Action, Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Monsters, Science Fiction

Rebirth of Mothra Trilogy (1996 – 1998)

Comments Off on Rebirth of Mothra Trilogy (1996 – 1998) 30 January 2015

rebirth of mothra

Studio: Sony Pictures

Theatrical Release(s): December 14, 1996 / December 13, 1997 / December 12, 1998 (Japan)

Blu Ray Release: September 9, 2014

Director(s): Okihiro Yoneda (Rebirth of Mothra I and III) Kunio Miyoshi (Rebirth of Mothra II)

Not Rated

Review by Travis North

While the Godzilla series was put on hiatus after the 1995 entry Godzilla vs. Destroyah, Toho went in a slightly different direction utilizing possibly the second most popular giant monster in their stable; Mothra. One major difference is that the Mothra movies are squarely aimed at small children. So don’t expect the type of pace and plot of the main Godzilla series, which hurts in some places and actually helps in others.

Rebirth of Mothra (1996)

Rebirth of Mothra focuses on a normal Japanese family. The father works for a logging company that uncovers a strange medallion as part of their excavation. This sets into motion the unleashing of giant monster action. We do have to deal with some kiddy centric story first though. The tiny “twins” seen in the original series show up here more as sisters who ride a mini-Mothra. They have a third troublemaker, borderline evil, sister who rides a robot dragon.

Thankfully, instead of too much child acting and dialogue the sisters clash which involves some small scale chasing and destruction to keep you interested. Eventually Death Ghidorah is unleashed. This isn’t quite the traditional full Ghidorah. The three heads are there, but the body is more quadruped and smaller. It is still pretty pissed off though and spends time sucking the energy from Earth and becoming more powerful, basically destroying everything in its path and beating the crap out of Mothra.

This first entry was very fast paced and enjoyable. Some of the acting is beyond wooden, with director Yoneda focusing on blank expressions multiple times. The downside is the classic Mothra-summoning musical number that was annoying in the 60’s and doesn’t seem any more tolerable today.

Rebirth of Mothra II (1997)

Rebirth of Mothra II quickly followed a year later, but the director has been switched from Okihiro Yoneda to Kunio Miyoshi. Only die-hard fans probably know these names, I only point it out in how obvious the change hurt the quality. The plot involves pollution in the ocean (notice the environmental themes yet?) that has a bunch of weird starfish creatures washing ashore and attacking boaters. This leads an Atlantis-like city coming out of the ocean, which of course a couple of child actors end up on to get in the way. They spend their time trying to avoid getting crushed or abused by a couple of treasure seeking morons.

Dagahra is the new bad monster to fight Mothra, and unfortunately somewhat resembles Space Godzilla. I will at least give credit in taking the gamble of a new monster, but it doesn’t leave much of an impression. What does leave an impression is a small Gizmo/Furby creature that has a pencil thin cock coming out of its head and can heal injuries by pissing on you. In case you weren’t sure yet, yes this movie was made in Japan. This and other goofiness, combined with absent parents and criminal adult themes, and worst of all lack of action, make this feel like one of the lesser 1970s Godzilla entries where the budgets were getting squeezed. Easily the least of the trilogy.

Rebirth of Mothra III (1998)

Rebirth of Mothra III (1998) thankfully finds Yoneda back in the director’s chair. All the familiar parts of a Mothra movie are still here; the sisters flying around on their mini-monsters, a focus on a Japanese family, Mothra getting its ass handed to it by the real Ghidorah, etc. This entry is quite a bit darker than the others. It is still kid friendly, but when the major plot involves Ghidorah transporting all the children of Japan into a giant pulsating sac (unfortunately rendered in CGI) for slaughter you know things have taken a turn. It turns out Ghidorah was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs, and is much too powerful for Mothra in the present day. The only way to defeat him is for Mothra to take a one way time travel ticket back to the age of dinosaurs to fight a younger, weaker version of Ghidorah.

I have to pause to point out that this results in a combination of kaiju and dinosaurs on the screen at once. The 6 year old version of me would pre-cum all over my pajamas if I saw this. It is still an awesome idea that is only lessened by some really shoddy effect work for the dinosaurs. While Mothra and Ghidorah look great, the budget left over for the T-Rex and Triceratops only allowed for some stiff puppetry. Who cares though, it’s still completely fun to see. When monsters aren’t fighting, the tiny sisters are clashing with katanas. There is no environmental bullshit, characters actually die so the stakes and drama are raised, and Mothra magically whips out new powers to try to defeat the much larger Ghidorah. This was a fitting wrap up, and the trilogy is perfect Saturday afternoon viewing.

Overall the discs have good sound and picture quality. Minor complaints are the sound mix in the original. Some effects are appropriately high in the mix, but other times explosions sound like they are missing. Part III looked fairly grainy in spots, and almost looked like the picture was zoomed in a bit, which might explain it. These small observations shouldn’t hold you back from getting this triple feature.

Rebirth of Mothra Rating: ★★★½☆

Rebirth of Mothra II Rating: ★★½☆☆

Rebirth of Mothra III Rating: ★★★★☆

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