Before we start I’d like to apologise for the lack of consistent uploads recently. I’ve been busy elsewhere and the computer I usually work from has started to lag out like crazy while using wordpress, so I haven’t been able to publish as much. I hope it gets sorted soon but until then, I apologise for the slip in consistent uploads.
Well I said I would give you a review of Gamera the Brave, so here you are. Gamera the Brave is a 2006 kaiju movie and was meant to usher in a new age for Gamera. After the 90s Heisei Trilogy, Gamera went silent for a few years, then this movie came out, only for him to go silent immediately after. The plan was to create a new trilogy or series of films following a new Gamera in a new movie universe, but sadly it never came to fruition. So without further ado, let’s get back into the swing of things with the kaiju reviews and take a look at Gamera the Brave.
If like me you came into the Gamera franchise with the Heisei Trilogy, you’ll probably find this story and tone to be quite a jarring one. This movie is distinctly kid friendly, with a heavy focus on friendship and care as opposed to the gritty violent nature of the trilogy before it. The story follows Gamera, or more accurately his son Toto, living his life as the pet of a little boy, only for his true nature to slowly unfold before the humans and he’s forced to take up the mantle of earth protector when a new threat appears in the form of the kaiju Zedus. Most of the movie is dedicated to scenes with Toru, Gamera’s owner and the little baby Gamera turtle having wacky adventures together before the real meat of the story begins, and there’s a lot of comedic scenes, particularly about Toru hiding his pet turtle from his dad. The movies pacing is a bit messy, the movie is pretty slow paced at the start and works well, but when Zedus shows up it becomes really fast paced and rushes the final act. The tone is pretty childish and I will admit this is all fine and dandy but unfortunately my standards for these movies are significantly darker thanks to the heisei trilogy. That being said this is a pretty fun movie, with some cute character moments, some iffy pacing and a somewhat decent story, you’ll find something to enjoy in this movie, just don’t expect too much kaiju action for a while.
- Toru (Ryo Tomioka): The main kid of the movie, Toru stands out among other Gamera kid characters as in the fact that he’s actually quite likeable. The old school Gamera movies had kid characters in them that were extremely annoying, but Toru is just a normal kid with normal goals and ideals and his main priority is to just be a good owner to Toto. His relationship with Toto is a cute one and I really do like the chemistry he has with this turtle monster, regardless of its size. he also doesn’t seem to suffer the same problem as other kid characters in Gamera movies, that being that he knows everything to defeat the enemy monster or help Gamera, making him a much more believable character.
- Everyone else: This is an odd one here. Usually with these movies I have a handful of individual characters to talk about, but this time round we don’t really have any. Toru is the only one who actually seems relevant to the plot, and while these other characters help him and toto on their journey, many of them don’t really have enough staying power to warrant separate analysis’. Toru’s friends act mainly as comedic support, his dad does literally nothing of importance other than serve as the butt for physical comedy, and other than that there’s no one else of merit or importance to discuss.
This movie doesn’t have spectacular cinematography for the most part, it’s pretty standard and the setting and tone doesnt allow for very much in terms of presentation. However what is definitely of merit are the practical effects on display. Gamera/Toto looks great and while the suit itself looks unintentionally adorable it has great personality and detail. Zedus also looks great, as I mentioned in my Gamera Villains Ranked Best to Worst list I talked about how much I loved Zedus’ design, and if it wasn’t for his lackluster execution his design alone would make him one of my favourite monsters of the franchise. The combat in this movie looks great too, for as limited as it was, the kaiju fights were entertaining and a lot of abilities were displayed with surprising effect. So while it isn’t as extravagant as previous Gamera movies, the presentation here was fine, with some good monster effects.
- Gamera/Toto: Gamera is fine in this movie. He spends most of his time as a little tiny normal sized turtle, but for the most part the effects look pretty good on him no matter the size. His big form looks like a muppet baby version of Gamera, and while it is still very good effects it just has about as much menace as a fart in the wind. I get that they were going for a more kid friendly vibe with this one, but even the Showa, and equally kid friendly, Gamera was at least a little bit threatening, unlike this chubby little turtle. So funny enough Gamera himself is the worst part of the movie, he serves more as a platform for cute character moments and while he’s probably the Gamera with the most screen time, his also the one with the littlest impact on both the movie and me as a viewer.
- Zedus: The antagonist of this movie, and oh boy did they waste an amazing design on somewhat of a lacking villain. Zedus is this weird combination of Godzilla and Sonic the Hedgehog, having a damn intimidating look and a scary personality based on appearance alone. However this doesn’t carry over into his motivation, history or even abilities for that matter. First off this monsters signature ability is his long stretchy tongue, a threatening weapon, bu compared to other monsters its a pretty poor weapon. His history is nonexistent, showing up out of literally nowhere and it’s never explained what he is or where he came from. I know this isn’t exactly a big deal but to me it’s a major issue since the previous trilogy had some pretty unique monsters with regard to their history, and to have a monster that just shows up akin to the likes of a Power Rangers monster is a severe downgrade. He’s not awful, just nothing to write home about, despite being one of the best looking kaiju’s in the franchise.
- Story: 3.5/5 – A decent kids film story with a nice message about friends and family bonds, a fine first act, and a rushed finish. I did like the humor a lot, it did make me chuckle and I will give them credit for having a story that at the very least kept me interested.
- Characters: 2/5 – Toru is fine, and he makes up that 2 score. The other characters are near pointless and only serve to fill dialogue space and act as second bananas to both Toru and Gamera.
- Presentation: 4/5 – The monster suits look great, the designs are good, the combat is pretty fun, the presentation on this one is just really nice and polished.
- The Monsters: 3/5 – Gamera is pretty inconsequential in this one, his design is a bit too childlike for my taste and his overall impact is somewhat small barring the final fight. Zedus looks awesome and the effects on him and Gamera are pretty great, but he’s a shallow and pretty dull villain and really serves more as a obstacle as opposed to a threat.
- Enjoyability: 3/5 – This movie was a pretty fun experience, it had funny moments, some stand out moments and generally was fun to watch.
- (Unique Grade) Gamera…ness: 3/5 – This movie is more akin to the showa series, with the heisei trilogies production value. It’s a fine monster flick but not exactly one that fans of the heisei trilogy would find to be worth watching.
Final Grade: 3.5/5
This isn’t a great kaiju movie, but I wouldn’t call it bad by any means. It’s got a fine story and some good effects, but other than that it’s quite forgettable and while I would have loved more Gamera to come from this movie, I can see why it didn’t take off like the Heisei trilogy did before it. If you’re a fan of kaiju films it’s definitely worth a watch, even if you like the darker films in the series give it a watch if you’re in the mood for some silly kaiju fun.
Thank you for watching I hope you enjoyed it. If you did please consider leaving a like and following my blog for updates on future posts. Also follow me on twitter @joe_reviews for further updates and general nonsense. Till next time.