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Godzilla vs. Mothra (Classic Media)
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Box Front Japanese Title: Mosura Tai Gojira (“Mothra vs. Godzilla”)
Alternate Titles: Mothra vs. Godzilla (international title), Godzilla vs. the Thing (original U.S. theatrical release title)
Director: Ishiro Honda (Godzilla:  King of the Monsters, Rodan)
Original Release Year: 1964
Running Time: 87 minutes

DVD Released By: Classic Media
Video: Fullscreen
Audio: English mono, English 5.1
Extras: Godzilla:  Destroy All Monsters Melee video game preview
Subtitles: None
Closed Captions: English
Region: 1
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 11
Packaging: Keepcase
MSRP: $12.98
UPC #: 074645428895
Catalog #: LVD 54288
Status: Available (individually, or as part of The Ultimate Godzilla Collection Box Set).


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The Film: A hurricane in the South Pacific brings a strange object to the shores of Japan:  A gigantic, floating egg.  The egg is towed ashore by villagers, who then sell it to a local businessman, Kumayama.  A reporter and photographer, Sakai and Yoka, investigate the phenomenon.  Their attempted interview with Professor Miura, a scientist who is examining the egg, is cut short when they are ordered to leave the scene by Kumayama.  They are distressed to learn that the egg will not be used for scientific study.  Instead, Kumayama intends to make it a tourist attraction!

The Shobijin, the tiny twin faeries of Infant Island, come to Japan to ask that the egg be returned.  The egg belongs to Mothra, the giant insect god of Infant Island.  Kumayama and his boss, Torahata, refuse to listen to the faeries’ plea.  Even when Sakai, Yoka, and Professor Miura accompany the diminutive twins, the unscrupulous businessmen flatly refuse.  Disgusted with man’s greed, the Shobijin return to their island home.

However, it is soon discovered that the hurricane has brought a far deadlier menace to Japan:  Godzilla!  Emerging from a mudplain left by the storm, the radioactive dinosaur resumes his destructive ways.  As Japan is being trampled, the tables are turned.  Sakai, Yoka, and the professor journey to Infant Island to plead for Mothra’s help in stopping Godzilla’s rampage.  Showing more mercy than they had received in Japan, the Shobijin and Mothra agree.

Mothra arrives on the Japanese mainland just as Godzilla approaches her egg.  Mothra struggles valiantly, and gains the upper hand against her imposing foe, but is ultimately felled by Godzilla’s atomic breath.  As the monster continues his march across Japan, it is now up to Mothra’s twin offspring to avenge their parent and stop Godzilla.

Godzilla vs. Mothra is widely regarded as one of the best Godzilla films.  The reasons for this are many.  The film combines an appealing cast of human characters with the spectacle of the battle between Toho’s two most popular monsters.  The special effects are consistently excellent.  This was the last film of the Showa series to offer a threatening, unsympathetic portrayal of Godzilla.  There is also great contrast between the lumbering, animalistic Godzilla, and the elegant and intelligent Mothra.

The U.S. version presented on this DVD benefits from an excellent dub (notwithstanding Mothra being frequently referred to as “the Thing”), and an additional action sequence.  (The scene in which the U.S. military attempts to stop Godzilla using Frontier Missiles is only included in the U.S. release.)  No monster movie fan should miss this film. 
Grade:  A

Video: The movie is presented in fullscreen.  The framing and composition appear horribly cramped.  The video quality is mixed.  Some scenes are bright and sharp, while others are fuzzy and faded.  Print damage such as speckles and lines are scattered throughout the film.  The special effects scenes suffer the most from these problems.  There is absolutely no reason that Classic Media couldn’t include the remastered widescreen version that was on the previous Simitar releaseGrade:  D+

Audio: The English mono track is serviceable, if nothing special.  The dialogue, music, and sound effects are all clear.  It’s recorded louder than the previous Simitar disc, but otherwise sounds identical.  This disc also features a 5.1 remix.  Since I don’t yet have a 5.1 system, I can’t comment on that option.  A common complaint with these remixes is that the entire soundtrack has a distracting “echo” effect, which is apparent even on a basic stereo television.  Grade:  B

Extras / Menus: The only extra is a preview of the Godzilla:  Destroy All Monsters Melee video game for the Nintendo GameCube.  (An enhanced X-Box version of the game is also available.)  It’s a nice clip, featuring a live Japanese reporter fleeing from the in-game action.  The fast action and cool graphics of the game are shown to good effect.  Too bad Classic Media didn’t include some trailers, or any other extras.  Only the main menu is animated, with a still image of Mothra looming over a city.  Grade:  C-

Final Analysis: While the DVD format as a whole continues to improve and evolve, this disc takes a major step backwards in both quality and content.  Godzilla vs. Mothra is one of the best Godzilla films; fortunately Classic Media has since released a vastly improved versionFinal Grade:  C-
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