Rebirth of Mothra II (1997)
This is the sequel to 1996's Rebirth of Mothra I, and the middle movie of the three-part series updating the Mothra legend. As with Rebirth of Mothra I, Rebirth of Mothra II concerns the actions of Mothra, Japan's favorite giant mutant moth. Mothra's "fairies", her tiny female attendants, are also featured players who interact with the human cast. It's substantially better than the first one, but still a pretty awful movie.
Released in Japan on December 24, 1997, it made it to America on home video in 1999, distributed by Columbia Tri-Star. For this review I will be using a VHS tape of excellent quality, a former gently-used rental copy from a shop in San Francisco. It's dubbed, but has no subtitles, which is a pain in the ass. Virtually nothing was changed from the original Japanese version and the running time is about 97 minutes.
I was not really surprised to find that director Kunio Miyoshi has only one directorial credit, this movie. Clearly Miyoshi was banned from the director's chair by Toho after this mess. On a good note, special effects director Koichi Kawakita was old school, having helmed the FX for many Heisei series Godzilla movies as well as several television series. I guess the special effects in this movie are not too bad, considering the low budget.
Rebirth of Mothra II is totally for kids, with child stars outnumbering adults on the screen most times. I watched it the first time with my three-year old First Born and he loved it! I shall try and review it with that in mind, but no promises.
And now on to our movie...
Ok, this is one of those sequels that presupposes that you have seen or are familiar with the first movie. Characters from the first movie, who much time was devoted to introductions and development the first time around, are tossed at you from scene one. Without at least a passing knowledge of the Mothra series, both modern and classic, you will be lost immediately. And, no, I'm not going to provide that for you. If you're reading this, then I will assume you know all you need to know...
That said, it's about 99% clear that this is a stand-alone movie. That is to say that the events of Rebirth of Mothra I did not happen in this timeline, nor did any other Toho monster movie, Godzilla series included. In the first movie from 1996, two big monsters thrashed Hokkaido with many witnesses and much destruction on the ground. In this movie, nobody's reactions to Mothra or any other monsters hint that Japan or the rest of the earth has ever seen anything like this before. The kids knowing Mothra's name during one scene in the pyramid can be easily explained by the twins telling them about Mothra off-camera, which they certainly had the time and motivation to do.
I should also note that the dubbing is miserable, distractingly bad most times, especially the secondary characters where they made zero effort to match voices with personality or even lip movements. It also seems like there are maybe five dubbers, tops, and they do all the voices.
Ok, back to the movie. We open by reconnecting with our three "Mothra fairies", the "Guardians of Mothra". These three sisters are apparently the last of their kind alive. They're very small, maybe just eight-inches tall, in keeping with the premise established in the earlier Mothra movies, and have many powers of telepathy and telekinesis. They are named Belvera, Lora and Moll. Lora and Moll are the same as the other Mothra twin sets we've seen before, but the older sister Belvera is new to these three 1990s Mothra movies. All three girls are played by the same actresses that were in the first movie and in keeping with a long-standing tradition in my reviews, I will refer to them as "Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen" and "Evil Bitch Sister Belvera".
Ashley (Lora) is played by 17-year old Sayaka Yamaguchi. A fairly famous pop singer and fashion model nowadays, she was a young up-and-comer at the time this movie was made. She has since become a popular TV series actress, especially in the last five years, including prime roles in Isn't Being Pretty Enough? and Top Girl. Not surprisingly, the internet is loaded with pictures of her in various alluring poses, which I checked out for...umm...research. I also just recently saw her in 2000's Tomie: Replay, where she was very cute in a bloody (literally) mess of a movie.
Mary-Kate (Moll) is played by 20-year old actress Megumi Kobayashi. Another popular singer in Japan, these three Mothra movies are her only screen credits, not even any TV work. She also has a nice collection of photos on the internet. She is considerably taller than Ashley, and certainly acts more mature, though she is not nearly as cute.
Evil Bitch Sister Belvera is played by 29-year old Aki Hano. Other than these three Mothra movies in the 1990s, she has done little work on film. I can't even find any fanboy sites on her to see what she looks like in normal clothes. This is a shame, as she is a very attractive woman. In this movie she is going for the whole pseudo-Goth punk rocker look, kind of like a Japanese Siouxie. Her English dubber sounds like the Wicked Witch of the West from every high school production of The Wizard of Oz. I like the way she snarls, though, it makes me excited...
Evil Bitch Sister Belvera.
All three wear outlandish clothes, inspired by the original Mothra fairy twins from the 1960s movies. They are in no way sexy outfits, though Ashley's legs do show quite a bit in some scenes. And, yes, Lora and Moll are not twins, persay, but I will always refer to them as such for the sake of clarity.
