I am not an expert on Kaiju films. I dabbled very briefly with some of the Godzilla films years back but I never dove into it to the extent that some people have. I do enjoy them when I do see them and when Sam mentioned he was doing a mini Gamera marathon, I thought it was a good of a time as any to break out my Millcreek Entertainment set of the films. I was assigned Gamera: Guardian of the Universe from 1995.
I’ve never watched a single Gamera film so I really lucked out on getting this film as it is basically a reboot of the franchise. It is about the discovery of Gamera, who keeps floating into the way of ships, and ancient evil genetically engineered carnivorous birds that have been attacking people.
The film opens with a couple of ships on their way back to Japan that come across a mysterious moving atoll that almost tears a ship carrying plutonium right open. An investigation team is set up and they climb aboard the atoll where they find odd otherworldly metal comma shaped pieces and a very old looking plank with strange runes that read, “We commit to the cradle of time the Last Hope, Gamera. May he awaken with the Shadow of Evil, Gyaos.”There also was a team sent to the island to investigate the bird attacks. They are ordered to capture the birds and they do so using flash photography, tranquilizer guns, and a baseball stadium with a retractable dome. Unfortunately one of the birds escape but a giant tortoise arises from the sea and batters the escaped bird.
Everyone is straight freaking out about the tortoise thing because it is going to be a bigger threat than the birds. They’re a bunch of dummies though because it turns out that inscription is about that tortoise Gamera who is there to protect the world against the birds Gyaos. Along the way a young girl is gifted one of the strange metal pieces and becomes psychically linked to Gamera. Gamera’s injuries even appear on the young girl’s body!
There is a lot to digest in this film. It is well-paced which I’ve noticed isn’t always kaiju movies’ strong points, and apart from some early CGI looks beautiful. In fact even with that early CGI I feel like it stands the test of time. The monster mayhem is top form stuff, with some physical fights and elemental blast effects. Gamera’s fireball breath and Gyaos’s steel melting bad breath are really neat. Gamera even has rocket boosters in its appendages! The icing on top of the cake that is Gamera: Guardian of the Universe though is its end theme, Myth performed by Bakufu Slump. A rocking little song that I would have definitely blasted loud in my Toyota Camry back in college had I discovered this movie then. I am looking forward to also watching the sequel to this film, Gamera 2: Attack of Legion. If you don’t feel like going all the way back to 1967 to get a fix of Gamera, this is the best starting point and you can work backwards or forwards from here.