Action Adventure

Metamorphosis of a Blu-ray Review: Rebirth of Mothra Trilogy

September 27, 2014Ben MK

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Bullet with butterfly wings...

Godzilla may be the most well-known of Toho's kaiju creations, but when it comes to defending the planet against the wrath of more fearsome colossi, he's not alone. At the height of Godzilla's popularity, Toho also gave him two equally-powerful compatriots: the giant, prehistoric turtle known as Gamera and Mothra, a gargantuan — well — moth. Then, in the mid-nineties, it debuted the first of what was to become a new Gamera trilogy; and shortly thereafter, a Mothra trilogy followed. Now, that latter series of films — dubbed the Rebirth of Mothra Trilogy — has arrived on Blu-ray.


The Films Encompassing 1996's Rebirth of Mothra, 1997's Rebirth of Mothra II: Armageddon Under Water and 1998's Rebirth of Mothra III: King Ghidorah's Attack, the trilogy — as the title implies — is all about the passing of the torch to a new generation, with a new Mothra inheriting the mantle of Earth's most powerful eco-friendly savior.

In Rebirth of Mothra, the new Mothra must battle Desgidora, a fire-breathing, three-headed dragon (not to be confused with King Ghidorah) who — thanks to logging efforts on the part of a company called the Houkoku Corporation — is freed from his magical entombment deep below the floor of the Hokkaido forest. When a foreman for the company unwittingly removes the sacred Seal of the Elias — which blocks the entrance to Desgidora's prison chamber — the evil fairy, Belvera (Aki Hano), seizes the opportunity to summon the mythical creature. Though she intends on using Desgidora as her slave, Belvera quickly finds that, on the contrary, the beast cannot be controlled. And ultimately, it falls upon twin nymphs Lora and Moll (Sayaka Yamaguchi and Megumi Kobayashi) to summon Mothra and send Desgidora back to his subterranean tomb, before he drains the planet of its life force.

Mothra returns in Rebirth of Mothra II: Armageddon Under Water, this time to square off against Dagahra, a fearsome giant that thrives on garbage and pollution, created by a long-forgotten race called the Ninai Kanai. Thought to have sunk to the bottom of the ocean eons ago, the Ninai Kanai's kingdom — a massive pyramid structure — has suddenly resurfaced off the coast of Okinawa Island, and with it so too has the threat of Dagahra, not to mention the rumors of the Ninai Kanai's legendary treasure, returned.

Last but not least, in Rebirth of Mothra III: King Ghidorah's Attack, Mothra is summoned one more time, to stop the prehistoric monster, King Ghidorah, from extinguishing the lives of every person on Earth. As it turns out, King Ghidorah is the reason the dinosaurs went extinct; and now he's returned — 130 million years later — to deliver the same fate to the human race. But in order to defeat him, not only must Mothra fight King Ghidorah in the present day, it must also do so in the prehistoric past. This final installment of the trilogy also devotes some time to exploring the relationship between Lora (portrayed this time by Misato Tate), Moll and Belvera, and their intrinsic connection via the Elias Triangle, a magical artifact which possesses the power to protect us all from annihilation.

Aside from the obvious environmental overtones of each film, there's one other thing that's constant throughout all three movies, and that's the theme of family. Mothra, as a character, has always held an appeal for younger audiences, so it's unsurprising that families — more specifically, children — figure prominently as protagonists in each film's storyline. In fact, whenever Mothra and its foes aren't on-screen, the focus is usually on the kids, as they try to help Mothra vanquish their mutual enemies.

The end result is three very family-friendly Kaiju films — which may be off-putting to some giant monster enthusiasts — but you have to realize that when you're dealing with a giant moth who usually defeats its foes by dousing them liberally in pixie dust, there are few other directions the series could have gone. In general, the Rebirth of Mothra Trilogy should still satisfy viewers' cravings for traditional man-in-a-rubber-suit-versus-puppet Kaiju-on-Kaiju action (or hokey, yet strangely endearing, CG effects); just bear in mind the target audience.

Audio/Visual Fidelity The Rebirth of Mothra Trilogy joins the ranks of Sony's Toho Godzilla Collection with uniformly pleasing A/V presentations for all three films. Free of unsightly visual blemishes like macroblocking, artifacting and banding, the hi-def transfers are awash in bright, well-saturated colors (most notably Lora and Moll's costumes) and a healthy layer of grain, creating a very film-like image. Although the picture can appear somewhat soft at times (a characteristic that owes to the nature of the source photography itself), overall detail is sufficient to allow for such things as the texture of the Mothra puppet to be easily discernible. Contrast, black levels and shadow detail are also quite satisfying, with black crush rearing its head on only a handful of occasions.

Audio-wise, each film sports a pair of DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mixes (one for the original Japanese audio and one for the English dub). Both language tracks provide a comparable listening experience (the usual issues with English dubs notwithstanding), and although lacking in LFE support, they still manage to convey the sonic dynamics of the films fairly well. From Mothra's screeches to the roars of Desgidora, Dagahra and King Ghidorah (not to mention all the explosions, rumbling and crumbling that can be heard during their battles), the soundtracks bring to life the movies' imaginative sound design with vivid detail. Dialogue always remains intelligible, and trilogy composer Toshiyuki Watanabe's heroic-sounding score makes an impact as well.

Special Features Sony's 2-disc Blu-ray release includes UltraViolet digital copies of the films, as well as a batch of original trailers for each film. Disc one, which houses Rebirth of Mothra, contains four such trailers for the movie (three teasers and one theatrical trailer), totalling 4 minutes, whereas disc two, which houses both sequels, contains four trailers for Rebirth of Mothra II: Armageddon Under Water (three teasers and one theatrical trailer) and three trailers for Rebirth of Mothra III: King Ghidorah's Attack (two teasers and one theatrical trailer), altogether totalling 8 minutes.

The Bottom Line Like all Kaiju films, there's a certain amount of goofiness inherent in the premise. But the Rebirth of Mothra Trilogy is perhaps a little goofier than usual, especially considering its status as family entertainment. Still, if you think of Mothra as Godzilla-lite, you should have no problem enjoying these films, as the creature designs and one-on-one monster action offer plenty of bang for your buck. Sony's Blu-ray release also offers good value, by including all three films (the third being available for the first time ever in North America) with satisfying A/V presentations. And even though the bonus features leave something to be desired, that makes the Rebirth of Mothra Trilogy on Blu-ray worthy of your consideration.  Ben Mk

Disc Breakdown
The Films  —  
Audio/Visual Fidelity  —  
Special Features  —  

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