And yes, I basically cut-and-pasted in that last section from my review of Rebirth of Mothra I to here. The information was the same and I didn't feel like writing it all again.
We also get a first look at our titular monster, the great giant mutant moth Mothra. This is the same creature we saw at the end of Rebirth of Mothra I, but she will show us some new tricks this time around.
When we first see Mothra she is flying over Mary-Kate and Ashley as they sit on a rocky seafront on an island. I assume they are on Infant Island, Mothra's traditional South Seas home. It's a bright sunny day and all of nature is out and in bloom. Generally speaking, the optical effects in this movie are excellent for what was certainly a middle of the road budget for a kids' movie, with the CGI and puppet work blended in nicely. Kudos to special effects director Koichi Kawakita. Especially well done is a bit right here where Mothra flies over a school of dolphins. We get one shot from below the dolphins, with a hazy Mothra seen through the water.
But all is not well. Suddenly, we get some creepy noises and music cues to tell us that something is amiss with the harmony of the planet... A nasty huge monster is stirring deep beneath the waters off Okinawa and the world is in trouble.
Ok, we now go to Okinawa, Japan. The rest of the entire movie takes place in an unnamed city on the southeast coast of Okinawa and in the waters offshore. First we go out to the open sea where we see a fishing boat crew pulling in their nets. There is little but trash in the nets, and the men give us some lame environmental message about us lousy humans polluting the oceans.
Just then they notice that the water for as far as they can see is being filled with these red "starfish" thingies about the size of a dinner plate. I might as well will tell you that these starfish actually come from the giant monster Dagahra, which we will meet later, and are called Barem. The Barem are bad news. One of them somehow gets over the gunwale. It opens like a flower (or like a face-hugger pod from Alien) and spits this acid-like liquid on the face of one of the fishermen. Ouch, that has to burn.
I'm jumping out of sequence here, but a bit later the fishermen are taken to the hospital. We hear one of the men arguing with a police officer about the starfish. The cop gives the best line of the movie when he says, "Hey, we're just the police, not some kind of starfish swat team".
Over the next few scenes, we will see that the oceans are filling up with these red starfish. They are excreted from the monster that is stirring, apparently at an unbelievably fast rate. The danger is real, they will kill off all the living creatures of the earth's oceans if they are allowed to spread everywhere.
Ok, now we get to meet some of our main characters. First I have to explain something. My VHS tape copy has no cast and crew credits except the three lead girls. The box cover also has nothing, and despite my lengthy efforts I can't find anything on the internet to give me the names of more than a few of the actors. Even the great IMDB has nothing, which is annoying. Therefore, I'll have to guess a lot about their screen names, and can offer nothing about them as real live people.As this is a kid's movie, of course our heroes will be children. We go now to a middle school in Okinawa, where we meet two boys and a girl who are all about 11 or 12-years old.
The two boys are your typical weird Japanese movie kids, cardboard cutouts with little character depth. The big one is named Yoji, but I'll call him "FatKid" for this review. The smaller one is named Kobe or Kohe or something like that, but I'll call him "GeekyKid". These two boys will pretty much each wear same outfit for the entire movie, shades of Godzilla versus Gigan. GeekyKid and FatKid also carry their school backpacks around for the entire movie. They have them from the time they leave the school in the beginning of the movie to the very end, running around with them while being chased, attacked, mauled and misled. We never see what's in them, except for one brief scene where FatKid has a flashlight, presumably from his backpack. What sixth grader carries a flashlight in his backpack?
The pluck young heroine is named Shiori, I think, but I'll call her "Suzy" for the balance of this review. She's a skinny, darker-skinned girl with a surprisingly bad set of teeth. I suspect that she has been in other movies, but I can't find her name to check on that.
When we first see them they are in class, taught by a hot teacher. Suzy has a Pokemon pencil, which is cool. FatKid tries to put a caterpillar down Suzy's back. (See the irony? Mothra is a giant caterpillar...get it?) Suzy smacks the bug back at GeekyKid, and it lands in his mouth! Comedy! GeekyKid spits the caterpillar out, and it flies through the air to land DOWN THE HOT TEACHER'S BLOUSE!!! At this, the Hot Teacher screams like a little girl.
A word of note is needed here for the Hot Teacher. While I cannot find her real name anywhere, I can officially and without doubt proclaim her as the Hottest Female In Any Movie Ever Made, Ever. Wowza! I will give up my liver to any reader who can email me with her real name. Seriously. The only downside is that the girl who dubs her voice totally doesn't care about her hotness.
