It seems like an age ago, but my 11-year-old son and I decided to watch an ever-growing list of Japanese-style monster movies before the new Godzilla film opens in May.
Today's movie is Gamera 2: Advent of Legion (aka Gamera 2: Attack of Legion; 1996).
My son goes first:
Well, this one is when a alien race of mutant bug-creatures that rely on air pressure and eat glass and plant eggs that explode and they can combine into a giant of them. I liked the fight at the end and the scene where they swarmed the subway. (Subway, eat Gamera.)
So,rating wise, i'll say 3.6 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of AwesomenessMy turn:
I'll get my main complaint out of the way first: Gamera doesn't show up until half-an-hour into the film. Monster-wise, we only get the small Legion creatures ... and that's it.
But that's not entirely bad. We get to spend time with Midori, a science teacher, her friend, Obitsu, and a JSDF colonel. In contrast to many monster movies -- especially the older Gamera films -- these people feel like real people. They're not caricatures.
Other complaints? The use of computer-generated effects. Check that. Some of the effects. These were the early days and they were certainly ambitious ... unfortunately, they haven't held up too well. I'll point to the scene wherein Gamera gets swarmed by the small Legion as a prime example.
There are, however, other scenes with CGI where it still looks fine. They're ambitious and I appreciate that.
Also, the music. It's serviceable. It fits the mood ... but there's nothing memorable about it. As I type this, it's only two hours after we finished the film but I couldn't hum a lick of the score. It's a shame that, beyond the "turtle meat" Gamera march of old, there isn't a recognizable theme that is exclusively Gamera's.
Good stuff. Legion itself. Huge, interesting and scary. The smaller Legion escape some of the traps that the tiny Destoroyah fell into. While Destoroyah were sometimes just action figures on screen, Legion doesn't feel like that. Plus, they weren't ripping off Alien. They often felt genuinely scary. I guess popping a subway conductor's head will do that. The science behind Legion felt legit, too. Silicon-based life; flowering; the oxygen. It could all be BS, but it passed my sniff test.
The action is very good. There's one shot, in particular, of Gamera's approach to the Sendai airport ... it's just well done. And then the big Legion and Gamera fight until Sendai is virtually annihilated. Legion then continues to kick unholy amounts of butt in its approach to Tokyo:
The structure of Legion's approach is handled well. We're told the time of each encounter and the geography feels clear. Better than even that, we see a lot of the action from the street level. Looking up through stoplights toward Gamera and Legion makes it feel that much more accessible and real.
In the end, Legion unleashes some sort of energy whips (a la that first Angel in Evangelion, right?):
And then Gamera unleashes a heretofore unknown power: a massive energy blast from the chest.
There's also a great shot of Gamera walking down the street, the force of his footfalls causing items on the sidewalk to jump and glass in phonebooths to shatter. I'm not sure why, but I loved that.
I should mention that the teen girl, Asagi, is back. She's still wearing her magatama amulet, though her direct connection to Gamera was supposedly severed at the end of the last film Here, she's still pulling for the turtle and the magatama shatters in her hand when Gamera reawakens in Sendai.
I know a lot of people are down on Gamera 2, especially after the first movie of this era, but I felt it carries on the series more than adequately.
Here's the trailer:
Gamera 2: Advent of Legion ... a very solid entry. 4 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Up next, Rebirth of Mothra 2.
(GIFs from Tokumonster)