Rewatching the Gamera movies! Gamera made a big, BIG comeback in the 90s with 1995’s Gamera: Guardian of the Universe.
What’s all this, then? It was a whole new era (era) for kaiju by 1995. The giant monsters came roaring back to big screens. They still had the retro performers in rubber suits, but with jazzed up effects and miniature work. The Godzilla films of the 90s are fan favorites, and Gamera again followed suit.
Here’s what happens: Scientists investigate a potentially dangerous floating atoll way out in the ocean. A second group of scientists investigate possible bird-related deaths on a remote island. The birds are three Gyaos, giant pterodactyl types. Then the atoll is revealed to be Gamera, who arrives in Japan to fight the Gyaos. After two Gyaos are defeated, the third grows to giant size. The monsters then fight it out at Tokyo Tower.
Nice gams: This is a hard reboot, with no continuity to the previous films. Gamera’s origin story is similar to the original. He was created in ancient Atlantis for the purpose of protecting the Earth from Gyaos. He’s been hibernating since then, only awakening when Gyaos returns. This leads to an interesting bit where scientists dig into sleeping Gamera’s shell and find ancient runes written inside.
Turtle power: Improved special effects means Gamera’s powers get new looks. The first time he flies, it’s filmed like a NASA space shuttle take off. His flame breath now comes out in short bursts rather than a long stream. Plus, Gamera steals another of Godzilla’s moves in an extended scene in which be battles the army and steps on a bunch of tanks.
Big baddie: I’m unclear as to Gyaos’ origins, aside from dialogue about them being “born perfect.” In the modern day, the Gyaos have returned to menace the Earth thanks to pollution and unchecked nuclear power. This Gyaos has both sonic breath and laser breath, and can they still create destructive gusts of wind with their wings.
Kid stuff: One scientist’s daughter, Asagi, touches a piece of Gamera’s shell and develops a psychic connection with Gamera. She provides exposition about what the monsters are up to, but also she’s in danger of being injured whenever Gamera is. It’s a fun way to have a kid character who is also integral to the plot.
Hapless humans: There’s a bit of a romcom happening in this movie, as the female bird scientist and the male island scientist get flirty as their paths keep crossing during the crisis.
Thoughts on this viewing: This movie freaking rules! While the previous films were Saturday morning cartoons at their best, this one takes a Hollywood blockbuster approach to the same formula. Everything in this movie is BIG, appropriate since it’s an enormous leap forward for the franchise.
Next: Does this bug you?
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