Now, GeekyKid and FatKid rightfully get busted for this stunt. They also get into trouble with what I guess is a gym teacher, who they have nicknamed "Hairy Wart". Suzy rats them out for that too, which was just mean. GeekyKid and FatKid blame Suzy for getting them in trouble, and plan to pound her after school for it.
Suddenly, there's an earthquake! The school shakes a bit and Hot Teacher ends up falling into Hairy Wart, wrapping her arms around his stomach!!!!!! Er...why did that just happen? Clearly Hairy Wart is secretly in love with Hot Teacher, but then again so am I.
We're never told this, but that little earthquake was supposed to herald the coming of the giant evil monster and the ocean-full of red starfish. More on that later.
Now we leave the school to meet our two main adult characters, two dimwitted dudes. They have names, I'm sure, but they're irrelevant here as I don't have subtitles. I'll call them "Dumbass1" and "Dumbass2" for this review.
I believe that Dumbass1 (the skinny one) is played by Taishu Kase, though it might be Atsushi Okuno as I can't find a picture to match up for either. In our movie he wears a Hawaiian shirt all the time and has spiked hair. Dumbass2 (the fat one) is played by Okayama Hajime. He is a portly man with an expressive face, and he wears an English-language Coca Cola t-shirt for our entire movie.
These two dudes are a mass of contradictions. They are both violent and kindly, shallow and heartfelt, and cowardly and brave, all in alternating scenes. I tried to draw some comparisons to the two dorky thieves in Godzilla's Revenge, but it hurt my brain too much to think about that horrible movie. Suffice to say that you never know one scene to the next whether or not the Dumbasses are good or bad.
We first meet the Dumbasses as they're out at sea in a fishing skiff diving for shells. They're surprised to see something jump in the boat with them. This is a tan furry little creature with no arms, two chicken feet, two beady eyes and a single antenna on top. It's about the size of a housecat and chirps like a bird, it can be described as a Furby or a Tribble or a baby Ewok. It's really a "Gorgo", and it just came up from a sunken kingdom under the sea for the first time in about 12,000 years. I'll explain this more later. I'll call it "Q-Bert" because it looks to me like it jumped out of that great 1980s arcade game. But Q-Bert is not here to see the Dumbasses, and it leaps back into the sea.
None of these are Gorgo.
We follow Suzy headed back home now, to where she apparently lives with just her mom. The sign over her mom's beachside housing complex reads "Pension Uranai" in English, which seems strange. Her mom, in one of those movie coincidences, is good friends with the Dumbasses and they are there talking with mom when Suzy arrives. They chat a bit about the furry creature they saw before. They are determined to catch it and be famous, the mom thinks they are nuts, that they just saw a "swimming dog". The Dumbasses leave then and mom tells Suzy to take a basket and go out into the nearby woods and collect some flowers for her.
The entire sequence with the two Dumbasses and Suzy's mom is a total waste. After this scene, we never see her mom again. The first time I watched it, I kept expecting to reconnect with her at some point in the movie, but it never happened. Why go to all the effort to set up the relationship between the Dumbasses and the mom if you are just going to ignore it completely for the rest of the movie? And it seems like Suzy had never met the Dumbasses before this day, which is a little weird. Wouldn't she know her mom's friends, at least by sight?
So Suzy goes out into the woods to collect some flowers for her mom. I was surprised to learn that they filmed all the woods scenes in Indonesia! This might explain why the actress playing Suzy doesn't look all that Japanese, perhaps she is a local Indonesian girl.
As she picks flowers, she happens upon Q-Bert! Why he's in the woods is unknown, but later statements suggest that Q-Bert was here looking/waiting specifically for Suzy. Anyway, Suzy freaks out and runs away. Q-Bert follows, hopping along with an anti-gravity bounce. Eventually Suzy calms down and with the innocence of all children in monster movies, she puts Q-Bert in her basket of flowers and heads home.
Suzy turns the corner and runs into FatKid and GeekyKid. Now they're still sore about getting in trouble in school and they confront Suzy. FatKid shoves Suzy pretty hard, harder than you might expect, but Suzy knocks them both down (!!!) and runs off. The boys give chase into the woods.
The boys eventually catch Suzy and are stunned when Q-Bert pops up out of the basket. As they stare at it, above them arrives Evil Bitch Sister Belvera on her Cyber-Dragon. The Cyber-Dragon (called Garu-Garu), is a William Gibsonized version of the same flying beast from Rebirth of Mothra I. In that movie, the Dragon was toasted in the final fight with Mothra, so either Evil Bitch Sister Belvera recovered and rebuilt the Dragon, or she created a new one altogether. Cyber-Dragon has an array of beam weapons and is plated with metal armor, and it actually looks cooler than it all sounds. Evil Bitch Sister Belvera spends the entire movie mounted on her flying Cyber-Dragon. In the first movie, she walked around quite a bit, but here she just flies everywhere.
