The Rebirth of Mothra series finds its groove before Toho brings it to an end
King Ghidorah killed the dinosaurs. They don’t teach that in science class.
Toho’s dazzling three-headed dragon, first birthed into cinemas in 1964 (in a self-titled debut) with Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster, rises here to sock Mothra with electrical beams and bursts of impressive fire. So indestructible is this Ghidorah interpretation, Mothra has to bend the rules of time to battle the beast in an era dominated by Triceratops and T-Rexes.
The final entry in the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy sees the child-friendly series settling and becoming comfortable with twisting the ideals of good and evil. Miniature antagonist Belvera (Aki Hano) switches up, turning sympathetic from her predictable routine of evil doer-ness to perform some family bonding with her colorful sisters, the Elias.
Keeping its link to children, Mothra III is eclectic and lightly scary for small age groups, showing kids in a stare down with the 200+ foot Ghidorah as he imprisons them for unclear reasons, but making for a nice set piece as a young boy must overcome the burden of fear.
Returning director from the first Rebirth of Mothra, Okihiro Yoneda, builds a convincing brawl as the energy of the piece picks up from a pacing lull. Mothra, back in the domain of terrible lizards, uses her ingenuity and spunk to fend off an impossible foe. And conceptually, Mothra III dazzles with multiple forms of Mothra and dual King Ghidorahs, easily the premiere designs of the creature across all of his appearances.
Refreshingly conclusive, Toho’s marketing side provides the benefit of knowing this is the final entry, allowing for satisfying closure on a (very) loosely connected series. While composite effects are still groan-inducing and the dinosaur effects are amongst the worst since the 1960s, the rest comes through as a “no expense spared” fantasy. Variety is high, offering a blend of physical attacks edited together with an array of splashy beam weapons typical to this cycle of giant monster flicks.
Mothra III is the sharpest and almost undoubtedly the richest of the trilogy, beating down the simplicity and droning qualities of the preceding features. While still hung up on pacing concerns (and those atrocious dino puppets), miniature smashing Ghidorah and the design splendor which created him can overcome any incidental sluggishness in the script.
Further creating this stand-out feature is a refreshed look, built on highlights. Contrast is unique and refuses to succumb to the drabness of previous Mothra work. Between outstanding density in the color scheme, Mothra III’s ferocious application of pure black and high-end whites are beautiful if a bit touchy in preserving details.
Sony’s mastering work is burdened by an example of a catch-all film. Resolution seems high when not amongst various special effects which do their worst to soften the material. Noise is frequently a presence, probably not helped by the encode which has to share space on the disc with Mothra II. But, Mothra III utilizes filters to add haze to many of its images at the source, then overlays those with effects. It’s difficult material no matter the circumstances.
Thus, grain structure is almost never consistent and sharpness flails. Images are either overloaded with fidelity – signifying far better mastering – or soured by the practical/digital effects mix. This is the first time Mothra III has seen home video Stateside, so at least some respect has been paid. It’s the ol’ college try of masters.
Debuting with a DTS-HD 2.0 stereo mix, Mothra III splits the front channels on occasion to capture the side-to-side action. That pressing of the stereos is infrequent though. Fight scenes feel centered and tightly so, without much exposure given to individual speakers. There has been no loss of fidelity over the years, and Toshiyuki Watanabe’s pleasingly calm score is clean.
The disc does include both Japanese and English tracks (the latter the only one with true subtitles). In comparison, the dub removes a rather substantial level of ambiance in dialog scenes. Otherwise, it feels downplayed and not destructive.
Two teasers and one full trailer are included. They stand out since they have a few deleted effects scenes.
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.