The titanic moth receives her stand alone film targeted at kids
Toho regenerates their mystic insect in Godzilla’s wake, beginning a rapid fire, three year trilogy of movies. Rebirth of Mothra is a splendid fireworks show with intelligently gender neutral script work by Masumi Suetani (who contributed work to all three features), avoiding militaristic missile stand offs and instead charging forward with clever fantasy
Suetani’s work is periodically safe – Mothra is so ecologically minded as to carry the subtly of concrete blocks. A villain in Belvera (Aki Hano) is cloaked in sheets of black while her twin sisters don neon dresses of clashing rainbow colors on their side of right. Crudely drawn or not, the simpleton depiction of good vs evil is alluring for its ability to reach to reach an intended age demographic without muddying the confrontation. Subplots? Mothra has no use for them.
While human characters scatter, action takes over, sometimes to such lengths, Mothra appears to be repeating itself. Splendid interior work creates a surprisingly lavish battle inside of a family living room, even if the execution is often sordid. Toho’s kids offering is of sheer special effects volume rather than perfectionism.
That mantra carries into the fight at the core of this story, pitting the fantastical bug against a snarling lizard/dragon with the antagonistic name of Death Ghidorah. Again, no subtly.
Forest settings dominate the softened fights which see beam weapons – completely outside of logic or explanation – spewed with impossible regularity. Mothra falls into an irritating redundancy. Without cityscapes or points of reference, there are few visual anchors at work. Splashy composite effects work drones on with few breaks, a film in sync with the growing dissolution of attention spans in the mid-90s.
Even in consideration of some effects footage, there are 10-15 minutes waiting to end up in a deleted scenes montage. The film is unusually plodding even after it settles into the mix of its action spree. As an aside, this is a rare Japanese import which neither hides nor ignores the marketable monster brawn which put people in seats. Mothra is near instantaneous with its creature work, and to further credit of the script, human characters retain individual personalities worthy of the strong family dynamic it’s attempting to deliver.
Those youngest viewers won’t mind, but character development drifts Mothra toward rare categorization, that of family pictures with broad potential to entertain. Its Saturday morning characteristics and charisma are infectiously bright. Plus, being foreign, there is a touch of unique culture to soak up as the vividly colored moth takes flight.
With Sony’s own tacked on credits, this is certainly their own master and not Toho’s. All of this work appears recent given the exceptional resolution and pleasing grain management. Source material is clean with minimal imperfections outside of some persistent (if uncommon) judder.
Rebirth of Mothra is given its own BD-25 disc; the sequels share their own BD-50. Compression work on this initial 1996 offering is overall excellent, reproducing the film-based source with accuracy. Some of the more hazy or fog-covered shots will succumb to artifacting, and a touch of chroma noise is noted.
Given the bevy of various composite and blue/green screens, Mothra appears inconsistent. Each shot involving anything multi-pass appears softened by default and this is unavoidable. Close to half of the total running time is dominated by these shots due to the presence of the mini Fairy Mothra or Belvera. The difference will be detected by anyone looking for it.
As an aside, this does mean the core footage is absolutely meticulous. Otherwise, the switch wouldn’t be so evident. Facial detail and clarity is substantial. Mothra also maintains a host of colors, which on occasion do reach near bleeding levels, but this is another anomaly of the special effects. However, they remain under control with frequency, delivering lush forests, vivid costumes, and countless rainbow’d beam weapons.
Briefly discussing the English dub work, Mothra’s is grossly over cranked. Dialog takes over everything and is aggressively sent through the front soundstage. Any additions to the stereo channels feel weakened.
The good stuff in this DTS-HD stereo mix is within the original language track. Precision work ensures constant activity is ferreted to the sides. Death Ghidorah’s three heads make a specific mark in each channel where needed, while special powers are shot off from appropriate angles. The mix is wide enough to establish varying levels of distance. Stereo work like this may appear archaic given the movie’s release year, but it’s no less fun. Note the subtitles are for the dub and not an accurate translation.
Four trailers are included as bonuses, three teasers and one main.
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.