Belvera zips around them, scaring the wimpy boys more so than Suzy. The Cyber-Dragon even grabs FatKid's shirt in a neat bit of matting. Just when things are getting ugly, Mary-Kate and Ashley now show up on their tiny moth fairy, from here on called "Fairy Moth". Belvera gives the movie's plot away by yelling that she "must find the Treasure of Nilai Kanai so that she can control the monster Dagahra and rule the world". It's clear that she doesn't know what the Treasure actually is, but she knows that Q-Bert is the key to getting it. Mary-Kate and Ashley are opposed to all this biting and killing and ruling so they start fighting their older sister. The twins and Belvera get into a shouting match and then start shooting energy bolts at each other. The kids take the opening and run away with Q-Bert.
So, we have the kids running through the woods, passing Q-Bert back and forth between them as Belvera chases them from the air. She zaps at them with laser bolts, missing each time. The twins on the Fairy Moth try and stop Belvera but they're generally worthless here. All the sequences of flying are blue-screened terribly, with the matte lines glaringly obvious. I know they were going for a "speeder chase in Return of the Jedi" thing, but they failed horribly.
Finally, the kids emerge from the woods and onto the beachfront. With all the people around, Belvera pulls back. FatKid has hurt his knee, skinned it up bad. Q-Bert, and yes this really happens, pisses on his wound and it magically heals! What!!! This is a uniquely Japanese thing, as I've never seen a pissing Furby in any other movie. [Editor Pam: We don't know for a fact that it's piss, it could be some special healing liquid that Q-Bert had in his pocket... No, probably not. It's consistent with the general level of humor we've seen so far in this movie.]
Having lost Q-Bert and the kids, Belvera is now pissed. She flies back into the woods and happens upon the two Dumbasses. The Dumbasses are out in the woods hunting for Q-Bert, though they don't know what it is or what it's called yet. They have spearguns and fish pokers, and seem quite certain they're looking in the right place.
When they first see Belvera, they freak out and try and shoot her with a spear. Belvera blasts them a bit and forces them to listen to her. Belvera will get the Dumbasses to do her bidding for much of the rest of the movie. We assume that they agree to work for her out of fear and fear alone, though that's not certain. Later we will see that the men are aware of all the jewels in the Pyramid, so maybe Belvera cut them a deal to share some loot if she got the Treasure.
So to learn more about Q-Bert's home, the kids and the twins go to the school library to get some information. Where are all the other kids, or teachers or anyone? Mary-Kate and Ashley talk about their sister Belvera, who is really getting bad these days, more and more evil all the time. They agree they have to stop her any way possible, sister or not.
The kids log onto a great mid-1990s Apple computer and start surfing the internet. These scenes are a great little time capsule of the early days of the internet in 1997. The computer load-up screen shows "Mac OS" in English, which is cool, and the homepage is an old school "Yahoo! Japan".
Mary-Kate and Ashley tell them that that Q-Bert is from the sunken kingdom of "Nilai Kanai", a fabled Atlantis-like kingdom off nearby "Ishigaki Island" that sank in an earthquake 12,000 years ago. I know they want us to believe that this is Mu, but I'm not buying it. Long ago, Nilai Kanai created a creature named "Dagahra" to clean up the oceans of pollution and garbage. It "combines DNA from marine organisms with bacteria that break down pollutants." What? It seems, however, that Dagahra "developed a defect" and began producing mutant life-killing red starfish. We're not told when this happened. Was it before the kingdom sank? After? Recently, and that's why the monster is stirring? If so, however, how do Mary-Kate and Ashley know all this? Anyway, they say that Q-Bert came here to look for a human to help him out with Dagahra. So the kids figure that they need to go visit Ishigaki Island and the site of the sunken kingdom, and maybe even take Q-Bert home.
Just then we get another short earthquake. We immediately go underwater to some unidentified location. We see a CGI submarine cruising along in the murky water. It looks like it was modeled on a Japanese Harushio class attack sub, but it is hard to tell for sure.
Suddenly the monster Dagahra springs up, firing energy beams at the sub. Hit and damaged, the sub is unable to avoid being physically smashed to scrap by Dagarha. That little sidebar was so out-of-place that I wonder why they even put it in. I guess somebody at Toho made this CGI submarine and it looked so good that they had to stick it in here somewhere. I guess that earthquake was supposed to tell us that Dagahra is now fully on the move.
Back to the kids, who have planned to visit the island by stealing Hairy Wart's outrigger canoe when it is dark outside. The next scene is them at sea and it is broad daylight. I assume then they have been paddling for a while now, tough kids. When they get near the island, they stop to check out the area. Beneath them they see in the relatively shallow water the outlines of an expansive sunken building complex.
