Rebirth of Mothra III concludes the trilogy with better designs, a tighter story, and the return of the King. Ghidorah, that is.
Rebirth of Mothra III is the most mature film in the series. Not mature in the grim and gritty sense, but in the sense that it’s plot and characters arcs are the most coherent and fully realized. It’s what the first two wish they could be when they grow up. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s without its flaws, but what it gets wrong is much more forgivable, and almost endearing in one case, in the face of what it gets right.
The series’ environmentalist bent is dropped for a simpler and focused look at courage and family ties. The human protagonist is Shota, a teenage boy who’s been absent from school for a while thanks to a vague anxiety. He’s got a supportive family, but somethings got to give soon. When Grand King Ghidorah crashes down from space and starts abducting children, Shota’s got to get it together to save his two younger siblings. As he grows and gathers his courage, he also helps resolve the ancient conflict between the Elias sisters.
Kudos is due to the costume designer for making the Elias look like ancient royalty in this film, a significant improvement to their previous looks. It also helps that they aren’t just accessories to the plot, like in Rebirth II. Not only is their history important to the film, but more importantly their relationship is in focus as they finally learn to get along. It takes some serious adversity to finally make Belvera realize just how pointless her whole revenge scheme against humanity would be if it means the loss of her sisters. Belvera’s redemption is a little too convenient, but it’s not that hard to accept.
My favorite kaiju, King Ghidorah, swings by to lend the finale a welcome sense of dread and danger. This time he comes in both “Grand” and “Cretaceous” flavor. Personally I prefer Cretaceous King Ghidorah’s saurian style, but they’re both great designs. Rainbow Mothra, Leo’s base form upgrade from the last film, gives an impressive showing in Rebirth III’s fight scenes. The puppet has great articulation which lends credibility to the fights, especially when he’s getting pummeled and we see him writhing on the ground in pain. It definitely helps the audience build an empathetic connection to your unreal hero when you see him experience pain in what looks like a very real manner. The filmmakers weren’t afraid to get up close and give the kaiju distinct personality through movement. Even the animatronic dinosaur miniatures have interesting expressions.
Rebirth of Mothra III’s strength lies in its characters, human, fairy, or other. Shota’s path to courage is fun to watch, and since it’s tied to the Elias sisters’ story, it doesn’t feel like an afterthought that weighs the film down. The Elias sisters finally get some much needed character development, which makes their reunion pretty endearing. I have no idea why Grand King Ghidorah shows up to kidnap schoolkids, but that silly plotline is balanced with classic scenes of the destruction he’s known best for. Mothra Leo’s victory feels earned this time around, instead of just the inevitable event it’s been before. All in all, Rebirth III is my favorite Mothra-centric piece.
Film Club Discussion Topic: Now that we’re done with the trilogy, sound off with your thoughts about what you liked or disliked about any of the three films.
In two weeks we’ll be taking a look at Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis.