The movie of the year has arrived….

The movie of the year has arrived….

This review of RoboCop ‘14, titled “Save Your Scorn for a Remake That Deserves It,” concisely sums up my reaction to the film: This certainly could’ve gone a lot worse. Actually, I’ve seen a lot worse, and it’s called Total Recall '12. The remake of Verhoeven’s RoboCop is a piece of genius entertainment compared to that huge load of nothing remake.
As a 2010s SF action movie, the recent RoboCop is good entertainment, smarter than most films of this type, and distinguishes itself enough from the original that you aren’t constantly reminded of how much better the original is. All wise choices on the filmmakers’ part. There is no way to match the gonzo satirical insanity of what Verhoeven did in 1987, but if you want a modern PG-13 take on dystopian Detroit featuring a cyborg cop and some political commentary, this probably as good as you could get. Faint praise? Perhaps, but credit where credit is due: this isn’t a terrible movie.

This review of RoboCop ‘14, titled “Save Your Scorn for a Remake That Deserves It,” concisely sums up my reaction to the film: This certainly could’ve gone a lot worse. Actually, I’ve seen a lot worse, and it’s called Total Recall '12. The remake of Verhoeven’s RoboCop is a piece of genius entertainment compared to that huge load of nothing remake.

As a 2010s SF action movie, the recent RoboCop is good entertainment, smarter than most films of this type, and distinguishes itself enough from the original that you aren’t constantly reminded of how much better the original is. All wise choices on the filmmakers’ part. There is no way to match the gonzo satirical insanity of what Verhoeven did in 1987, but if you want a modern PG-13 take on dystopian Detroit featuring a cyborg cop and some political commentary, this probably as good as you could get. Faint praise? Perhaps, but credit where credit is due: this isn’t a terrible movie.

It’s the worst of the Japanese Godzilla films, but that still makes it better than the 1998 U.S. Godzilla. And it’s impossible to deny that Godzilla vs. Megalon makes for a great cheese-fest. As long as it’s not the film that non-fans use to judge the whole series (as it unfortunately sometimes has been), I’m fine with its existence as a piece of low-budget silliness that’s not much more than a pro-wrestling match in latex monster suits.
The Blu-ray presentation is ho-hum, but it’s still the best the movie has appeared in home video in the U.S., and for people used to the blurry cropped public domain versions that circulated for years, this may count as a minor revelation. The production team did seem to be honestly trying to make a decent-looking film despite the severe budget and time restrictions.
Media Blasters mishandled the release, however, delaying it multiple times over the last few months, and then only shipping 5,000 copies. I don’t imagine the company will be around much longer.

It’s the worst of the Japanese Godzilla films, but that still makes it better than the 1998 U.S. Godzilla. And it’s impossible to deny that Godzilla vs. Megalon makes for a great cheese-fest. As long as it’s not the film that non-fans use to judge the whole series (as it unfortunately sometimes has been), I’m fine with its existence as a piece of low-budget silliness that’s not much more than a pro-wrestling match in latex monster suits.

The Blu-ray presentation is ho-hum, but it’s still the best the movie has appeared in home video in the U.S., and for people used to the blurry cropped public domain versions that circulated for years, this may count as a minor revelation. The production team did seem to be honestly trying to make a decent-looking film despite the severe budget and time restrictions.

Media Blasters mishandled the release, however, delaying it multiple times over the last few months, and then only shipping 5,000 copies. I don’t imagine the company will be around much longer.

The biggest arrival day since Super Godzilla Tuesday! This time we have Sony cleaning up the three remaining of the Millennium series, including both versions of Godzilla 2000: Millennium. Media Blasters finally releases their constantly delayed disc of the worst movie of the series, Godzilla vs. Megalon, the only Showa film getting a release today. Then there’s the great decision to release all three Heisei Mothra films; this is the U.S. debut for Rebirth of Mothra III in any format.
Last but not least, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, one of the greatest superhero movies ever made, and along with the 2014 Godzilla, the best movie of the 2014 so far (and I doubt anything will beat either).

The biggest arrival day since Super Godzilla Tuesday! This time we have Sony cleaning up the three remaining of the Millennium series, including both versions of Godzilla 2000: Millennium. Media Blasters finally releases their constantly delayed disc of the worst movie of the series, Godzilla vs. Megalon, the only Showa film getting a release today. Then there’s the great decision to release all three Heisei Mothra films; this is the U.S. debut for Rebirth of Mothra III in any format.