Ok, let's step back a bit. This idea of a sunken city off Okinawa has a basis in fact. In 1995, just two years before this movie was released, a scuba diver discovered a massive underwater stone complex off the southern end of Okinawa. This was big news in Japan (and the world) and was still a mystery in 1997. It is clear that Toho took inspiration for their second Mothra movie from these headlines.
Q-Bert suddenly leaps out of the canoe and swims down to the building complex. Entering a small passage, it sets off a chain reaction of flashing lights and weird happenings. For some reason, the massive stone pyramid now begins to rise up out of the water, accompanied by much flashing lights and loud noises. Eventually it is completely out of the water, which is realized by a very detailed and impressive model. I am used to seeing great Toho model buildings, but to see one surrounded by water is a new effect and very well done.
Hmm...didn't they make this big deal about the kingdom being sunk by an earthquake 12,000 years ago? But it seems like this pyramid can raise and lower itself just fine, so why didn't it do that centuries before? It makes no sense, but then again, nothing in this movie makes any sense.
As the pyramid rises, the kids in the canoe are then sucked down into a water-filled tunnel, swooping down like an amusement park ride. They exit into the complex, skidding to a halt in an anteroom. A few of the red starfish are washed down with them, and they start to shuffle towards the kids, who yelp for help.
And they are saved by Mary-Kate and Ashley on Fairy Mothra, who have come zipping down to their rescue. They zap the starfish and calm the kids down. They tell them they are inside the Pyramid and that they need to try and find the Treasure. Q-Bert joins them again and they all head off into the complex.
Now, the kids were followed here by our Dumbasses on a Yamaha jet-ski, with Belvera hovering near. I don't understand this, they had ample opportunity to overtake the slow canoe and hijack Q-Bert at sea, but they purposely followed them from a distance. Why? Were they wanting to see where they were going? I thought Belvera was dead-set on getting Q-Bert?
Our nasty monster Dagahra is now approaching from out at sea. He heads straight for the Pyramid, sensing that his mortal enemy (the Treasure) is inside. Dagahra lances the structure with his energy beams, tearing off chunks in neat explosions. This is no ordinary ancient pyramid, however, and we see a number of powerful energy beams emerge from stone dragon heads on the Pyramid. Dagahra is pounded back into the sea. That was fancy looking, but I am really growing weary of flashy colored laser beams in these movies. What is wrong with good ol'fashioned projectile weaponry?
Nilai Kanai tower.
Mary-Kate and Ashley realize that they are going to need some serious backup firepower to defeat Dagahra so they call up Mothra. Like all the Mothra movies, the twins do this by singing their classic song "Mosura-yah!". Man, that song never gets old! Back on Infant Island, Mothra hears the song and comes flying to the rescue.
So now Dagahra leaves the Pyramid for a bit, though I don't know why, maybe he was hurt by the defenses. He then goes on a quick city stomping rampage to sooth his pain. This is the same city on the southeast coast of Okinawa that we opened the movie in. The attack is fairly well done, but offers us nothing new that we haven't seen before. Most of the effects are composites of the monster inserted behind a stock footage city scene. It's broad daylight, however, and they do manage to get the lighting effects mostly right on the composites. This is often much harder to do than you might think, which is why so many of these city attacks are filmed at night.
We reconnect for a few shots with the teachers from before as Dagahra proceeds to mangle and stomp the school. We see Hairy Wart and some other adults rushing to save some farm animals that were in an outbuilding, maybe some sort of Japanese 4-H thing. As the school comes crashing down, we watch Hairy Wart hugging a goat (!!) and watching in awe. We never see him again, so we don't know if he survived. We also get a quick three-second shot of Hot Teacher as she runs out of the animal pen. As she hops over a body, her boobs bounce most amazingly. I would again like to state without hesitation that this is the hottest woman in any movie ever made.
Arg. This entire attack on the coastal city is completely pointless. It's shoehorned into the movie with no effort expended to deal with the consequences or rationale. The monster was out at sea just a minute ago, and certainly drawn to the Pyramid, so its sudden detour to stomp through a city is confusing. Why even have it in the movie? Certainly because this is what a Toho monster movie is known for--monsters smashing cities. When viewed in the context of the entire movie, it's just so out of place. Dagahra is next seen back out near the pyramid, making it even more pointless.
