Thursday, April 14, 2011

Godzilla vs The Thing (Inoshiro Honda, 1964)

Oddly enough, this is my first real foray into the world of Godzilla. Sure, I have seen bits of films, mostly the wrestling type action, but this is my first beginning-to-end Godzilla film.

Now, while I like the idea of Godzilla, I am more of a Mothra fan. In fact, if I had to choose a deity, it would be Mothra. Mothra is anti-big business, anti-nukes, pro-ecology, and not to be trifled with. Mothra defends her people, and once a threat has been neutralized does not push for its destruction. She is a very sensible creature. Godzilla, on the other hand, is simply a force of nature—at least as presented in this film. I can get behind this, but make mine Mothra.

The story is fairly similar to the original Mothra. A giant egg appears in the ocean near a fishing village. A businessman tells the villagers that it is theirs, since it is in their waters, and advises that they bring it ashore. He then buys the egg from them for the price of one million chicken eggs. It turns out he is the pawn of a bigger corporation which plans to make money off the egg by selling research and side-show rights.

We soon discover that the egg was released from Mothra's island by a typhoon, and Mothra's primary agents, the Shobijin (two twin fairies), come to Japan to try getting it back. They warn the businessmen that Mothra will come to reclaim the egg. The businessmen fail to remember the last time Mothra came to retrieve the Shobijin. When some reporters try to negotiate the egg's release on their behalf, the businessmen offer to trade the egg for the Shobijin, again forgetting Mothra's first visit to Japan.

The Shobijin, played by Emi and Yƻmi Ito, The Peanuts

Well, the typhoon did not only effect Mothra's island. It also woke the King of Monsters. Just as they get ready to begin making some dough off the egg, Godzilla rises from the Earth. As is likely typical of a giant atomic dinosaur, he gets his tail caught in an electrical tower, trips and falls, gets pissed, and starts breaking stuff. So, he starts walking and smashing—perhaps trying to get to the sea.

As usual, the Army is dispatched to destroy Godzilla with the usual ineffectiveness. The reporters decide the only way to stop him is to get Mothra involved. They travel to Mothra's island and appeal to the cult's leader for aid. He refuses, as the outside world is no friend of theirs, but after an impassioned plea and the Shobijin's intercession, Mothra decides to participate.

In all, this one is pretty enjoyable. Godzilla is just a treat here, and their are not too many big fight scenes. The story is quite similar to the original Mothra, but with a bit of a twist. While the monsters in these films are always fairly laughable, I must say I am impressed by the miniature work, and I imagine for the time many of the effects are really awesome. This streams on Netflix, and is interesting in many ways. The social/ecological message is sound, and there is a plot to it. I enjoyed it a great deal.


Lisa said...

This film is such a huge part of my childhood. It was the first Godzilla (vs. something) film I ever watched and I was so fascinated by it, although even as a little child I already was amused by the - now, funnily seeming stop-motion.
Mothra is definitely one of the coolest monsters Godzilla has to fight against and I am pretty sure it's one of the reason my sister is afraid of butterflies & moths.

Lisa said...

I have to add that my childhood ended only about 9 years ago. So Godzilla was already referred to as a classic on TV.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I saw the first Mothra film before I saw any Godzilla movie in its entirety. I like the message that goes with Mothra. Always evil business men who can't see past their balance sheet.

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