Friday, January 20, 2012

Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle For Earth

Looking at that movie poster, I wish I had gone out of my way to track down Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle For Earth.  It's pretty rare to see a static image that can cause epileptic seizures.  As it turns out, I accidentally stumbled across this movie while taking a trial and error approach to figuring out what channels my cable provides.  Fate must have been wearing a rubber suit that night, as I not only stumbled across this 1992 gem (it's the dubbed version, so I'll use the English translated names for the characters), but I got to watch the entire thing without commercials.  Let the Kaiju Mania begin!
Go Go Power Rangers!

Not so fast.  Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle For Earth doesn't exactly fly out of the gate.  Instead, it opts to show an Indiana Jones-esque character, Takuya, evading death and the hazards of Styrofoam bricks in an effort to take a relic from an old temple that absolutely does not resemble the set of a children's play.  Takuya narrowly escapes death by packing materials, but he is immediately arrested by the police, who were apparently waiting for him outside.  In jail, Takuya is faced with a choice; he can either sit and rot for fifteen years, or he can lead an expedition to investigate the effects of a recent mysterious asteroid.  That might not seem like a tough choice --- and it isn't --- but Takuya is being forced to work with his ex-wife, Masako, and his pay will go towards his backlog of child support.  Suck it, deadbeat!  The expedition is specifically going to investigate a surprising find on Infant Island.  When they arrive, the party survives several "comical" dangers in front of a green screen until they find the object.  It is very large, very smooth, and very hard.  What could it be?  Well, there were some cave paintings that our resident Indiana Jones analogue expertly dates as "a couple of thousand years" old that depict some animals (a moth, perhaps?) doing weird stuff.  For this next part, I want to point out that I am following the film's logic as closely as possible.  When Dr. Jones Takuya tries to determine what the object is made of, he immediately dismisses rock and metal.  Why, I don't know.  But what else could this very sturdy object be made from?  If you guessed "an egg," then you've seen more kaiju films than me.  Not only is this an egg, it is Mothra's egg, as some helpful miniature people explain.  They're not just your average miniature human that can hide behind flowers, though; these two are The Cosmos, and it is their job to keep the world in balance.
Um.  Okay.  So where the hell are the guys in rubber suits?  Not to worry.  Remember that asteroid?  It landed in the ocean and fell into the same underwater gorge where Godzilla had been hibernating.  Just as our characters were hauling the egg back to Japan, Godzilla attacks!
About damn time
But then, so does Battra!  Wait...who?  You see, Mothra is the protector of the Earth.  You didn't know that?  Yeah...neither did I.  Many years ago, there was an advanced civilization on Earth, but they started doing all sorts of ecologically bad stuff, like creating weather-controlling devices.  Apparently, they were latter-day Bond villains.  In response, the Earth created Battra, the destroyer of the Earth.  Last time, Battra defeated Mothra and destroyed that evil civilization.  With all the pollution and stuff in the world today, Battra woke up again and Mothra's egg became uncovered.  These two worldly forces are destined to battle once more, and the human race is at stake.  Well, Japan is at stake, anyway.  As for Godzilla, he's just an atomically-powered monster, caught in the middle.
I'm so glad the protector of the Earth still needs to metamorphose

I am certainly not an expert on kaiju movies, but when I sit down to enjoy a Godzilla flick, at the very least, I expect to see Godzilla kicking Tokyo's ass.  That is where Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle For Earth makes its first mistake.  Sure, we get to see Godzilla fighting Mothra and Battra, but there isn't a whole lot of wanton destruction coming from ol' greenie.  Instead, Battra is the one who ruins most of Tokyo. 
Godzilla fighting to keep his job
Now, if you've never heard of Battra before, that might be because he only exists in this single film; if there is nothing else memorable about this "dark" Mothra, at least the actor playing him is called Hurricane Ryu.  Awesome.

This is the first time I have ever seen a Mothra vehicle, and I have to admit that I was disappointed.  Is this his thing?  He's a larvae for half the movie, and then cocoons himself and then grows wings that look like they were upholstered with shag carpeting from the 70s?
Don't get me wrong, it was hilarious watching Mothra the larvae fire some sort of thread/webbing/jism at Godzilla, but the larvae form is just about the exact opposite of Godzilla on the cool scale.  To satisfy your curiosity, the exact opposite of a giant dinosaur on the cool scale would be "Homework." 

There are a lot of amusing things in Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle For Earth, even with Mothra busy being lame.  I loved the stupid miniature people, the Cosmos.  They synchronized their speech, randomly sang, and communicated with Mothra.  Oh, and they promised to to do what they can to save humanity "this time."  I love the implication there; the last time Battra erased a civilization from the planet, they either sat by idly, or they actively helped Battra.
Bitches.  Miniature bitches.
I also thought the Indiana Jones-ish opening was hilariously inept and out of place.  Obviously, you don't watch a kaiju film for the acting, but this was pretty bad.  My next favorite thing in this film was how Mothra opted to prepare for metamorphosis:
I can't be the only one who assumed he was having sex with a building, especially when that cocoon silk started spewing out.  All of that was amusing, certainly, but what took the cake was more of a conceptual joke.  SPOILER ALERT: Godzilla eventually kills Battra.  Hooray, right?  The Earth has been saved by the king of all monsters!  Well, not so much.  Nobody really celebrates.  Even odder, it seems that Battra --- whose purpose is to destroy humanity --- was planning to save the planet by destroying a meteor that would crash into Earth in the year 1999 (the year is currently 1992, remember).  Pause to consider that.  Battra apparently had an identity crisis where he needed to protect the Earth from a meteor that he somehow knew would not only hit the Earth, but ruin it.  Battra is a militant psychic environmentalist.  Even better, Mothra has a "conversation" with Battra, where he agrees to take on the burden of destroying the meteor, and so he sails into space.  The end.

Wait...what?  What just happened?  I did not see that ending coming.

I am not really sure how to rate this film.  On the one hand, it is absolutely terrible.  The acting, the direction of Takao Okawara, the action, the special effects, and the editing were all bad enough to qualify you for a medical prescription for whiskey, just to make your brain feel better.  The human storyline took up way too much time, was terrible, and was heavy-handed in its condemnation of industrialization.  On the other hand, this is a movie featuring men dressed up in rubber suits attacking poster board cities and model tanks.  Still, I would have hoped for an improvement in special effects since the original GojiraGodzilla and Mothra: The Battle For Earth is by no means good, but it is bad enough to entertain.  I give it a legitimate score of
and a Lefty Gold score of


  1. As a Kaiju expert, let me put your curiosity to rest. This is flick follows the template set down decades before for this genre. From the "Where the hell are the kaiju?" beginning, to the "What the fuck is Godzilla's agenda?" to the "So when is Mothra going to become a moth?" to the heavy-handed environmentalist messages, to the inept ending. This one seems to cover most all of the bases. Oh yeah, and past kaiju films histories are observed and unobserved by the whim of the director. i.e. Mothra kicks some major Earth-ass in her first flick.

  2. I don't know how many of these movies I will watch in the future, but I appreciate the frank reassurances.