Kaiju Corner: Godzilla Vs. Mothra (1992)
After the uprise in ticket sales from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Toho wanted to continue the trend of reintroducing classic monsters into the new series of films. After a quick change in the director's chair from Kazuki Omori to Takao Okawara, next up on the monster list would be Mothra and joining her, franchise newcomer Battra.
When a large meteorite touches down in the Pacific ocean, a large typhoon lands on Infant Island, destroying half of the island and revealing a large egg buried underneath the ground.
Back in Japan, Takuya Fujita has discovered an ancient artifact but the temple was boobytrapped, collapsing around Takuya. He barely escapes but Takuya is then arrested for destroying historical property.
Having discovered the egg on Infant Island, the Japanese government would like to hire Takuya to scout it along with his ex-wife, Masako Tezuka, and Kenji Ando, a liaison for the Marutomo company, the island’s owner. If Takuya were to agree, all charges would be dropped. Takuya was at first hesitant to accept the offer but once finding out he would be in prison for fifteen years, he jumped at the opportunity. Though there would be tension between Takuya and Masako because he ran out on her and their daughter, the group leave for Infant Island.
Meanwhile at Japan’s Self-Defense force, Miki Saegusa has discovered that Godzilla is now moving through the Pacific after being awoken by the meteorite. Another monster has also appeared, escaping its icy prison at the North Pole and seems to be making its way toward Infant Island.
Takuya, Masako, and Kenji make their way across Infant Island and discover a hidden temple devoted to an ancient symbol with paintings of giant insects doing battle in the air. To their surprise the Sister Cosmos appear, twins the size of mice, and tell the group the story of Mothra and Battra. Mothra, being a force for Good, has defended the Earth and humanity for generations and will continue to do so. The other, Battra, was created to do the same but sought to destroy humanity for the devastation it’s caused, and became Mothra’s mortal nemesis. The two once did battle ending with Mothra being the victor and Battra retreating, but with the recent meteorite landing, Battra has awakened and will seek to destroy Mothra and humanity.
Kenji Ando options to save the egg and take it off the island so the Marutomo Company could “save” it. They soon haul the egg off of Infant Island by a large tanker ship with the egg in tow behind on its own barge.
They make it halfway to Japan before Godzilla emerges from the depths below the ship. The egg reacts to Godzilla’s presence and starts to hatch. Takuya decides that living is more important than dying for some egg so he goes to unhook the barge from the ship. Ando tries to stop him as it may cost him his job and the two fight it out, leaving Takuya victorious who unhooks the barge.
The egg hatches and a Mothra larvae emerges to battle Godzilla. Godzilla and Mothra duke it out until the Battra larvae arrives and knocks Mothra away from Godzilla. The fight switches to an underwater battle between Godzilla and Battra. Godzilla uses his atomic breath while Battra uses eye beams.
The destruction the two are causing creates a fissure in the earth’s crust and the two combatants are both swallowed up by an underwater volcano. Mothra being the remaining monster returns to Infant Island until it’s called by the Cosmos.
Takuya and Masako try to make amends with their past as Takuya is too afraid to meet the daughter he never knew and once they’re about to meet, he runs away again. The Cosmos are kidnapped by Ando and taken prisoner by the Marutomo company who believe that they may be able to make a fortune off of them. What they don’t know is that by kidnapping the Cosmos, Mothra will destroy Japan to save them. Takuya, seeing a million dollar opportunity, steals the Cosmos from the Marutomo Company to sell them on the black market. The only problem is that Miki, Masako and her daughter, Midori, arrive to stop him before Mothra destroys the Tokyo. Takuya stops running and accepts responsibility as a father, and turns the Cosmos over to them. The Cosmos sing to Mothra to turn away from the city and return to Infant Island but the Self-Defense Force intervenes. Now under heavy fire, the larva is heavily damaged and dying but instead starts cocooning itself on the capital.
