Directed by Noriaki Yuasa
Starring: Eiji Funakoshi, Harumi Kiritachi, Yoshiro Uchida
“Try to be like the turtle — at ease in your own shell”
Gigantic turtle wreaking havoc on Tokyo? Count me in. Not every turtle is as sweet natured as Franklin, or Yertle or even the pizza loving Mutant Ninja Turtles. No, some turtles just have to kick a lot of ass to feel self realized.
First things first: I don’t think Gamera should be labeled a monster. I still think he is uber cute, just a little supersized. Hey, he is big boned!
Gamera is a giant, flying turtle from a popular series of kaiju or Japanese giant monster, films produced by Daiei Motion Picture Company in Japan. Gamera was created to rival the success of Toho Studios’ Godzilla during the monster boom of the mid-to-late 1960s. Gamera has gained fame and notoriety as a Japanese icon in his own right.
Okay, back to story at hand. Gamera was awakened because of a nuclear accident. But, instead of just wanting to hang out at home base, Gamera takes to the skies with a bad attitude and a taste for violence and destruction. Did I mention that he can also breathe fire? Gamera resume is varied, dear readers.
I digress. Gamera soars through the wild blue yonder and finds his way to Tokyo. After Gamera destroys a family’s lighthouse, the child of the family Toshio (Yoshrio Uchida), loving all things turtle and reptile, just can’t find it in his heart to hate Gamera. He kinda digs him. And for some reason, Gamera kinda digs him right back. And a friendship is started.
But, not everyone loves this 197 foot creature. No, they really hate him. So, the scientists of Japan get together and develop the Z Plan. What was plans A-Y, you ask? Well, they must have sucked because they are on the Z Plan now with no explanation. Suffice to say they didn’t work, did they?
So, Z Plan is set into action. Will the love of a little boy save Gamera from destruction? Or does Gamera fall victim to this plot and his days of flying and burning are far behind him?
Gamera: The Giant Monsters is as fun as any other giant monster flick from Japan. I think Gamera definitely holds his own with Godzilla and I feel that Gamera has always been in Godzilla’s shadow, and that isn’t fair. Sort of like always a bridesmaid, never the bride, if you know what I mean. Gamera is just a cool and strange as Godzilla and I think there is room in our hearts for both of these big guys.
You don’t watch a movie like this for heavy character development or convoluted plots. This is about watching a giant creature smash and burn. And Gamera does that with a lot of panache.
Through research, I learned that after this film started the legacy of Gamera, he has gone through many transitions. In some films, he is the enemy of Japan, in others; he is a “hired gun” to defend the hapless citizens. But, this is the black and white original film and his first appearance, so this one is special.
I think this one is a no brainer as an addition to the collection. It is frivolous and outrageous fun. Or at least put it in the Netflix queue.
Gamera: The Giant Monster is presented in widescreen. The overall transfer is decent and the black levels are respectable. I don’t think Shout Factory had the best source material around, so this looks about as good as it can.
Gamera: the Giant Monster is presented in Mono 2..0 The dialogue is clear and the balance was respectable. This isn’t going to give the old sounds system a workout, but it is acceptable.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
Gamera: the Giant Monster is presented in a standard amaray case with Gamera’s cute mug on the cover.
There are some fun bonus features on this release. First up, a commentary provided by August Ragone, a Japanese film expert that provides a lot of information to take in. His approach is more academic and less entertaining, but a good listen.
Next up, A Look Back at Gamera has the director, the writer, special effects artist and costume designer talking about this film and others in the franchise. It is a great featurette and can’t be missed.
Also offered is the Original International Sales Brochure which is a hoot to peruse and rounding things out, a nice 12 page booklet with some more information on our favorite reptile.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10
The Movie 7/10
The Video 5/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7.5/10
Overall (not an average) 7/10