Rebirth of Mothra (1996) – Review

So yesterday, while I sat there sipping on my black tea and contemplating whether or not I thought King of the Monsters was actually good, it occurred to me. In a flash of thought I said “Oh yeah, the Mothra trilogy was a thing!” With that I found myself a copy of Rebirth of Mothra and watched it. I was drawn to this trilogy since the last kaiju related trilogy I watched was the Gamera Heisei trilogy, which I hold in very high regard as some of the best kaiju movies to date. So I went into this movie with high hopes. Were those hopes satisfied, well…let’s talk about that.

Story


The story goes that some builders find a magical seal that they take and accidentally release Desghidorah, a planet destroying monster that attacked the planet years ago. As Desghidorah wreaks havoc, the last surviving Mothra appears, and with her comes her newborn larvae, who becomes the new Mothra. This story is just straight up boring. The meat of the plot takes place in a forest, which makes for a really boring setting with little to no destruction other than some burnt trees. The story is drawn out and has some poor pacing. While I critiqued King of the Monsters for its pacing being too fast, this pacing is way to slow. There’s a small fight scene between the fairy characters, and if it was a 5 minute scene it’d be fine, but I swear it went on for about 10-15 minutes. This was a drawn out element that lingers throughout the film. Desghidorah’s wake up scene lasts way too long, and it takes about 40 minutes into this 1 hour and 45 minute movie for any actual monster fights to happen. This story is slow, drawn out, poorly paced and just plain boring.

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This scene took 10 minutes away from me I’ll never get back.

Characters


These characters are awful. I would address each of them separately like I usually do, but they’re so boring, basic and frankly annoying that I can’t find any reason to talk about them separately. The kids Taika and Wakaba (played by Kazuki Futami and Maja Fujisawa respectively) are what’s know in the kaiju community as Kenny’s. For those who don’t know, a Kenny is any annoying kid in a kaiju movie, and boy these kids fit that description to a T. Annoying? Check. Dumb? Check. Somehow know specific plot points they otherwise shouldn’t? Of you know it. The first scene with these kids sees them squealing and screaming at each other and I immediately thought “Oh no…it’s one of ‘those’ kaiju movies isn’t it?” The Shobijin fairies, Lora and Moll (Played by Sayaka Yamaguchi and Megumi Kobayashi) are pretty bad too. They do one of two things, either scream and cry at Mothra for doing poorly at fighting, or do a poor job of protecting the Desghidorah seal, which they entrust to Wakaba, who previously has the seal and then lost it, a marvelous choice to protect it! Then we have Belvera (played by Aki Hano), who I’m convinced is Rita Repulsa from Power Rangers but trapped in a kaiju movie. She does nothing but cackle annoyingly and her dialogue is so sparse I forgot she could talk. Her Garu Garu dragon is cute though. I would talk about the other characters but many of them are just so inconsequential it wouldn’t really be worth it.

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Oh good baby Mothra is in this scene, thank god.

Presentation


This is probably the strongest part of the movie, and even then we aren’t looking at anything spectacular. These effects do look extremely dated, pretty jarring green screens are rife in this movie and there are the occasional CGI models that just look awful. While I am a Mothra fan, I always find her to be the least expressive of all the big Toho Kaiju. Her bug like design and lack of articulation in her body really makes a for a stiff look regardless of the movie she’s in. Mothra Leo certainly looks good, but the fuzz on the puppet makes it looks far less menacing. This movies presentation shines however in the form of Desghidorah. His design is unique and memorable, he’s reminiscent of other incarnations of the three headed monster and his moveset certainly showcases a lot of good pyrotechnics. So while the big bad shines in terms of presentation, the rest of the movie is only okay for the time.

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This scene here looks alright, I wish the rest of the movie did.

