• Mothra (Mill Creek SteelBook) Blu-ray Review



    Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
    Release Date: July 30th, 1961 (theatrical) / July 9th, 2019 (blu-ray)
    Run Time: 90 mins (English version), 100 mins (Japanese version)
    Region Code: FREE
    Picture: 1080p (2.35:1) (both versions)
    Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (English version), Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio (Japanese version
    Subtitles: English
    Slipcover: Yes (clear plastic)
    Digital Copy: No
    Starring: Hiroshi Koizumi, Kyôko Kagawa, Yûmi Itô, Emi Itô, Ken Uehara, and Jerry Ito
    Written by Shin'ichi Sekizawa
    Directed by Ishiro Honda
    Rating: NR (traditional Kaiju destruction and mayhem)

    For all of the comparison photos, the 2009 Sony DVD release of Mothra was used. 

    The left picture is the Mill Creek blu-ray and the right picture is the Sony DVD.


    THE FILM ⭐⭐⭐1/2

    Shipwreck survivors are found on Beiru Island (Infanto tô), which was previously used for atomic tests. The interior is amazingly free of radiation effects, and they believe that they were protected by a special juice that was given to them by the island's residents. A joint expedition of Rolisican and Japanese scientists explores Beiru and discovers many curious things, including two women only one foot (30 centimeters) high. Unscrupulous expedition leader Clark Nelson abducts the women and puts them in a vaudeville show. But their sweet singing contains a telepathic cry for help to Mothra, a gigantic moth that is worshiped as a deity by the island people. The giant monster heeds the call of the women and heads to Tokyo, wreaking destruction in its path.

    After the success of Godzilla, Toho began to build a cinematic universe of monsters and fantastical things,  way before it was the cool thing to do. Rodan, The Mysterians, Frankenstein Conquers the World, along with many sequels to the original Godzilla were all birthed out to a public that was eating them. Not only the Japanese love these films, but so did Americans as well. These films were brought over the States, dubbed, sometimes edited to fit the American market better, and thrown on to double bills with other sci-fi films which were shown at weekend matinees all across the country. Kids would get dropped off at the theater by their parents, with some money for snacks, and the kids could enjoy two films for the price of one while getting their monster movie fill.

    I never got to see films like Mothra in the theater when I was a kid. Godzilla 1985 was a bit too much for me (or so my parents thought) so I had to miss that one even though I pleaded with my parents to let me see it. After that, the US would not see another real Godzilla film in theaters (1998 Godzilla doesn’t count as its not a real Godzilla film) until 2000 with Godzilla 2000. That was a joy to see in theaters and a lot of fun as well.

    Getting back to Mothra.




    Mothra is a really good film. Director Ishiro Honda gives us the spectacle of watching Mothra destroy buildings and bridges while giving us some really good characters who we care about. This was 1961 so the awe of seeing a film like this hadn’t worn off and filmmakers still liked making films like Mothra. It wouldn’t be until the late 60’s when filmmakers would just be going through the motions when making a Kaiju film.

    Honda also knows how to frame his shots for maximum impact as well as giving us something new. Here, he takes his camera and places it above Mothra has she makes here way to the city. This shot gives us a new perspective of seeing the giant creature from a helicopter. I have never seen this in a “giant monster” film before and applaud its inclusion. Sure, we have seen monsters from the front, coming towards us, but we had never seen the monster from above. This may not wow many people, but it did for me.

    The creature effects, done by the legendary Eiji Tsuburaya, who did effects for most of the first wave of Kaiju films that Toho produced, until his death in 1970. Not only do the two forms of Mothra look great, but Tsuburaya also did all the other effects in the film as well. He put the tiny princesses in the same shot as regular-sized humans and making it believable. He would even place effects on top of each other giving us some truly epic shots.

    Mothra is a very entertaining film. The film moves at a great place and isn’t too long, something that monster movies, and any other movies, can’t say today. The acting is great and the characters are well written. The effects are the reason we go to see Kaiju films and they are expertly done. There is one complaint that I have of the film, but it would be giving away a key component of the film, so I will not say it here. I can guarantee that most people know what I am talking about and will agree with me. Do yourself a favor and see Mothra.


    THE PICTURE AND THE SOUND ⭐⭐⭐ / ⭐⭐⭐

    Presented in the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, Mothra looks good. Detail is good with close-ups offering the best instances. Colors are good as well as are skin tones. There are a lot of imperfections found throughout the film. Scratches, hairs, specks, uneven and “stuck” grain. This is taken from an older master that Sony used for their DVD release of Mothra 10 years ago, so this is a fairly dated transfer. That being said, I think it looks fine for being as old as it is. Both versions of the film found on this disc feature the same transfer.


    The sound comes in the form of two DTS-HD Master Audio tracks. One for the English version and one for the Japanese version. Both tracks are very balanced except for the Japanese track which loses its way towards the end. Dialogue on this track, during the climax of the film, come be inaudible at times. Other than this complaint, the tracks do well in all other instances.

    THE PACKAGING ⭐⭐⭐⭐

    Mill Creek has gone the extra mile for this release of Mothra. They have decided to package the blu-ray inside of one of the nicest SteelBooks I have seen in quite a while.




    The blu-ray is encased inside of a plastic slipcover that contains some of the elements found on the front cover and all of the text, screenshots, tech and special features info.

    The front cover features the film’s original theatrical poster with the film’s title being displayed on a banner. Mothra is seen ripping through the top of the banner with two jets flying towards Mothra, missles a-flyin'. The two pixies are seen at the bottom of the art as is the Infant Island.


    Removing the slipcover, we see that the missles, planes, and the pixies are now gone. We do see Mothra in her larva state at the bottom where the pixies used to be.


    The back cover is completely different. Gone is all the text. In place of the text is a collage of Mothra in her various stages throughout the film.


    The inner art shows the scientists finding the pixies.


    The disc art shows Mothra flying away after emerging from her cocoon.

    The disc is REGION FREE

    THE FEATURES ⭐⭐⭐


    English Version Audio Commentary. This track, brought over from the Sony DVD release, features authors and Japanese film experts Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski. This is a very informative track, but it is a very dry track. Both commentators have written out every aspect of their track before hand so there is no banter between the two. Many tracks over the years have been done this way, mostly by historians, and it has turned many a person off from listening to these types of tracks. While I understand where they are coming from, I have always found these tracks to be very informative and worth at least one listen. Everything is covered here, from the history of the film to the lives of the cast and crew.

    Teaser (1m 25s, SD, 1.33:1) This is an interesting teaser as there is no footage from the film anywhere to be found. Instead, we get still images of what the people who made the teaser thought the film might have in it. All of these images are in black and white. Also, the announcer refers to Mothra has a “he” many times throughout this teaser.

    Trailer (1m 55s, SD, 1.66:1) Titles onscreen: “Mothra: The Monster God”

    Image Gallery (50 images)


    OVERALL ⭐⭐⭐1/2

    Mothra is a very good film. Some will find the film cheesy or schlocky. I happen to really like the film and I do recommend the film to almost everyone, other than cynics who think that they know the answer to all of any film's problems or what they perceive to be problems. Mothra reminds of a better time when the magic of film could capture anyone. This blu-ray, from Mill Creek, is very nice and deserves a place on any fan's shelf.

    MORE SCREENSHOTS








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