepower. To survive, she will have to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
Ok, first let's reconnect with the humans. It's now fully dark with a full moon. They still haven't found each other, mom and dad are still out somewhere in the forest, and the kids are alone wandering around themselves. So, the twins just left two small children alone, in the dark, in the deep woods, for freakin' hours?
Anyway, now we get us a monster bash. Mothra comes in low at DesGhidrah, who is still land-bound but growing stronger by the minute. Mothra opens up with her antennae Lasers and wing Lightning, scoring numerous hits on DesGhidrah. I always hated the old 1970s Godzilla movie fights that rarely had any beam weapons hit, only near-misses exploding the ground around them. Here, the beams connect and do damage. Oh yeah, Mothra is dealing the wood here, blasting the much bigger monster repeatedly as a stirring marching song plays. Hmmm...but Mothra is so small, can she really defeat this huge monster?
Err...no. Remember when I said that to win Mothra had to stay nimble and quick? Well, she eventually gets too close, and is too slow to jink out of the way, and gets bit by one of DesGhidrah's heads. The bite sizzles like it has acid for spit and Mothra has to blast her way out of the grip. Ouch, Mothra crashes to the ground badly wounded.
As momma Mothra hits the dirt, back on Infant Island the baby Mothra in the egg feels a disturbance in the force. The egg starts to pulsate and you just know that it's going to hatch any second now. The twins sense this also and are upset because it is not yet ready to hatch, but it has to come save its mom.
To help it hatch the girls sing another song!!!! Arg...must control urge to shoot self... The girls sing and the egg busts apart. The Mothra larva pops out, looking all gross and slimy here.
The larva is 25-meters long and weighs about 3,000 tons. It has that goofy Spitting Web thing going, as well as this green Power Burst that shoots out of its tummy. Really. It jumps into the water and swims north for Hokkaido. We get several loving shots of the larva swimming through the water on the surface, heart-tugging music blasting. Nothing in nature can possibly be as ungainly a swimmer as a giant moth larva doing the breaststroke. Either the island is much closer to Japan than we thought, or that larva is very quick. Either way, it arrives in Japan when it's daylight, probably the next morning.
So for some time now, since last night, Mothra has been fighting a long, losing battle against DesGhidrah. We return to the action as the larva arrives, and instantly joins the fight. [Editor: He has pretty blue eyes!]
Ok, while the coming fight is going on, the Simpsons finally reunite. After being alone in the woods for many hours, the kids are still spunky, if dirty and hungry. Everyone hugs and cries, and then gets down to the main reason they are here--to be spectators to the monster fight.
And what a fight it is. Clearly, the larva is totally outclassed, and Mothra is at the end of her rope. They both get in a few good licks, but the majority of the fight is DesGhidrah beating the snot out of the little guys. You begin to feel sorry for the larva and Mothra, as they get blasted and smacked around continuously. The larva even gets bit several times, yellowish blood spurting out. Ouch, that has to hurt. This is Apollo Creed being stomped by the Russian. This is Nicholas Cage getting brutalized in Snake Eyes. This is Boromir getting shot full of arrows as he keeps swinging. This is awful, this is hard to watch. When will it end? For a kids' movie, this is just mean.
Larva vs. DesGhidrah!
Some notes on the fight... The larva has the amazing ability to turn partially invisible!!! The effect is like in Predator, and DesGhidrah has to spray flame around to re-locate the larva. DesGhidrah has a lot more firepower than the original series Ghidrah. Instead of just bolts of lightning from the mouths, DesGhidrah's heads can fire Plasma Bolts, streams of Liquid Fire, and even some quirky ground-shaking Sonic Blast thingie. This monster would kick the old Ghidrah's ass, and certainly any other monster as well. Even Godzilla would have a hard fight on his hands here. Throughout this entire battle, lasting at least an entire day, there is absolutely no response from the Japanese military. It's as if they realize that they would get it handed back to them if they tried to interfere, so they just stayed home.
At the climax, just when you think Mothra can't take any more punishment, the fight moves near a large hydroelectric dam. Either by accident or design (certainly looks by design), Mothra gets DesGhidrah to blast the dam, releasing the lake on the other side. Mothra zooms in and picks up the larva just before the waters cover it, and flies off. DesGhidrah faces the onrushing water and is swamped. Don't worry, the monster will be alright.
Mothra carries her baby out to sea (Why? Why not somewhere else on land?), and drops the larva into the water. Mothra then pancakes down on the sea and lies there treading water. She's clearly dying and the larva knows it, coming over to try to keep Mothra afloat. Mothra struggles but is too far gone, slowly slipping beneath the waves as the larva cries in anguish.