Last but not least, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, one of the greatest superhero movies ever made, and along with the 2014 Godzilla, the best movie of the 2014 so far (and I doubt anything will beat either).

Perfect evidence that greatness of material does not mean greatness of adaptation, this is a pretty dreadful film based on one of the highest achievements in the art of the novel. Tolstoy’s War and Peace turns into a turgid 1950s costume drama, graced with VistaVision and a ton of money but a cliched approach to everything. Even as spectacle it feels quite tame, with visuals that feel flat and battle scenes that have no tension or weight. It’s also terribly miscast. Almost everything that is astonishing about the novel lies buried here. This is Cliff’s Notes as cinema.
Of course, any adaptation of a 575,000-word novel will have cuts (the BBC miniseries in the ’70s runs 20 hours, and it made cuts). It’s not the cuts that topple over this 1956 version, it’s the shallow approach that wants no complexity, only a digestible historical epic to fit the expectations of the times.
Henry Fonda later admitted that he was an awful choice for Pierre Bezukhov and took the role only for money. Fonda cuts a fine figure in Westerns, but he’s lost in a European period drama: he’s quintessentially Midwestern. He’s also thirty years too old to play Pierre. However, Mel Ferrer fares even worse, wooden as an Old Moscow building in the part of Prince Andrei. Audrey Hepburn is sprightly as Natasha, but the part isn’t written to let her do anything than be sprightly.
The smaller parts do have some better luck: Herbert Lom is an excellent Napoleon, Oscar Homoloka seems to have a good grasp on General Kutuzov, and it’s nice to see a young Jeremy Brett as Nikolai. The movie does rise to the occasion during Natasha’s foolish choice over Anatole; it’s the only place in the movie where it felt as if it were touching on how powerful the book is. (This is one of the novel’s finest sections, so a bit of that rubbed off.) The epic feel does finally come across during the scenes of the French retreat during the winter, but the movie gets into an astonishing rush just to end, so much so that the Rostovs never even find out about Petya’s death! (Pierre just neglects to mention it.)
I watched the film because I recently finished reading the book. I didn’t expect anything stunning from it, but I did not anticipate something as flat and lifeless as this. Let’s hope the new BBC miniseries right now in pre-production pulls off the job better.

Perfect evidence that greatness of material does not mean greatness of adaptation, this is a pretty dreadful film based on one of the highest achievements in the art of the novel. Tolstoy’s War and Peace turns into a turgid 1950s costume drama, graced with VistaVision and a ton of money but a cliched approach to everything. Even as spectacle it feels quite tame, with visuals that feel flat and battle scenes that have no tension or weight. It’s also terribly miscast. Almost everything that is astonishing about the novel lies buried here. This is Cliff’s Notes as cinema.

Of course, any adaptation of a 575,000-word novel will have cuts (the BBC miniseries in the ’70s runs 20 hours, and it made cuts). It’s not the cuts that topple over this 1956 version, it’s the shallow approach that wants no complexity, only a digestible historical epic to fit the expectations of the times.

Henry Fonda later admitted that he was an awful choice for Pierre Bezukhov and took the role only for money. Fonda cuts a fine figure in Westerns, but he’s lost in a European period drama: he’s quintessentially Midwestern. He’s also thirty years too old to play Pierre. However, Mel Ferrer fares even worse, wooden as an Old Moscow building in the part of Prince Andrei. Audrey Hepburn is sprightly as Natasha, but the part isn’t written to let her do anything than be sprightly.

The smaller parts do have some better luck: Herbert Lom is an excellent Napoleon, Oscar Homoloka seems to have a good grasp on General Kutuzov, and it’s nice to see a young Jeremy Brett as Nikolai. The movie does rise to the occasion during Natasha’s foolish choice over Anatole; it’s the only place in the movie where it felt as if it were touching on how powerful the book is. (This is one of the novel’s finest sections, so a bit of that rubbed off.) The epic feel does finally come across during the scenes of the French retreat during the winter, but the movie gets into an astonishing rush just to end, so much so that the Rostovs never even find out about Petya’s death! (Pierre just neglects to mention it.)

I watched the film because I recently finished reading the book. I didn’t expect anything stunning from it, but I did not anticipate something as flat and lifeless as this. Let’s hope the new BBC miniseries right now in pre-production pulls off the job better.

