RETURN TO ENLIGHTENMENT

e. magill's                        

The Unapologetic Geek

MAIN LIST        

The Mothra Reviews (plus Rodan)


REBIRTH OF MOTHRA II (1997)
Rebirth of Mothra II (1997)
REBIRTH OF MOTHRA II (1997)
Rebirth of Mothra II (1997)

THE JIST: Oceanic pollution activates Dagahra, an ancient bio-engineered creature from the depths. The Elias sisters, Mona and Lora, recruit a group of children to find Nirai Kanai, the lost underwater domain of Dagahra's creators, before Belvera pillages it for her own selfish desires. Once there, they must unlock Nirai Kanai's secrets while Mothra Leo does his best to hold the evil Dagahra at bay.

THE VERDICT: This is the worst of the Mothra kiddie kaiju trilogy. It has an unfortunate made-for-TV vibe, or even worse, it sometimes feels like a collection of FMV cutscenes from a mid-nineties video game. It could be compared to a feature-length version of those wonky videos that precede a theme park attraction, only without the payoff of a cool Mothra ride (which I would totally be on board for, by the way). The sets are incredibly cheap and badly spray-painted, the CG is worse than in the previous film, and there is some especially awful compositing on display throughout. The evil kaiju this time around, Dagarah, is much worse than Desgidorah--I daresay he feels a bit like a Gamera baddie--though it's nice to have a few city destruction scenes, the one kaiju trope missing last time. There's also Gorgo, a creature that's supposed to be lovable but instead comes across as lame and annoying. As for the plot, the Atlantis-style adventure story doesn't mesh well with a kaiju flick, and though the characters are certainly more memorable, they are less believable and more cartoonish, lacking the depth that allowed the previous film to have a good message about how to get along with your siblings. It's not a total loss, though; the kaiju battle sequences are pretty good, and I give the movie props for its ambition, even though the story falls flat under the weight of it. The target audiences are likely to forgive many of its flaws--especially younger audiences--but that doesn't mean I can give it a pass.



Rebirth of Mothra III (1998)
REBIRTH OF MOTHRA III (1998)
REBIRTH OF MOTHRA III (1998)
Rebirth of Mothra III (1998)

THE JIST: When King Ghidorah returns to Earth and kidnaps all of Japan's children, it is up to one boy, Shota, with the help of the Elias sisters, to find a way for Mothra to defeat him once and for all, even if it involves traveling into the distant past.

THE VERDICT: This is the best of the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy, and I'm not just saying that because it has King Ghidorah in it. It has improved effects, a much more active plot that gives its characters far more to do, and the most endearing human characters of the bunch. It never feels like the film is padded out or lacking in things to do, and it is the most likely of the three to actually hold a kid's attention for the entire runtime. There are a few weird plot contrivances and things that don't make sense if you think about them too hard--and it is really ripping off Zelda with the "Elias triangle"--but as a children's fantasy, it all works just fine. There are some awesome models and miniatures near the end, though the time travel logic that gets them on screen is notably incoherent. I watched all three of these for the first time last year, and this is the only one I actually enjoyed rewatching for the purposes of this article.



RODAN (1956)
Rodan (1956)
RODAN (1956)
Rodan (1956)

THE JIST: A series of grisly mining accidents occurs near a volcanic mountain by a small Japanese island village. Upon investigation, it is determined that there is a larval species of monsterous ancient dragonfly roaming the mines, but as the miners and scientists try to deal with the menace, something moving at supersonic speeds begins laying waste to everything in the area. This unidentified flying object is caught on camera, and all are astonished to discover that it is, in fact, an enormous, mutated pteranodon they call Rodan, who has been awakened by the disruption to its normal food source, the ancient dragonfly larvae from the mines. As the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force mobilizes to take down the flying behemoth, they quickly realize that they are facing not one, but two Rodans. Meanwhile, the volcano stirs.

THE VERDICT: Taking the slow-burn template of Gojira, this early kaiju flick downplays the subtextual elements of its predecessor and ups the ante in terms of spectacle. It takes a while for Rodan to arrive, with the first half of the movie feeling more like a down-to-Earth creature feature involving a bunch of miners in the dark. However, this half of the movie is actually pretty good, even as it bears almost no resemblance to the kaiju action audiences were already coming to expect by 1956. It's got a good sense of dread and lingering horror to it. As soon as Rodan arrives, though, it becomes a completely different kind of movie, and the whiplash from that is jarring. The action is incredible, with a dogfight sequence standing out as something both innovative and well-done. The filmmakers were clearly unafraid to try something new and incredibly different from what they were comfortable with, but they rose to the occasion, especially director Ishiro Honda and special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya, the same team that realized Gojira only two years earlier. I also particularly love the scientist character, Professor Kashiwagi (played by the always wonderful Akihiko Hirata), who gets increasingly exasperated as he tries to make scientific sense of everything that's happening. It's a problematic film with characters that don't contribute much to the plot's resolution and promising thematic subtext pushed way down to make room for a somewhat more exploitative form of entertainment, but it's still excellent in its own way, easily better than the first two Gojira sequels.




For further celebration of the latest Godzilla flick hitting theaters, watch this space for my review of the new Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which should drop soon. In the meantime, you can check out my video review of the 1956 original version of Godzilla: King of the Monsters! below. All hail the king!

<< PREVIOUS
|
Page     1     2
|


-e. magill 5/30/2019


MORE LIKE THIS:
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) - Movie Review
The Geek reviews the latest in Legendary's MonsterVerse, a movie that sacrifices gritty realism for giant monster spectacle. [6/1/2019]
Forbidden Planet - Sci-Fi Classic Film Review
The Geek celebrates his 500th article with a review of the greatest science-fiction film of the 1950's. [5/16/2019]
The Gamera Trilogy Review
During Japan's Heisei era, a trio of Gamera films were released that should silence all of the giant turtle's detractors. [8/23/2018]
Movie Review: Godzilla (2014)
After the long build-up here at emagill.com, it's safe to say my expectations for Godzilla's latest entry were high, and yet they were still exceeded. [6/3/2014]
Top 5 Best & Worst Godzilla Monsters
Godzilla is always the biggest star, but these are his most memorable co-stars. [4/29/2014]
The Godzilla Reviews
The Geek kicks off Godzilla month by reviewing all 28 Toho Godzilla movies (along with that American imposter from '98). [4/22/2014]