Ummm...that sucked. This is a kids' movie? Even though we are talking about two huge rubber and styrofoam monsters, that was a terribly emotionally draining scene. It was like watching Hud when that dude was trying to save that other dude from the rising water, it tears your heart out. Kids in the audience have to be crying and hugging their moms, moms have to be wishing they had gone to see Aladdin.
Meanwhile, the Simpson's make their way back to a town where they are in a trauma ward with other victims of the monster attack. They get bandaged up and then just hang around there, with nothing better to do. A voice-over by a news reporter on TV provides much exposition for the coming scenes. I don't know who the reporter is, but she is hot.
Also in the hospital is the television environmentalist that was trying save the rock formation before it went boom, remember him? He accosts Homer and yells that this is all his fault. His family pushes him away and makes impassioned speeches that Homer is not to blame. Hmmm...yes, actually, Homer is to blame. Didn't he pry the seal loose with a screwdriver? I think he must bear some level of responsibility for all this.
Ok, the larva is now aware that it has to complete its transformation into a moth if it is to ever have a shot at avenging its mom. It swims south to Yaku Island in Kagoshima Prefecture to gestate. Yaku Island is a nature preserve full of incredibly ancient cedar trees, located about 60 kilometers south of the southern tip of Kyushu. Some of the trees are thousands of years old. Reading about this on the internet was a whole lot better than watching this movie, trust me.
The twins have followed the larva here, and watch it slither up to a particularly old tree. This is the one it will climb up and do its thing on. The twins SING ANOTHER DAMN SONG!!!! The larva spits a cocoon and snuggles up inside as they sing to him. In an amazingly short period of time (before the song ends), the larva pops out as a full grown Mothra!!! This one is a bit mutated, having some extra powers that her mom did not. More on this later. This reuse of the previous prop flies off north to renew battle with DesGhidrah. The twins follow her on the mini-moth.
Back in the hospital, the news of the new Mothra's arrival is played on the TV. Marge laments that its just a moth, what can it accomplish? Bart turns to her and says, "Mom, more people die from bee stings in a year than snake bites! Its just an insect, but don't count it out!". While I'm dying laughing, the kids run out of the hospital. Mom and dad don't do a lot to stop them.
Having sucked enough tree energy by now, DesGhidrah is now able to spread its wings and fly. The first stage of the battle is in the air, as both monsters dogfight over the countryside. DesGhidrah takes the short end here, as this new Mothra is an order of magnitude more powerful than the old one. It can even break into thousands of Tiny Mothras, all who attack in a swarm. Really. The big three-headed beast ends up crashing to the ground, badly hurt.
Meanwhile, the twins on the little Moth and Belvera on her Dragon renew their own fight in the sky. Getting too close to the bigger battle, the Dragon takes some spillover damage. Crashing down, we see that the Dragon was actually a robot!!! Cool! But, how the hell did this ancient race of nature lovers and moth worshippers build a robotic mount.
The twins zip in and save Belvera from a fireball at the last second, flying off with her in the little Moth's clutches. Why did they save her? I guess sisterhood means more than anything, eh?
Mothra then drops a whole load of Hellfire and Damnation upon DesGhidrah, effectively incapacitating it. All in all, DesGhidrah didn't give a very good account of itself this time.
The kids are now out in the burnt forest... Wait! What the hell???!!! So these two kids left the hospital and their parents to go back out into the forest where the monsters are fighting and no one stopped them? How did they get so far out into the woods, anyway, steal a car? Lisa still has the seal, remember, and Bart tosses it into the air. Some freaky mojo jojo works and the nasty monster is again sealed into a mountain.
Belvera kicks loose and runs off. The twins let her go, and explain to a rather shocked Bart and Lisa that Belvera is thier elder sister not thier mortal enemy. Even though she's "a bit of a troublemaker", they still love her very much. What? Belvera just tried to destroy the planet and kill everyone off!!! A "troublemaker"? She's a menace! The lesson here is, love your siblings no matter what, even if they are genocidal Evil Bitch Sisters. Right.
Mothra gives the kids a ride now. They jump on her head and she takes off for a few laps round the mountains. Mothra spreads some super juju fertilizer from her wings out over the burnt forest, and flowers begin to bloom as sappy music plays.
The film ends with some dorky environmental message, laid on thickly with a shovel. The twins say bye, Mothra flies off, everyone is happy. I'm going to be sick.
[Editor Pam: Definitely a movie for small children, and not a particularly original one, at that. It is indeed very, very, cartoony, and too long, even for an adult. I doubt many six-year-olds would be able to sit through the whole thing in a movie theater, and some trimming wouldn't have hurt the movie at all.]
Written in July 2004 by Nathan Decker and edited by Pam Burda.
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that's between you and the vengeful wrath of your personal god...