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Mothra: SteelBook Edition (1961) - Blu-ray Review

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Mothra (1961)

Vampire plants!  Gigantic eggs!  And a really BIG moth!  That’s right, Mothra is happening all over again . . . except this time its satire and its science fiction can be viewed in sparkling blu-ray. 

"It's easy to see how this beloved monster got to star in over 14 films"


Deep in a radioactive area of a small island in the Pacific, a search and rescue mission for the crew of the Daini-Gen'you-Maru gets an unexpected surprise when they discover, of all things, an unexpected group of natives.  It is a rare find and it sends shockwaves along the ocean.  Many nations are concerned.  These people aren’t supposed to exist and, thanks to a magic elixir given to the sailors, none of them have been exposed to ANY radiation.  How is this possible?  What other secrets are known to these island inhabitants?

This is the beginning concern of 1961’s Mothra.  Directed by Ishirō Honda and produced by Toho Studios, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, the fan favorite film – being the first female Kaiju flick – is now issued on blu-ray thanks to Mill Creek.  The film, especially in a modern day viewing, is a rollicking affair.  It's easy to see how this beloved monster got to star in over 14 films.

Both batshit crazy and equally beautiful, Mothra is a monster flick that definitely doesn’t disappoint, radiating a more impactful note than it probably did in its original run, thanks to an invulnerable monster and a script from Shinichi Sekizawa (Fearful Attack of the Flying Saucers) that recycles much of the Godzilla lore in all the right ways.

And it starts with the ill-advised kidnapping of twin 12-inch fairies (Ito Emi and Ito Yumi).  They represent a sort of spiritual bridge between the natural world and the world of the humans.  Obviously, they don’t want to be discovered . . . nor do they wish to leave the island either.  But when one crazed capitalist, Jerry Ito as Clark Nelson, swipes them for profit, Mothra is summoned by the inhabitants and, damn, is this Kaiju just about the most stunning creation ever. 

When  reporter Zenichiro Fukuda ( Frankie Sakai) and photographer Michi Hanamura (Kyōko Kagawa) are criticized for not spilling the beans earlier on the fairies, they find themselves teaming up once again to get the twins back to Mothra, who is tearing up the Japanese mainland in search of that whom she protects.

With cinematographer Koizumi Hajime in tow, Mothra delivers a beautiful-looking Tohoscope flick that is bright and vivacious and all sorts of playful.  This film was, after all, marketed for kids and, yeah, Mothra (as a monster) delivers plenty of action and destruction that kids will STILL get a kick out of, especially thanks to Mill Creek’s blu-ray.   From her humble beginnings as a caterpillar galloping across land AND power lines to the first time she takes flight, this transfer is AWESOME.  Mothra (1961)

The film covers radio waves, telepathic abilities, and a whole lot of napalm in its running time.  Anything to stop the forward crawl of the monstrous maggot.  And then, when the humans think they have the bug beaten, she transforms into something extraordinary! 

While cheesy and full of stock characters, the film remains a personal favorite of mine as I still enjoy watching Mothra in all her glory – starting as a gigantic caterpillar who makes its way across the Pacific Ocean, smashing into boats and surviving napalm attacks – and now the film can be enjoyed on blu-ray.

Mothra has arrived on the mainland once again!

4/5 beers

Mothra (1961)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Mill Creek Entertainment
Available on Blu-ray
- July 9, 2019
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
Japanese: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

The uncut version of Toho’s 1961 offering looks pretty sharp on this AVC encoded 1080p transfer.  Not only is it the best this film has ever looked in the States that I’ve ever seen the picture itself is actually really good.  The print being used is clean of scratches with the only signs of damage coming briefly from some of the stock footage used throughout the film.  There are two tracks presented here with the original Japanese audio with optional subtitles and the English dub both in Mono.  They both sound flawless in my opinion with the weaker of the two being the English dub as it sounds a bit loud and compressed.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There is one featuring Japanese sci-fi historians Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski.

Special Features:

  • Teaser
  • Trailer
  • Image Gallery

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

3.5/5 stars

Mothra (1961)

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
101 mins
Director
: Ishirô Honda
Writer:
Shin'ichi Sekizawa
Cast:
Furankî Sakai, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kyôko Kagawa
Genre
: Fantasy | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Tagline:
THE MOST FANTASTIC LOVE EVER!,,,BETWEEN THE MOST MONSTROUS BEAST EVER CREATED AND THE TINIEST WOMEN EVER BORN!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Mothra, she'll rescue us, and return us to our island!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Columbia Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 10, 1962
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 9, 2019
Synopsis: Following reports of human life on Infant Island, the supposedly deserted site of atomic bomb tests, an international expedition to the heavily-radiated island discovers a native tribe and tiny twin female fairies called "Shobijin" who guard a sacred egg. The overzealous expedition leader kidnaps the Shobijin to exhibit in a Tokyo stage show but soon they summon their protector, hatching the egg and releasing a giant caterpillar. When Mothra arrives in Japan and finally transforms into the ultimate beast, impervious to modern weapons, the nation and its people face their destruction.

Mothra (1961)

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