One of the biggest questions I have is why no one in the Japanese or American military comes to visit. A city on Okinawa was just thrashed by a monster that is still offshore and a Navy submarine was sunk by that same beast, and not one plane, not one ship, not one dude with a rifle comes to attack. It's as if every human (except for plucky sixth graders) is just hiding under a desk until it's over. I was expecting more, especially as the VHS box artwork shows two Japanese Army UH-1 Huey helicopters seemingly making attack runs on the Pyramid, something that just doesn't happen here. Very misleading. All Toho monster movies simply must have the obligatory Army Gets Mauled By The Monster scene, it's what we've paid to see.
So anyway, now Dagahra swims back out to sea, heading back for the Pyramid. Mothra arrives on the scene as he approaches it and instantly starts zapping Dagahra. Dagahra takes to the air with little wings flapping and they have a bit of a dogfight over the water. Dagahra is yet another Toho monster that flies with no realistic wing design or propulsion system.
Dagahra makes a strafing run on the pyramid, with Mothra in pursuit. Blasted from behind, Dagahra heads for the mainland (or maybe Ishigaki Island). They swoop and zig-zag around zapping each other for a bit. They give and take damage, but Mothra has more weapons. Dagahra is clearly taking the short end of the stick here, and Belvera yells at him to dive back underwater where Mothra can't get at him.
And so he does, flying back out to sea and diving in. Mothra then starts making energy beam depth charge passes, blasting up huge spouts of water. Dagahra didn't go deep enough, I guess, because he's still getting smacked.
Belvera yells at him again to go deeper. Hmmm...can he really hear her? Or is she just yelling to herself? I just do not see how Belvera has any command over Dagahra, who seems intent on destroying everything. I am going to assume that Belvera is just rooting for her team here. But, then again, Dagahra seemed to listen to her the first time she told him to dive into the water... Help.
Ok, Dagahra now starts to spin underwater like a top. This created a whirlpool on the surface, which I can understand. What I can't understand it the raging electrically charged waterspout tornado that forms next!!!
Mothra, caught in the waterspout, is tossed around and really roughed up. When she does manage to break free, she is badly hurt. She is also covered with red starfish! I guess those were shot up from Dagahra in the waterspout?
Mary-Kate and Ashley fly up to Mothra on Fairy and assess the damage. Seeing all the red starfish that are clearly munching on Mothra, they cross their wrists together and start shooting green energy beams from their linked hands!!! Cool! They fly around Mothra, blasting off starfish in neat CGI green bubble bursts. But to do this must take a large toll on the girls and they stop pretty soon, totally drained and exhausted. While they zapped a lot of starfish, hundreds still remain attached to Mothra.
Just then Dagahra leaps out of the water and smacks Mothra into the Pyramid. Mothra, badly hurt, tumbles into the water and sinks to the bottom. Down underwater, Dagahra starts to whale on Mothra, zapping her and ramming her with great fury. It doesn't look good for Mothra, she's close to losing this battle and her life along with it.
But the Pyramid comes to her rescue, driving Dagahra away with a volley of energy beams shot down into the water. Dagahra is seemingly buried under a bunch of rubble, and we don't see him for a bit. Mothra swims back up to the surface and then struggles through the air and lands heavily atop the pyramid.
Let's leave the outside to go back inside the pyramid, where the kids are still wandering around with Q-Bert searching for the elusive Treasure. The complex is a maze of passageways and elevators and they are not having any luck. Separated from the boys, Suzy and Q-Bert round a corner and run into the two Dumbasses. They try and pull Q-Bert away from Suzy but she won't let go. That's one tough little girl. So they just pick up Suzy and carry them both off!
Hearing her screams, FatKid and GeekyKid chase after her. The pyramid is huge and full of blind passages and endless corridors, so they run around for a long time and don't find her. At no time during all this running do they drop those heavy-looking backpacks. I guess they don't want to lose their school books, monster rampage or not. I should also note that FatKid is wearing an Oakland Athletics t-shirt this whole time, in English.
Dumbass2 gets Q-Bert away from Suzy, but the creature bites his hand and he and Suzy run off. Certainly these two adult men can catch an 11-year old girl, but she and the hopping Q-Bert manage to elude them again.
While chasing Suzy, the boys discover a huge chasm that seems to go down miles. There seems no way to get to the other side, until by accident they find that there is an invisible walkway from one side to the other. Why is it invisible? And wow, this is so totally Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Eventually, FatKid and GeekyKid find Suzy and they all laugh and giggle. Then they head off to look for the Treasure again. Notice in one shot that GeekyKid is holding Suzy's arm for the entire scene, and she doesn't look too comfortable with that.
The fun is over soon as the Dumbasses corner the kids and advance menacingly on them. They toss the boys out of the way and rough up Suzy. Just then, Mary-Kate and Ashley arrive and confront the Dumbasses, telling them to leave the kids alone. Dumbass1 aims his speargun at the girls but they blast him good for it. This makes the Dumbasses change their mind for the moment and say they're sorry and all.