This 1982 comedy is basically a low-budget clip show that stitches together bits from dozens of B-movies, many of them SF and exploitation films from the 1950s, with some bumper scenes involving popular comedians of the day: Gilda Radner, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, and Cheech & Chong. Due to rights issues for many of the clips, the movie isn’t currently available on any home media or streaming, and so when I watched it yesterday it was on a digital transfer straight from VHS. Oddly, the poor quality of the VHS made the new footage meld quite well with the quality of the clips.
It Came from Hollywood is interesting as an archival view of ironic movie culture before it broadened out through availability of many of these films through home video, and then later matured through the comic revolution that Mystery Science Theater 3000 created that changed how these films were comedically approached. The snark here is still crude, and that makes sense considering Michael Medved’s involvement. Medved didn’t have love for these films, only contempt, and it often shows, especially when dealing with Ed Wood flicks. (Despite it’s bizarre flaws, Glen or Glenda? is an ahead of its time plea for tolerance that refuses to actually exploit its subject matter.)
Unfortunately, the new comedy segments are rarely funnier either, disappointing considering the talent involved. Gilda Radner comes across the best, and some of Cheech Marin’s comedy bits as he and Tommy Chong do an early version of the MST3K crew watching from theater seats are also mildly amusing.
It’s strange to see criticism of a few B-movies that are genuinely great films, such as The Incredible Shrinking Man. There’s simply no way to comfortably fit footage of that alongside schlock gems like Robot Monster and Reefer Madness.
However, the movie does provide the fun party game of “Guess then clip!” It’s amazing how many of the films they use I’ve seen and can identify in seconds. I can even provide the MST3K quip of the moment if the movie was ever shown on the program.

This 1982 comedy is basically a low-budget clip show that stitches together bits from dozens of B-movies, many of them SF and exploitation films from the 1950s, with some bumper scenes involving popular comedians of the day: Gilda Radner, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, and Cheech & Chong. Due to rights issues for many of the clips, the movie isn’t currently available on any home media or streaming, and so when I watched it yesterday it was on a digital transfer straight from VHS. Oddly, the poor quality of the VHS made the new footage meld quite well with the quality of the clips.

It Came from Hollywood is interesting as an archival view of ironic movie culture before it broadened out through availability of many of these films through home video, and then later matured through the comic revolution that Mystery Science Theater 3000 created that changed how these films were comedically approached. The snark here is still crude, and that makes sense considering Michael Medved’s involvement. Medved didn’t have love for these films, only contempt, and it often shows, especially when dealing with Ed Wood flicks. (Despite it’s bizarre flaws, Glen or Glenda? is an ahead of its time plea for tolerance that refuses to actually exploit its subject matter.)

Unfortunately, the new comedy segments are rarely funnier either, disappointing considering the talent involved. Gilda Radner comes across the best, and some of Cheech Marin’s comedy bits as he and Tommy Chong do an early version of the MST3K crew watching from theater seats are also mildly amusing.

It’s strange to see criticism of a few B-movies that are genuinely great films, such as The Incredible Shrinking Man. There’s simply no way to comfortably fit footage of that alongside schlock gems like Robot Monster and Reefer Madness.

However, the movie does provide the fun party game of “Guess then clip!” It’s amazing how many of the films they use I’ve seen and can identify in seconds. I can even provide the MST3K quip of the moment if the movie was ever shown on the program.

I obsess over Barry Lyndon the way many people obsess over The Shining. So when some friends wanted to watch it for a Labor Day get-together, I was certainly more than willing to relax for fun with a three-hour slow-paced tragedy. I adore pretty much every second of this movie, and every second of the movie is also suitable for framing.

I obsess over Barry Lyndon the way many people obsess over The Shining. So when some friends wanted to watch it for a Labor Day get-together, I was certainly more than willing to relax for fun with a three-hour slow-paced tragedy. I adore pretty much every second of this movie, and every second of the movie is also suitable for framing.

