Huh...I could've sworn I'd posted this both here and TK. Ah well, better late than never!
Immediately after rewwatching GvKG back in August I rewatched GvM'92 for the first time in at least 10 years. Honestly, I wasn't really looking forward to it...I didn't have fond memories (I remember this being a seriously boring movie).
I was pleasantly surprised! It was better than I expected, really not all that worse than GvKG, although it still isn't anywhere near as good as Biollante. Unlike GvKG, the plot here was pretty straightforward and not buried in a tangle of science fiction concepts and Hollywood visual references. The main characters are actually fine, interesting enough, and do follow a nice character arc.
That said, the movie has as many (if not more) significant problems than GvKG did.
Firstly, this isn't a Godzilla movie, despite the title. Sure, he makes a couple cameos, but it doesn't really start to turn into a Godzilla movie until the third Act (starting from the volcano erupting). Even then, all he does is appear, fight the army, fight Mothra and Battra, and then the movie ends.
After watching this one, I really want to go through every movie and count up the monster screen times - I suspect this one may have the shortest appearance of Godzilla in the whole series.
A much worse problem is that this movie suffers from is the same issue some accuse Biollante of: too many characters, many with no point. While Biollante does have a lot of characters, most serve SOME purpose to what's going on. Not the case in this movie. Every scene involving the characters in the Control Room could be cut, and SHOULD have been cut. They were pointless. The was no reason at all for Miki Saeguesa to be a character in this story (or in GvKG either, although at least she had SLIGHTLY more to do there). The evil CEO? The Professor? The Minister? A good chunk of these characters are only there help beat the really obnoxious "Corporations are Evil! Mankind is destroying the Earth!" theme the movie is trying (and failing) to engage the audience on.
Worst of all, like GvKG, this movie doesn't have a third act for its characters - if anything, it's worse about it, since at least some characters had something to do in GvKG. In GvM'92, the plot really ends with the Hotel sequence - while a lot happens after that, none of it is of significance to the characters, all of whom are standing around and watching the monsters duke it out. Some may say this is a "good" thing because it means more monster action, but IMO this is VERY BAD writing and a serious failing on the part of the movie. If your characters aren't going to be important for the WHOLE story, then what was the point of focusing on them? Your characters have to be integral to what's going on from beginning to end. The original Mothra vs. Godzilla suffers from a similar problem, but at least makes up for it by inventing a new secondary plot for the characters to engage in (rescuing the schoolchildren form the island) and GvKG at least has Emi (the only main character given something to do) take over as protagonist for Act 3. No wonder I got so bored when, in theory, the movie was supposed to be getting more exciting! I think this movie would be much more fondly remembered (and liked) if Omori had come up with something, ANYTHING, for his characters to do at the end here.
On the FX side, the quality seems to be continuing its slow slide from the peak in the '80s. On the plus side, the volcano sequence is EXCELLENT. It's so good, and such a large step above everything else FX-wise here, that I'm left wondering if Kawakita asked Omori to write in the scene because he was dissatisfied with the "Godzilla emerges from a volcano" scene from Biollante and wanted to give it a second try. Mothra's Egg, the Cosmos, and the more action/adventure effects are also rather well-done - make fun of the Indiana Jones stuff, at least it was fun to watch and didn't look awful despite how blatantly obvious the references were. Battra, both larval and imago, has a cool design, too. Unfortunately, that's about where my praise ends. Godzilla, while retaining the same basic design philosophy as the previous two movies, looks...downgraded? The animatronic face certainly doesn't look as good as in the previous two movies. Battra, despite the cool design, is practically immobile - ESPECIALLY in the larval form. He's practically a statue! Mothra and Battra's imago forms are more mobile, but aren't much more effective. Many of the miniature FX, especially the military vehicles and in Mothra's attack on Tokyo, look...outdated. Not that they're necessarily bad, but unlike the miniature FX in the '80s (or even in GvKG, mostly) they look almost like stock footage from a movie 20 or 30 years older. What happened? To cover it, the movie makes even more use of showing the monster walking behind a matte of a real city. It's not really all that effective, and really draws attention to itself in the way it's used. The FX here are disappointing not just because I know Kawakita can do better, but because he demonstrates it within the same movie!
After all is said and done, though, I'd say it's about on par with GvKG. Decent, not necessarily something I'm going to be inclined to rewatch much but also not as godawful as some suggest. After rewatching this it's baffling that THIS is the highest grossing Godzilla movie in Japan (excepting Z'98, of course). Why? I don't get it. Sure, it's got Mothra in it, but was she really THAT popular that she could inflate the box office that much?