In the lamest morality lesson ever, the kids then totally forgive the Dumbasses for trying to kill them all movie!!! Just because they said they were sorry!!! This isn't Vegetales: The Grapes of Wrath!!! And indeed, at the first opportunity, the Dumbasses turn bad again. Dumbass1 grabs GeekyKid and tries to use him as a human shield against Mary-Kate and Ashley. Belvera shows up then on Cyber-Dragon, threatening to make the situation even worse.
Suddenly a large ornate doorway opens and they all stop fighting to gawk. They walk into a huge open room, with massive stone faces on the walls. In the center of the room is a raised platform. Belvera and the Dumbasses look around for the Treasure, sure that this is the place it would be. They see some egg-shaped glowing rocks set up high on the walls and Dumbass1 climbs up to get one while Belvera grabs another with her flying mount. As soon as they pull the eggs out, thick stone door slide down, trapping them in the chamber.
Suddenly, a light show begins and down from the ceiling comes a pillar of light connecting with the raised platform in the center of the room. We get a "ribbed energy column" effect that is 100% ripped off from Stargate. The column fades and a hologram of a 20-foot tall woman dressed in an ornate white dress appears! We see the image flicker and hum a bit to remind us this is just a hologram.
While it's never explicitly stated who this woman is, I think it's clear that this is a holographic program that has been dormant for 12,000 years, waiting to be activated. When activated, however, the hologram becomes a sentient being, capable of reacting to changing situations and apparently self-aware. The best analogy I can come up with is the vaunted holodeck programs from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The literature calls her "Princess Yuna", but that's never spoken in the movie so I'll just call her "Hologram Girl". She's a pretty girl, and she looks to be about 15 or 16-years old.
The Hologram Girl zaps Dumbass2, who is holding one of the pilfered eggs, knocking him back on his ass in a show of light. She's about to zap GeekyKid, after Dumbass1 tosses the other egg to him, when Mary-Kate and Ashley jump in. They beg the Hologram Girl to stop and to help them stop Dagahra from destroying the world. Belvera also comes up and tries to convince Hologram Girl that the earth needs a good cleansing. She says even the children are dangerous, as they grow up to be adults who cause trouble. Nice message for the kids in the audience.
Hologram Girl, of course, sides with the humans and the twins. She now changes to a more human size, shrinking down to about 5-foot tall, but still a hologram as the occasional fuzzy static shows. She then physically interacts with the kids, touching them and such, so I think my Star Trek hologram analogy is working here. It's here that we learn what the Treasure is, the one thing that can stop Dagahra. It's little surprise that it turns out to be Q-Bert! Q-Bert starts to glow and hum and everyone goes googoo.
This revelation is interrupted by Dagahra, who has returned to continue to pound away at the pyramid and Mothra, who is still laying hurt on the top. BTW, the amount of screen time that Mothra spends languishing on top of the Pyramid is amazing. Sure, she's hurting from the beatings and all the starfish stuck on her, but man, she spends forever up there. And when the bad monster keeps banging on her, you'd think she'd try and find somewhere else to hide.
Dagahra now charges up out of the water and climbs up the pyramid to get to Mothra. He reaches her and clamps his jaws on her right wing. Mothra summons up some reserve of energy and blasts Dagahra off her and into the air.
Back inside, the walls of the chamber start crumbling and it is clear that our humans have to get out fast. Hologram Girl tells Suzy to take Q-Bert up to Mothra.
Despite being seemingly all powerful, Hologram Girl can't open the doors herself. The kids have to climb up and stick the eggs back in their places to get the doors open. This they do with some drama and everyone dashes out the door. The Dumbasses go with the kids, now totally changed men. Dumbass2 even runs back to save GeekyKid who trips and falls. From here on out, the Dumbasses are heroes.
Ok, for the entire escape sequence to follow, the pyramid is collapsing around them. Masonry and rubble is falling everywhere and the camera shakes and shimmies convincingly. Our five humans, Q-Bert and the three little girls on their mounts will all stick together during this escape, despite their often differing motivations.
They first come to a short bridge with a gap smashed in it. They all jump across except for Dumbass1 and FatKid, who is too fat to make the jump. Dumbass1 is badly injured from some falling rubble, but he has the strength to pick up FatKid and toss him across the opening. Then another falling hunk of rock somehow propels Dumbass1 across the gap, where he lays lifeless. The kids gather around him, frantic about what to do. We see Q-Bert, and again I'm not making this up, piss all over Dumbass1's bleeding body. The magical healing piss cures the man and they all run off laughing and happy. Kill me.