Redletter Media recently featured Shakma on its show Best of the Worst, and I bumped into the trailer last month, so this confluence of events made it impossible to pass it up when I discovered it was available to stream for free through Amazon Prime. Yes, I was warned about its quality. Warned accurately. “Free” is about as much as anybody should pay to watch this. Killer baboon films deserve much better than people wandering around bland hallways for a stretched out forty-five-minute conclusion that never offers anything new.
Shakma has some promise for cheesy fun, mainly because its central “monster” is a rather adorable baboon. I can tolerate a monster film where the monster is a funny and charming primate who isn’t the least bit threatening. But where Shakma fails as B-movie fun is an interminable hour and forty-two minute running time where everything interesting has already happened after an hour. When I felt the movie was reaching the natural wrapping up point, ready to ramp into the finale, I checked the time and saw that three quarters of hour were left. And that remaining time consisted of nothing much more than Christopher Atkins slowly moping around the same set of boring corridors on a soundstage at Universal Studios Florida. A judicious cut of at least fifteen minutes could’ve improve the film, although wouldn’t save it. Shakma has no bite.

Redletter Media recently featured Shakma on its show Best of the Worst, and I bumped into the trailer last month, so this confluence of events made it impossible to pass it up when I discovered it was available to stream for free through Amazon Prime. Yes, I was warned about its quality. Warned accurately. “Free” is about as much as anybody should pay to watch this. Killer baboon films deserve much better than people wandering around bland hallways for a stretched out forty-five-minute conclusion that never offers anything new.

Shakma has some promise for cheesy fun, mainly because its central “monster” is a rather adorable baboon. I can tolerate a monster film where the monster is a funny and charming primate who isn’t the least bit threatening. But where Shakma fails as B-movie fun is an interminable hour and forty-two minute running time where everything interesting has already happened after an hour. When I felt the movie was reaching the natural wrapping up point, ready to ramp into the finale, I checked the time and saw that three quarters of hour were left. And that remaining time consisted of nothing much more than Christopher Atkins slowly moping around the same set of boring corridors on a soundstage at Universal Studios Florida. A judicious cut of at least fifteen minutes could’ve improve the film, although wouldn’t save it. Shakma has no bite.

This is one of my favorite of the Heisei Era Godzilla movies, although I can’t see non-Godzilla fans having an easy time with the first half, which is prolonged set-up through the time-travel gimmick for the monster action. I appreciate the filmmakers going for a different approach to putting together why the monsters exist in the movie, even if it’s derivative of The Terminator. Once Godzilla enters the story and unleashes the most hellish fury yet in the Heisei movies, the big guns come out and the film’s a blast. The Shinjuku showdown between Godzilla and Mecha King Ghidorah is one of the action highlights of any Godzilla film. 
As a bonus, there’s some excellent character work with Mr. Shindo, played by legendary Japanese actor Yoshio Tsuchiya, who has a powerful final scene when he confronts the monster he once believed was his savior—and the savior of all of Japan. It’s a superb piece of staging and acting, and emphasizes Godzilla’s power as a symbol beyond being just a big monster.

This is one of my favorite of the Heisei Era Godzilla movies, although I can’t see non-Godzilla fans having an easy time with the first half, which is prolonged set-up through the time-travel gimmick for the monster action. I appreciate the filmmakers going for a different approach to putting together why the monsters exist in the movie, even if it’s derivative of The Terminator. Once Godzilla enters the story and unleashes the most hellish fury yet in the Heisei movies, the big guns come out and the film’s a blast. The Shinjuku showdown between Godzilla and Mecha King Ghidorah is one of the action highlights of any Godzilla film. 

As a bonus, there’s some excellent character work with Mr. Shindo, played by legendary Japanese actor Yoshio Tsuchiya, who has a powerful final scene when he confronts the monster he once believed was his savior—and the savior of all of Japan. It’s a superb piece of staging and acting, and emphasizes Godzilla’s power as a symbol beyond being just a big monster.

It’s been a long stretch since I’ve watched the Disney Tarzan, and my knowledge of ERB and his most famous creation have increased immensely since then (although I was already quite Tarzan-fluent when the movie was in theaters originally). Now that I’ve seen many of the lesser-known, but excellent, live-action Tarzan films, I’m curious to see what I make of the Disney Renaissance take.

It’s been a long stretch since I’ve watched the Disney Tarzan, and my knowledge of ERB and his most famous creation have increased immensely since then (although I was already quite Tarzan-fluent when the movie was in theaters originally). Now that I’ve seen many of the lesser-known, but excellent, live-action Tarzan films, I’m curious to see what I make of the Disney Renaissance take.