The moment is cut short as there is an unbelievable surge of pressure rising underneath Mt. Fuji, with an imminent volcanic eruption. Miki senses the worst: Godzilla has returned. The monster swam through a river of lava until he made it to Mt. Fuji, causing the eruption.
Mothra emerges from its cocoon, transformed into her moth form with large, colorful wings. The Cosmos let the humans know that Mothra is off to fight Battra who has also survived and transformed into its larger, more menacing form, similar to Mothra.
Mothra and Battra engage in mortal kombat above the city while below, Godzilla has arrived to engage in the battle. Battra knocks Mothra to the ground and shifts focus to Godzilla, who batters Battra to the ground as well. Mothra uses its poison powder to knock Godzilla down and transfers its energy to the injured Battra, hoping Battra would help her fight Godzilla. Godzilla is up and at it again and nearly kills Mothra until Battra intervenes, saving her. The two join forces against Godzilla, paralyzing and cocooning the king. The two fly Godzilla out to see but Godzilla atomic blasts Battra one last time sending both he and Battra into the icy depths of the ocean while Mothra escapes back to the mainland.
Later, the Cosmos reveal that Battra promised Mothra that it would intercept a comet that would collide with the Earth in 1999 and destroy it. Unfortunately, with Battra sacrificing itself to stop Godzilla, it can no longer stop the comet so Mothra will destroy the comet herself so both she and the Cosmos leave the Earth, only to return if the Earth needs their help.
This may be my least favorite of the Heisei series, but we’ll know once we make it to Spacegodzilla as I’m not a huge fan of that one either. The film heavily reuses themes of the original Mothra vs. Godzilla to a greater extent but at a lesser value. The heavy-handed environmentalism really grates on what would be a fun kaiju movie. Every other scene has a character with a line or two about how humanity’s destroying the planet, humanity’s to blame, we created these monsters, yada, yada, yada. The subtlety of the original is completely lost here. The only theme of the original at play that still works though is humanity’s greed. The Marutomo’s intent to make profit off of the Cosmos is taken directly from the original.
The monster battles on the other hand, are pretty spectacular. The Godzilla and Battra fight underwater is fantastic, which is also the first underwater battle for the franchise since Ebirah, Horror of the Deep. It’s also the first time we see Godzilla or his opponent use their energy weapons underwater and it makes the battle even more grand as the scene is shot in the dark but the explosions on the set illuminate the monsters, creating beautiful silhouettes. And the moment when the two are locked in a fist/mandile fight as they plunge into the volcano is really epic.
Godzilla’s suit is the same as usual but with less of an emphasis on facial emotions than the last two films. Any time they try to add that same emotion it comes off forced and with his suit looking a little more worn down and rubbery, it looks stilted. For some reason, they changed the sound effect of Godzilla’s atomic breath in this film and this film alone and it sounds more similar to any other beam attack you’d hear, which is quite off-putting. Another thing they changed was Godzilla’s roar from the last three films, changing it to a more traditional roar you’d hear in the old Showa films. Though it’s a minor complaint, the previous roar felt more empowering and monstrous.
Nothing much has changed for Mothra in the last thirty years. The larva is still very familiar but when in her moth form, she’s gorgeous to look at. You could tell in the Showa series when the Mothra puppet was wearing down because the color was fading, but this newly designed Mothra looks great with bright vivid colors. It’ll be even more interesting to talk about her other forms when I cover her own trilogy of solo films.
Battra is a new character to the Godzilla franchise and another interesting design, created to look like the evil Mothra. Both the larval form and moth form look great, and Battra’s eye beams in its larval form make it even more dangerous. I especially enjoyed how they interwove both Battra’s and Mothra’s histories together, making them two sides of the same coin.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m not as enthusiastic about this one compared to the others. The film’s about as subtle as a jackhammer when it comes to its environmentalist themes, which complicate what would otherwise be a fun monster brawler.