When they reach the invisible bridge across the chasm, the situation gets uglier. The bridge is crumbling and they just barely get across before it breaks apart and falls down the endless chasm. The shot of the bridge falling is amazingly similar to the stone bridges falling in the mines of Moria from The Fellowship of the Ring, so much so that you have to wonder if Peter Jackson watched this movie.
In a strange bit, Evil Bitch Sister Belvera saves them all by closing a door just before a massive wall of flame overwhelms them. This change of heart on Belvera's part, however brief, is glossed over, why did she do it? Belvera flies off after this and we never see her again (until Rebirth of Mothra III).
Racing to get under a sliding stone door, our five humans manage to reach the surface of the pyramid. They rejoice in the bright sunlight and thank their luck. From their perch, they can see Dagahra still exchanging fire with the pyramid towers and Mothra. The action is furious and full of zapping beams and explosions. Suzy holds up Q-Bert and the little creature glows white and flies up into the sky.
Q-Bert hovers in the sky over Mothra and starts to glow brighter. What happens next is kinda weird, but basically Q-Bert explodes himself to allow his "life energy" to flow down and cover Mothra. This extra helping of mojo allows Mothra to power back up to full strength, maybe even to eleven...
Mothra now starts really slamming Dagahra. From here to the end, Dagahra is on the ropes, barely able to fend off Mothra's massive energy attacks. He dives back underwater, seeking respite. Mothra shows us a new and frankly eye-rollingly lame power, when she morphs (with fancy CGI) into Aqua-Mothra! Aqua-Mothra is a cross between a fish and a moth and looks to be at least partially cyborged. How the heck did this happen? Mothra was always supposed to be a living creature, a giant moth that went through all the growing stages of a normal earth caterpillar. Now, all of a sudden, Mothra has become a Power Ranger toy, changing her form completely without a concern for logic or physics.
Aqua-Mothra dives into the water and gives chase to Dagahra. They exchange some more weapon fire underwater, with Dagahra taking more poundings. Now, we've seen before that regular Mothra can break into innumerable smaller Fairy Mothras, so it's not a surprise that Aqua-Mothra can also break into thousands of little Aqua-Fairies.
Our movie now degrades into a Playstation game as the love of CGI takes over. The Aqua-Fairies swarm into Dagahra's open mouth and race down into his body. As they zip along, Dagahra's system begins releasing swarms of red starfish from internal orifices. The Aqua-Fairies have to blast their way through. I feel like I'm watching the demo for Descent. BTW, I love Descent, it has to be one of my favorite PC game, how come more people don't play this?
Anyway, the Aqua-Fairies get through the legions of starfish and start blasting internal organs. Dagahra screams in pain and thrashes around, but there's nothing that can be done. With a resounding thud, Dagahra collapses on the sea floor and dies. The Aqua-Fairies fly back out and reform into momma Aqua-Mothra.
Aqua-Mothra now uses a tractor beam of sorts to lift Dagahra's lifeless body up and out of the water. From the pyramid, we see the Hologram Girl, she calls Dagahra back home to them. Ok, this is all weird, but Mothra drops Dagahra's body on top of the pyramid and the entire pyramid explodes and then morphs into a water sculpture and then sloshes back into the ocean. Hmmm...what the hell was that?
And that is what's wrong with this crazyass movie. I didn't understand half of what was going on, but it sure looked flashy. My First Born loved it, couldn't get enough of it, but he's only in pre-school so maybe that should tell you something. Lot of freaky crap was going on with pyramid and the monsters that's never really explained. There's no one to give chunks of exposition like in a normal monster movie, no all-knowing smartyhead scientist or television news report to explain it all for us. Q-Bert can't talk, the kids don't know, and everyone else speaks in riddles. We're left to guess what all the zapping energy beams, scary monsters and magical structures really mean. Often I got lost, and just had to turn off my brain and enjoy the brightly-colored lights. I guess that's not such a bad thing in a kid's movie, but it did annoy me.
Anyway, the kids and the Dumbasses escape back to the mainland. Mothra skims the water for them, parting the waters like Moses at the Red Sea and they run along the exposed seabed to the beach. Seriously. I'm too drained to make fun of that insanity so I will just say good night now.
The end. Thanks for reading, bye.
[Editor Pam: This movie was even dumber than Rebirth of Mothra I, which is saying a lot. I think you may need to ingest your mind-altering substance of choice before watching it to enjoy it as it was meant to be enjoyed. There are some very pretty scenes, but as Nate said, a lot of it doesn't make sense. Possibly the writers ingested a mind-altering substance themselves before writing the script. It's a good movie for kids who are a little too old for Teletubbies.]
Written in April 2005 by Nathan Decker and edited by Pam Burda.
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