Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)

Gamera, a giant fire-breathing turtle, is awoken after Japan falls prey to a pack of flesh-eating birds known as the Gyaos. The Japanese government mistakenly attacks Gamera before a young girl that shares a psychic link to the monster intervenes. Director Shusuke Kaneko removes the corny, childish aspects of the earlier films and steps up the serious action and violence in a grim Kaiju fable. Much like in his Godzilla effort, Kaneko reintroduces the character as a monster of legend that has laid in wait for centuries until the Earth needed him. The set design and miniature work used in the film easily rivals any of the models produced by Toho, with amazing attention to detail that goes as far as to hang clothes over balcony rails on housing complexes. The monster designs are a little cartoony and stiff, but in the context of the frame, they are play well and look believable. The background story behind the monster mayhem plays on all of the standard Kaiju conventions, but the human characters and plot are engaging enough to carry the film between battles. All in all, a fun modernization of the classic monster that will please any giant monster fans!

Rating: 8/10.
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  1. I really enjoyed the first new Gamera film, but thought the first sequel was even bigger and better. Ayako Fujitani, the girl who has a link with Gamera, is Steven Seagal's Japanese daughter.

    The third film has the best effects work that pretty much rivals anything seen in Hollywood at the time, but these scenes are so few and far between; very little monster action. For me, Kaneko went overboard with the supernatural shit in this one.

    The fourth film, unrelated to Kaneko's trilogy, is good in its own right and returns the series to the protector of children the monster was back in the 60's and 70's. That film also has some startling violence as well. I didn't care for the design of Gamera in this one as he looked far too "lovable". The story itself is quite different from the others. It's essentially about a 'Boy and his turtle'.

  2. I was hoping you would have some insight on the other films, I managed to get a sweet deal on this one but the others are way out of my price range. Im going to sit on them until a rerelease.

    I really like Kaneko's approach to the Kaiju films, so I have no doubt I will enjoy the rest of the trilogy. I have heard good things about GAMERA THE BRAVE, so I will keep an eye on that one as well. Should be receiving 5 of the original series films (dubbed and presumably horribly edited) within the week to kickoff a new Kaiju week!

  3. ADVision released all three Gamera films in a box set a few years back. The sad thing is they covered up the original and superior Japanese opening credits sequences for them with new computer generated English titles. A shame, really as the Japanese really know how to catch ones attention with their opening title cards.

    Carl, you should also look into the DAIMAJIN trilogy as well. They're a mix of kaiju and chambara drama.

  4. Will look into them immediately, Im also interested in Death Note now that I have established my love for Kaneko, thanks for the recommendation V!

  5. PS - I didnt know Toho made Seven Samurai??

  6. Hey, Carl, my friend at fareastflix probably still has the newer Gamera films for sale subtitled. They're either $10 or $15. You only need to ask about them. He took them down when they came out over here on DVD. I didn't know they were OOP, though.

    GAMERA THE BRAVE 2 disc set is $15. I know he has all the older ones uncut and subbed for $10. Here's a link to the page...

  7. You know, it's probably sacrilege for me to say this, but I've yet to see SEVEN SAMURAI from start to finish, lol.

  8. Most excellent, I will sneak on over there and check them out! Im $10 over allowance this week after buying MADMAN and POSSESSION to resell, but if I make what Im hoping to on them I will snatch those up immediately!

    We will have to sit down and watch Seven Samurai together in completion sometime, I have only seen the first hour if memory serves.

    Oddly enough, I have seen Seven String Samurai in full though

  9. Sounds good to me, Carl. I never picked up POSSESSION myself. I had that AB double feature in my hands at one point, but put it back on the shelf.

    Sony recently released a Toho box set akin to their Hammer sets, by the way. The set contains MOTHRA, THE H-MAN and BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE.

    Toho also did a trilogy of Mothra films in the late 90's. The third was the best, but then that isn't saying much. These three films were aimed more at kids.

    Toho also produced the first of a proposed fantasy trilogy entitled YAMATO TAKERU (1994). It reminded me a lot of the old Sinbad movies, but with Japanese actors. It's a remake of an old Japanese fantasy film, THE THREE TREASURES (1959) starring Toshiro Mifune. The 90's version didn't do very well at the box office, so the remaining two films were scuppered. It was released here on DVD as OROCHI, THE 8 HEADED DRAGON.