Saturday, 25 April 2015

Rebirth of Mothra (1996)

So, one day a big logging company finds an ancient seal, so one of their executives takes it home and gives it to his daughter as a present. Turns out, though, that this seal being in place was the only thing stopping an evil fairy called Belvera from summoning a horrible monster, so she does, and it's up to the good fairies, the Elias (not the Shobijin for some reason) to summon Mothra to save the day. Oh and that exec's family were all drifitng apart, but they bond of the shared trauma of being caught up in a battle between enormous powerful beings and remember that they all love each other. Aww.

The horrible monster in question is named Desghidorah, and like long-time Toho antagonist King Ghidora, it's a giant evil three-headed dragon, but it's black and grey instead of gold. It's not just a simple, lazy recolour, though, as Desghidorah has four legs, shorter necks and a stockier build in general, as well as having a spikier and more agressive/less regal to it. The easy thing to do here would be to assume that Desghidorah's design is simply supposed to be a Satanic-looking Ghidorah variant, but I think it could be interpreted as representing pollution and unchecked industrialism.

Desghidorah is black and grey and spiky, and its powers include breathing fire and causing the ground to explode, while Mothra is a goddess that exists to protect all life on earth, and is implied to be connected to the earth's lifeforce. In fact (and there are spoilers from this point on), when the original Mothra is killed, one of her larvae creates a cocoon for itself to transform into a new Mothra, named Mothra Leo. This scene happens in the midst of incredibly lush greenery, and is interspersed with footage of animals living peacefully in the wild. Furthermore, Belvera rides around on a mean little robotic dragon named Garu Garu, while the Elias ride on a cute tiny Mothra named Fairy Mothra.

Anyway, Rebirth of Mothra is a pretty good film. I can't say it's one of my all-time favourite kaiju movies, but it's definitely worth a watch. This is thanks in no small part to the effects: Toho were really making incredible monster effects in the late 80s through to the 90s, and this movie is no exception. The monsters, minature sets, pyrotechnics and other effects all look amazing, and it's made even more impressive by the fact that none of the monsters in this movie are humanoid or even bipedal. Despite this handicap, the battles also look great, when they could easily have ended up looking like two inanimate puppets smashing into each other.

The only part I didn't really like was the ending, where the dad of the family looks out at the devastation caused by Desghidorah and/or the logging company and vows to change his ways and help create a better world for future generations. Then Mothra Leo flies overhead and magically turns the wasteland into a vast, fertile meadow. It's all a bit sappy to be honest. But yeah, as long as you turn it off after Desghidorah gets re-sealed, Rebirth of Mothra is a great movie.
(This movie is also known as Mothra, but if you call it that, then people will think you're talking about the 1961 movie of the same name.)

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Books of Magic #24

Hello! You might know my other blog, Lunatic Obscurity, where I review obscure old videogames in an attempt to save them from damnation (in the Fortean sense of the word). Because I have many thoughts about comics, TV shows, movies and other miscellany, I've started another blog (this one). This blog will probably be pretty different in tone and content to the other one, since it I do plan on it mainly being an outlet for thoughts, rather than the opinionated reviews of LO, but who knows how much of this will end up being true?

For the inaugural post on this blog, I've picked a single issue of a comic, and it's a single issue that represents various firsts for me: the first comic I'd ever read that was marked "for mature readers", the first time I'd ever seen fairies depicted as anything other than harmless creatures in childrens' stories, and probably the first comic I'd ever read that didn't contain any action. Read without the context of the issues preceding it, this issue is about a girl going up a hill, reading a letter and meeting a fairy. Though it doesn't sound like the kind of thing that would appeal to a 10-year-old boy,it totally enthralled me! I'd never seen anything like it before!

It wasn't set in a city acting as a superhero habitat, or a futuristic dystopia, but in the Irish countryside. A countryside, which, as depicted in this comic at least, bore more than a passing resemblence to the Yorkshire countryside that surrounded the village where I lived. The main character was just a mostly-normal teenage girl, in regular clothes. Even with the fairy and the talking stones and such, every part of it, story and art, felt totally grounded in reality. I'd never seen or read anything like it before!

I've since read the entire Books of Magic series several times, so I know all about Molly O'Reilly, Amadan, Tim Hunter and all the other things that led up to and from this issue, and though the series as a whole is one of my all-time favourites, even against the rest of the localised golden age that DC's Vertigo imprint was going through at the time, with series like The Sandman and House of Secrets alongside Books of Magic, this issue in particular will always have its own special meaning to me, for introducing me to kinds of fiction and aesthetic that were totally new to me.