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When Toho's Godzilla revival of the 1980s proved a stomping success, they turned to their next greatest creation, the giant rainbow-colored moth with the girl-group sidekicks. The first film of the Mothra revival finds an eons-old space monster named Death Ghidora on the loose while dark fairy Belvera, astride her pint-sized dragon, searches out the magical seal that will make the three-headed energy-sucking monster her servant. Pixies Lora and Moll sing out for the aging Mothra and her progeny, a giant squishy larva, and the two engage in a tag-team hide and seek. Where Godzilla is an angry threat to mankind, Mothra is a peaceful planetary protector on gossamer wings, and the film is more fairy tale than monster movie. Rebirth of Mothra carries its share of giant monster collisions: Death Ghidora stomps forests and screams energy rays from his three dragon maws, while Mothra shoots lasers from her antenna and lightning bolts from her wings. But there's an ethereal quality to the marionette models--and explosions of sheer beauty to many of the effects, which make up for often visible strings and wires. It's also more family oriented than the Godzilla films, with (often annoying) little-kid heroes and a conservationist message woven through the adventure. As with most of the Japanese giant monster imports, the dubbing is awful, but once the monsters start scrapping it's a moot point. --Sean Axmaker
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