I had no idea this H. P. Lovecraft adaptation even existed until yesterday, but I’m grateful for the discovery. It’s one of the finest versions of an HPL tale, and since that tale is also my personal favorite of the Old Man’s work, it adds to the thrill.
This is a low-budget German film titled Die Farbe (“The Color”) based on “The Colour Out of Space.” I don’t know why the official English title dropped Lovecraft’s purposeful use of the U.K. spelling “Colour.” Lovecraft was such a severe Anglophile that it seems strange to change the title, but perhaps the Germans didn’t understand what a difference that one letter makes to Anglophones.
Like the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society films The Call of Cthulhu and The Whisperer in Darkness, this is a black-and-white film with a distinctly retro feeling, although it isn’t specifically attempting to imitate a 1920s or ’30s style of filmmaking. The choice to shoot in black-and-white ends up paying off immensely, because “the colour” can genuinely seem like an alien color when it is the only color that ever appears on screen.
The between-wars Germany setting works well; the filmmakers manage to capture the sense of HPL’s rural New England through rural Southeastern Germany (specifically the Swabian-Franconian Forest). Most of Lovecraft’s story remains intact, with a few variants, such as the reason the protagonist goes to investigate in the first place, and an odd coda. The budget causes some problems, such as some very wonky blue screen effects during the first five minutes that might unfortunately turn some viewers off regarding the quality of the rest of the movie. There’s also a German actor who is supposed to be playing a character from the U.S., but his few scenes in English have him speaking with a thick German accent. But what the filmmakers achieve with what they have is often stunning, and the movie manages to capture some of the most terrifying moments of the story in skin-crawling fashion.

I had no idea this H. P. Lovecraft adaptation even existed until yesterday, but I’m grateful for the discovery. It’s one of the finest versions of an HPL tale, and since that tale is also my personal favorite of the Old Man’s work, it adds to the thrill.

This is a low-budget German film titled Die Farbe (“The Color”) based on “The Colour Out of Space.” I don’t know why the official English title dropped Lovecraft’s purposeful use of the U.K. spelling “Colour.” Lovecraft was such a severe Anglophile that it seems strange to change the title, but perhaps the Germans didn’t understand what a difference that one letter makes to Anglophones.

Like the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society films The Call of Cthulhu and The Whisperer in Darkness, this is a black-and-white film with a distinctly retro feeling, although it isn’t specifically attempting to imitate a 1920s or ’30s style of filmmaking. The choice to shoot in black-and-white ends up paying off immensely, because “the colour” can genuinely seem like an alien color when it is the only color that ever appears on screen.

The between-wars Germany setting works well; the filmmakers manage to capture the sense of HPL’s rural New England through rural Southeastern Germany (specifically the Swabian-Franconian Forest). Most of Lovecraft’s story remains intact, with a few variants, such as the reason the protagonist goes to investigate in the first place, and an odd coda. The budget causes some problems, such as some very wonky blue screen effects during the first five minutes that might unfortunately turn some viewers off regarding the quality of the rest of the movie. There’s also a German actor who is supposed to be playing a character from the U.S., but his few scenes in English have him speaking with a thick German accent. But what the filmmakers achieve with what they have is often stunning, and the movie manages to capture some of the most terrifying moments of the story in skin-crawling fashion.

This is the second retro-H. P. Lovecraft film from the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, following their superb silent version of The Call of Cthulhu. This time, the movie is designed to look like it was shot in the 1930s, and the filmmakers manage to craft a very convincing simulacrum of Old Hollywood. The script includes almost everything in Lovecraft’s shortnstory, but in order to provide material to a make a complete narrative film, it extends into a finale that goes past where the story stops (Wilmarth finding out the true identity of Akeley) and moves into a more standard thriller, with Wilmarth teaming up with a young girl to shut down a gate the mi-go are trying to open. The climax involves mi-go chasing a bi-plane, which is the perfect sort of finale for a 1930s movie, although certainly not something that would have occurred to Lovecraft.
It’s probably as good a film as could be fashioned from the short story given the low budget. However, it’s really for Lovecraft fans and lovers of 1930s cinema; more casual viewers will have a harder time getting into it.

