Ahh… The Sequel Curse. Displayed here in full force.
We are lucky enough here at SKREEONK.com to have some exceptional members of the Kaiju Fan Network. One such member is Kyono Rei, who is kind enough to grace us with reviews of the ROM Trilogy (for better or worse!). Kyono is of Japanese descent, and speaks English not as her second, but third language . Her following review is from the original Japanese version of the film. After that, we have the ever reliable, oh so wise Tohosaurus‘ take on ROMII:
Well this is yet another kiddy film and a seuel to the 1996 one. So how is this different from the previous? Let’s find out!
Again we have the big bad monster trying to destroy humanity goided by the evil shobijin. Overall this entry has a much more disney-adventure film feel than the previous one. It lacks that “disaster film” feel of the first entry and in my opinion also is less of a kaiju film in general. Its more a fantasy-adventure-exploration film similar in style to such film as the 1985 american “The Goonies”.
It is also even more light-toned. There are no real brutal scenes at all, the Mothra is not really in any big danger and the most scary element are probably the human “bounty hunter” type helpers of the main baddie. Which is not saying much mind you, as even they don’t turn out to be very evil or cruel and decide to help the protagonists at the end. There are a few “destruction” scenes like when the big bad monster destroys a sub or crashes through a city. You won’t see people die on screen or anything drastic though.
This makes the film easily acceptable even for preschoolers and sensitive kids – there is nothing in the film that might make them cry of be afraid. The downside of this is that the film isn’t as half as dramatic as the first one and lacks suspense.
To make matters worse, the film (especially the first part) has some very unsuccessfull attempts at comedy and comic relief which just doesn’t wok. The jokes are mostly physical jokes and puns that are not funny.
Lucky for us, the bad comedy elements become rare after the first half-hour of the film.
This film (unlike the first and last movie of the trilogy which were directed by Yoneda) was directed by Miyoshi Kunio and I personally think that he is to blame for much of what is wrong with this film.
The music fits the adventure theme of the film, does what its supposed to, but is otherwise rather forgettable. We have one shobijin song when they call Mothra and that’s that. Guess the directors learned from the previous film that making this a musical is not such a good idea.
A large part of the cast remains the same – all the shobijin are played by the actors from the first part and generally their performance is on pair with that from the first film. There are new child characters and while as far as the screenplay goes they are ok, the child actors are pretty poor and they all seem somewhat “artificial” in their performance and this does hurt the overall feel of the film.
There are also two “bounty hunter” type adult characters that initially work for the main baddie, but then gradually drift away from her and ultimately help the antagonists. To be honest, theese roles had potential, there was a possibility to depict them as morally ambiguous, but not one-dimensional characters. However the actors fail to capitalize on this and their performance is bland, unremarkable and forgettable. Too bad really.
Overall the actors we saw in the first movie keep up their acceptable level, while sadly the new actors are not on pair.
Mothra is still the same cuddly fluffball from the first movie, some like the design, some do not. At one point mothra changes into an aquatic form and this form looks very plastic, unattractive and unconvincing if you ask me.
The new evil kaiju is Daghara, she has a somewhat aquatic iguana-esque look. She does have that Showa kaiju vibe when it comes to looks at I think taht looks-wise she is cool kaiju. Not as nice as DesGhidorah, but Daghara gets some points for originality. I think overall its a cool design. What I don’t like is how Daghara fights, but I’ll expand on that further on.
Props, Special Effects&Battles
First of all the battles are now exclusively ranged-projectile based ones. This takes a lot of dramatism out of it and generally dissolves into big beam-laser fights. I honestly don’t like this, it makes the fights very anticlimatic and frankly speaking – boring.
Special effects continue to be of the same sort as in the first film, but generally there are more bad SFX scenes and less excuses for it. We have city-destroying scenes (a few short ones), but these are very bland there is maybe one scene where they destroy a scale model building and taht’s that. This doesn’t come close to Showa films or early Heisei stuff like Biollante or Godzilla 1984.
Oh and I almost forgot to mention the probably most corny, campy and bad scene in kaiju history. Mothra actually uses its beam to make the ocean waters part in two like some sort of Moses from 1950s US films. Seriously, this is the epitome of bad B-movie scenes, it is much worse than the flying Godzilla of “Godzilla vs Hedorah” fame >.<
Admittedly, there are a few nicer examples of SFX, especialy how Nilai Kanai ruins are depicted. But even with Nilai-Kanai its a hit-and-miss thing. Some effects and parts of the pyramid props look great, but other feel plastic and very artificial.
All in all, I’m dissapointed with how the battles and special effects work in this film. This is one of the film’s low points.
As for props – We get a new magical animal called Ghogo which probably was supposed to be cute, but fails miserably at it.
The shobijin’s outfits are nice, but not as cool as the ones from the first film. The exception is the costume of the “evil” shobijin Belvera. Last time around she had that “siouxie sioux” attire, but now she has a very different one – sort of a dark version of tinkerbell from Peter Pan. In my own opinion, this outfit looks cool, its both slightly dark and slightly cute at the same time and this combination works well for this character.
Ok, final summary:
The Good: The film is lighter and thus better suited for preschoolers and very young children, the new Daghara kaiju design is nice.
The Bad: The new actors are pretty poor, the humor here is bad and not funny, the special effects are bland and unremarkable, the battles are anticlimatic and boring, the plot lacks dramatic moments
All in all the film works best when it draws elements from the first film – like some of the actors and some of the vibe. However, there are just too many things that go wrong and too many elements that get botched – bad humor, bland special effects, poor new actors, boring combat scenes… all this makes “Rebirth of Mothra 2” a much weaker film than the first.
If you are a big Mothra fan, you might want to see this and hardcore kaiju fans might want to have a look to see the the Daghara new kiju design. But other than that, its best just to skip this one. Its not worth it.
– Kyono Rei
Rebirth of Mothra II
A weak sequel to Rebirth of Mothra
Man oh man, has Mothra become a super monster or what? Transforming into aqua modes and all, woo! I also have to give Toho credit for coming up with an original monster that looks good. To continue, the plot isn’t bad either. The ancient empire theme is cool, as is their architecture. But I have to say this movie has some serious execution issues. The plot is totally ruined by this movie’s massive pacing problem. By the middle of the movie I was antsy, and it genuinely feels like a movie that exceeds two hours long. I was watching it with a couple of other people, and one had simply fallen asleep. This picture also slips even further into the kid-zone with the Furby looking thing and continuing with the children leads. I found this partially odd with them having become friends with a pair of grown men that they don’t know. When’s the last time you encouraged kids to make friends with strangers? But I guess that’s missing the point.
Mothra Leo comes in three forms this time around. The standard Leo moth suit looks decent as it did last time and the same goes for the lightly revised Rainbow Mothra suit. Aqua Mothra has a very interesting take on what the Mothra design would look like as a sea dwelling creature. Toho did a pretty good job there. The same goes for Dagahra, who looks cool and manages to put up a good fight. All of these suits if nothing else do look like reasonable quality, hence me giving a high score to the quality of the monster aesthetics for this movie.
The special effects are often unimpressive but don’t really tread into “awful” territory. The battle scenes may leave something to be desired, and one part of the battle is so drawn out that the movie gets boring all over again. The score is pretty uninspiring. This movie just fails to movie the enjoyment meter in any real way, this despite the good looking monsters. Since there really isn’t much of anything connecting the three Rebirth of Mothra films, you might as well skip this one and go straight to Rebirth of Mothra III.