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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review: GAMERA THE BRAVE (2006)

We're closing in on the big day for Godzilla.  In preparation, my son and I created a list of several dozen Japanese-style monster movies to watch before May 16.  (Check out the list HERE.)

Today's movie is Gamera The Brave (2006).

I'll go first.
After the fantastic Heisei films, it would be a safe guess to think they'd carry on in that same vein for any new Gamera films.  Right? 
They didn't.  Sure, it'd be easy to connect the two films ... At the end of Gamera 3, the titular turtle was being swarmed by Gyaos.  At the beginning of this film, Gamera is also being swarmed by (far fewer) Gyaos. ...  But that's not what the filmmakers did.  It's easy to feel a little let down that they didn't continue that story, but it would have been an uphill climb for anyone to follow that trilogy. 
As it stands, Gamera the Brave sets out on its own and it works for the most part.
An older Gamera self-destructs to kill several Gyaos.  Decades later, a lonely boy finds an egg that hatches a special turtle. 
Now, if you've seen all of the films, you probably had "Tibby" flashbacks like I did.  Thankfully, we don't go that route.  The turtle and the occasional turtle special effects are cute, but it grows quickly.  And it retains its cuteness. 
Not so cute?  The evil monster of the flick, Zedus.  He's got Barugon's stabby tongue.  Other than that, he's goofy looking.  I'm not a fan of this particular kaiju. 
Although he does eat people ... which is pretty metal. 
This film does something new with the formula.  This time around it's "Children are friends to Gamera" instead of the reverse.  It is the children who save the monster and the day.  Of course, you'll remember that the insinuation of children into a film's events is one of many things that sucked hard about the original Gamera series.  Here, though, there seems to be some mystical bond between the kids and the turtle.  It works, for whatever reason. 
What else works?  The special and visual effects.  Holy crap.  It's a damn shame that this is the last "suit-based" monster film on the list because they've got it down to a science.  The compositing between real life and miniature sets and guys in suits is very often flawless.  The buildings are impossible to differentiate between model and legit.  Minus some dodgy CG flying Gamera, these are truly some of the best effects we're ever seen.  It's just a shame it's wasted on Zedus and Kid Gamera. 
(Also, I think it would have been far better if Gamera's first fireball came after he swallowed the red stone and not as a throwaway Guiron joke when the baby turtle blasted a kitchen knife.) 
Gamera the Brave ... yes, it's a kid's movie, but it's a nice one.  3.75 out of five atomic breath blasts.
My son's turn:
Well, this one is the last Dinosa- I mean, the last Gamera movie. I liked it because Gamera is awesome in this one, i don't like it because Gamera looks like a baby. 
So, rating wise, i'll say 3.7 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!!
Up next, The Host.  (Yikes.  Cinematic whiplash.)

(GIF from doomsdaypicnic)

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