This is the second retro-H. P. Lovecraft film from the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, following their superb silent version of The Call of Cthulhu. This time, the movie is designed to look like it was shot in the 1930s, and the filmmakers manage to craft a very convincing simulacrum of Old Hollywood. The script includes almost everything in Lovecraft’s shortnstory, but in order to provide material to a make a complete narrative film, it extends into a finale that goes past where the story stops (Wilmarth finding out the true identity of Akeley) and moves into a more standard thriller, with Wilmarth teaming up with a young girl to shut down a gate the mi-go are trying to open. The climax involves mi-go chasing a bi-plane, which is the perfect sort of finale for a 1930s movie, although certainly not something that would have occurred to Lovecraft.

It’s probably as good a film as could be fashioned from the short story given the low budget. However, it’s really for Lovecraft fans and lovers of 1930s cinema; more casual viewers will have a harder time getting into it.

This is the second time this year I’ve watched a movie in memorial to a very funny person who died too early. It’s dreadful to lose Harold Ramis and Robin Williams, and Williams’s death due to depression is such a painful reminder of how destructive, epidemic, and misunderstood the illness is.
This was a strange memorial movie to watch, and I did go into it knowing that is has elements that relate to Williams’s death. It’s a fine movie, a dark comedy that pulls back from the dark edge at the right time. But it’s hard to discuss given the recent events.

This is the second time this year I’ve watched a movie in memorial to a very funny person who died too early. It’s dreadful to lose Harold Ramis and Robin Williams, and Williams’s death due to depression is such a painful reminder of how destructive, epidemic, and misunderstood the illness is.

This was a strange memorial movie to watch, and I did go into it knowing that is has elements that relate to Williams’s death. It’s a fine movie, a dark comedy that pulls back from the dark edge at the right time. But it’s hard to discuss given the recent events.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes has a straightforward story: an organ player plots to murder the physicians and the nurse he holds responsible for his wife’s death on the operating table, using the Plagues of Egypt from Exodus as his guide. The police track the murders and try to intercept them. That’s pretty much the sum total of the story. But what everyone remembers about the film is the bizarre modernist design (it feels exactly like the theatrical release poster) and the fantastic British gallows humor.
It is strange that Vincent Price has no on-screen dialogue in the movie. Dr. Phibes only “speaks” using a connection from his throat to a Victrola horn, which produces an odd halting voice. It works in the film, but it is strange to have the wonderful characteristic voice of Mr. Price put in the background.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes has a straightforward story: an organ player plots to murder the physicians and the nurse he holds responsible for his wife’s death on the operating table, using the Plagues of Egypt from Exodus as his guide. The police track the murders and try to intercept them. That’s pretty much the sum total of the story. But what everyone remembers about the film is the bizarre modernist design (it feels exactly like the theatrical release poster) and the fantastic British gallows humor.

It is strange that Vincent Price has no on-screen dialogue in the movie. Dr. Phibes only “speaks” using a connection from his throat to a Victrola horn, which produces an odd halting voice. It works in the film, but it is strange to have the wonderful characteristic voice of Mr. Price put in the background.

Mothra (1961) is one of the most important of all Japanese fantasy/science fiction films. It marks the turning point where the explosion of fantastic cinema in Japan that started with Godzilla (1954) turned away from the U.S. model to a fully realized, distinct domestic style. Mothra is nothing like the atomic monster films from the 1950s in the U.S., and pretty unlike any U.S. film. It does make borrowings from King Kong, with an entertainment promoter bringing back to civilization an amazing discovery from an exotic island and suffering city-smashing consequences, but the confluence of fantasy, comedy, musical numbers, and light satire make it unique. It’s one of the finest of the kaiju genre and one of Ishiro Honda’s best films, with epic and expansive work from special effects genius Eiji Tsubarya. Mothra’s two rampages, first in larval form and then creating massive windstorms in adult form are astonishing in their scope and ambition.

Mothra (1961) is one of the most important of all Japanese fantasy/science fiction films. It marks the turning point where the explosion of fantastic cinema in Japan that started with Godzilla (1954) turned away from the U.S. model to a fully realized, distinct domestic style. Mothra is nothing like the atomic monster films from the 1950s in the U.S., and pretty unlike any U.S. film. It does make borrowings from King Kong, with an entertainment promoter bringing back to civilization an amazing discovery from an exotic island and suffering city-smashing consequences, but the confluence of fantasy, comedy, musical numbers, and light satire make it unique. It’s one of the finest of the kaiju genre and one of Ishiro Honda’s best films, with epic and expansive work from special effects genius Eiji Tsubarya. Mothra’s two rampages, first in larval form and then creating massive windstorms in adult form are astonishing in their scope and ambition.