The Monsters


  • Mothra: The namesake of the movie, or at least a half of it, Mothra is just fine in this movie. You know the phrase ‘Show up to die’, well Mothra embodies that phrase in this movie. She shows up, gets beaten and passes the torch to Mothra Leo, her offspring who becomes the main monster of the trilogy. For what she does she’s a serviceable kaiju and her death sequence is actually pretty touching, despite being between two plastic looking puppets.
  • Mothra Leo: I find Mothra Leo absolutely hilarious in both a good and bad way. This Mothra is so ridiculously OP it cracks me up. The first Mothra had electric scale shedding, laser antennae and powerful wings. Here’s what Mothra Leo has. *inhales* Laser beams, super sonic speed, can spilt into mini energy moths, another laser beam, electric wings, sharp wings, the ability to create a green energy tornado and to top it all off, another laser beam. This is a moveset that belongs in a DC comic book, and these all belong to a Moth. Leo also has a more intimidating design that the Mothra before, but is still too fluffy. So Mothra Leo gets a pass for having a hilariously cool and OP moveset and at the very least looking better than mommy Mothra.
  • Desghidorah: My favourite kaiju in the movie, Desghidorah boasts great effects work, a downright terrifying design and unsettling movements, he’s a great addition to the Ghidorah lineage. Unfortunately there isn’t much to Desghidorah other than an intimidating design, as he barely moves until the final scene of the movie where he learns to fly, but does still showcase some absolutely vicious brutality on both Mothra and the larval Mothra Leo. So Desghidorah gets a pass on this one.
  • Fairy: Well…this was certainly a surprise. If people have seen my Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla know that I fell in love with the little ‘chibi Mothra’ in that movie, and low and behold, they make a return in this movie. This chibi Mothra, named Fairy, is pretty cute and serves mainly as the transport for the Shobijin, despite them being shown to fly in previous movies. It has a cute cry, its movement look sweet and it has its own mini laser. I think we all need a little Fairy Mothra in our kaiju movies.
  • Garu Garu: A small cute robot dragon piloted by Belvera, Garu Garu is a fine little monster, and admittedly looks pretty cute. Not much else to say really, just wanted to shoutout this lovable little dragon.
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Like c’mon, Desghidorah looks cool!

Grades


  • Story: 2/5 – It’s such a small scale story that the stakes are almost nonexistent. The movie has like 3 scenes and the kaiju exist on only one of them. The fact that this movie barely moves along really makes for a boring experience. The film itself also has a bare bones plot and nothing exciting about it. Overall, a weak story carried by even weaker characters.
  • Characters: 2/5 – This is showa era Gamera levels of poor characters. The adults were pointless, the Shobijin were incompetent, Belvera is a straight up Saturday morning villain and the kids were…well as I mentioned before, full blown movie Kenny’s. This combination of horribly inconsistent and annoying characters dragged the movie down significantly, if they themselves had been better then maybe I wouldn’t dislike this movie as much.
  • Presentation: 3/5 – This is a very mixed bag. Usually I will praise a kaiju movie for its presentation, but here it just comes off as standard at best and poor at worst. The greenscreen and CGI is horribly dated, the Mothra puppets look really stiff and have very little life, and the aerial fights between the Shobijin and Belvera were and absolute snore. The best part of the movie was Desghidorah who really did have some wonderful puppetry work and great movement.
  • Enjoyability: 2/5 – The movie’s biggest sin is that it’s just not that fun. The combination of a bare bones plot, the messy pacing, the dumb characters and the somewhat lackluster monster action just made this movie tedious at best.
  • (Unique Grade) Monster…ness: 3/5 – To the movies credit Desghidorah certainly looks to part of a destructive monster and Mothra Leo looks cool and showcases some hilariously OP abilities, but other than that the monster action feels very stiff and impractical compared to other kaiju fights. It was nice to see a mini Mothra again though, but when the highlight of your movie is the chibi version of the actual monster, you know we have a problem.

Final Grade: 2.5/5


I went into the movie with high hopes, and unfortunately I wasn’t pleased. The movie suffers from odd pacing, generally underwhelming or downright annoying characters and subpar presentation, ultimately making for an annoyingly long and boring film. I have hopes that the other two movies in the trilogy improve as I am going to persist with these movies. If I was to really stretch it, this movie is fine for kids, it’s a harmless story and can be entertaining if you like the older more campy kaiju movies, but otherwise it’s one of the lesser kaiju movies I’ve seen in recent years, not terrible but not great either. Give it a watch only if you’re curious.

Thank you for reading I hope you enjoyed it. If you did please consider leaving a like and following my blog for updates on future posts. Also follow me on twitter @joe_reviews for further updates and general nonsense. Till next time.

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