Friday, December 23, 2011

in conversation with Minikhan: Mothra vs. Godzilla

When members of the Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit decided to play Secret Santas, I knew I would be in for a treat. Last week I opened my mysterious package to find Mothra vs. Godzilla (trailer here)—a film I knew only by reputation, and what a reputation!—courtesy of Monster Island Resort. A perfect emissary, I think, given that it features two monsters (or four, depending on if you count species or individuals), a very important island, and a sub-plot about a theme park.

Minikhan: People know that we know this isn't an Indian movie, right?
Beth: I hope so. I think they even know that we watch non-Indian things fairly often, though mostly of the tv variety, and we generally don't write about them here.
Minikhan: I haven't seen a lot of films from the non-subcontinent parts of Asia.
Beth:
Nor have I. My dad may have taken me to re-runs of monster movies at Saturday matinees when I was young—this is the same man who took me to Monty Python and the Holy Grail when I was only eight—but I don't remember. The only Japanese movies I do remember with certainty are Funky Forest and Big Man Japan...which means that Mothra vs. Godzilla felt incredibly comprehensible. 
Minikhan: It's pretty linear, isn't it? An unusual but nature-based event occurs. Humans respond foolishly. Monsters representing nature's innate goodness and humankind's technological hubris show up and fight it out. Humans are saved by the nature/mother figure. The circle of life continues.

Beth: Not that I'm confident I thoroughly understood all of the film's messages, but my only lingering question is what to make of Godzilla himself. Bollywood-brain makes me think everyone is either heroic or evil. And I realized after reading about the film in WTF-Film [linked below], the story has at least one moment of showing a different interpretation of Godzilla's actions: on one of his rampages, he kills the most idiotic and amoral of the humans, making him a sort of judge figure
Minikhan: Should we assume Godzilla did that on purpose? He didn't seem to be seeking them out specifically.
Beth: I think for Godzilla it was a coincidence, but for the audience it's a nice bit of irony. It's fun to imagine Godzilla sighing "You morons. How many times am I going to have to reappear before you figure it out?"
Minikhan: Fellow MOSS agent The Horror said of Godzilla: "He suddenly appears, either awoken or created by an H-bomb. Tends to be rather grumpy in this part of his career." But that doesn't answer what his most fundamental nature is. Would he have been out to destroy human civilization if he hadn't been nuked?  
Beth: That's what I wonder. If he was just an innocent creature going about his business and we somehow turned him into a villain, I would feel really bad for him. 
Minikhan: But if his base instinct is to kill humans, it's okay to try to electrocute him in a giant net?
Beth: Well, no, but at least it makes some sort of pragmatic sense. A simple battle for survival is less ethically murky. Cruelly fighting something that we forced to be our enemy is more painful.
Minikhan: Godzilla has such a sad, desolate cry. It was hard not to feel for him. 
Beth! He does! Watching him try to free his tail from that giant metal tower was so heart-wrenching!
Minikhan: There was something dog-like in some of those movements. Dog slash dinosaur slash elephant slash AT-AT Walker. 

Beth: The contrast between the two creatures was so well done. Godzilla is dark, scaly, and heavy, while Mothra is fuzzy, colorful, and light; Godzilla just stomps around and roars, while Mothra actually thinks and has a sense of morals. But both are clearly so powerful. They make a great adversarial pair.
Minikhan: It's like Arjun Rampal and non-miniKhan all over again.
Beth: I assume Arjun is Godzilla in this scenario?
Minikhan: Mothra would make a good Bollywood mother: self-sacrificing for her children and the larger good.

Beth: What did you think of the musical numbers? I wasn't expecting those at all and was very pleasantly surprised by them.
Minikhan: The fairies from Mothra's island [Emi and Yumi Ito] have gorgeous voices! Clear and rich and the composer gave them some lush alto lines.
Beth: My only music-related complaint is that there should have been more time given to the islanders doing their big chant/prayer thing in their pseudo-Oceanic feathery outfits with the huge stone heads and colored lighting all around while Mothra's egg hatches and the grand, bombastic music plays.
Minikhan: That might be the Bollywood talking.
Beth: As is to be expected. But really, why hire and costume all those extras—and paint them orange!—if you're not going to use them?

Minikhan: It was all really fun.
Beth: And it had dil-squish too.
Minikhan: Do I sense many more hours of colorful puppets and people stomping around in rubber suits in our future?

Here's another review of Mothra vs. Godzilla by fellow MOSS agent WTF-Film. To read about my Secret Santa gift to the almighty Teleport City, the Hindi horror movie music compilation Bollywood Bloodbath, click here.

4 comments:

Todd said...

Brilliant! I love how you so effortlessly broke the movie down to its essence and so obviously had fun doing so. I sincerely hope there are more Godzilla movies in your future, and more of your reviews of same for the rest of us.

Keith said...

And if you are looking for lavish musical numbers, Godzilla vs the Sea Monster delivers. I mean, it opens with a go-go dancing competition!

vinay said...

Interesting... it was really fun and worth reading ...

Bharat Movies said...

It's Very Interesting