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Terrific entry that missed it's audience...
on December 27, 2008
I saw GAMERA THE BRAVE with an open mind. From the get-go it appeared I was in for a kiddie film along the lines of Toho's uneven REBIRTH OF MOTHRA series-somewhat forgettable. However, seeing it... Gamera The Brave exheeded expectations. The thing it had against it was how can another Gamera film top Shusuke Kaneko's terrific 90's trilogy of films? Well, it doesn't top it and doesn't need to-you don't have to make comparisons-it's apples and oranges. GAMERA THE BRAVE is it's own little film, that happens yet again, in another timeline, another "Gamera Universe" as it were. The film opens with a terrific "retro" battle, in 1973, with Gamera and several Gyaos flying monsters-witnessed by among others, a young boy(All of the cast here are dressed appropriately in 1970's clothes and have 70's haircuts-a nice detail). Gamera, shown full grown in 1973, is re-imagined and much more of a gnarled-looking giant tortoise. This takes place all during the credits with some fantastic and unique music in the background soundtrack. A massive explosion and Gamera is gone-with the Gyaos. Flash forward to 2006 when a young boy-the son of the young boy we first see in 1973 but all grown up- finds a small egg on what's left of the island Gamera made his last stand on. The egg hatches into a small turtle which keeps on getting bigger. Meanwhile, the Japanese government announces it is disbanding the division of the military who dealt with giant monsters, since none have been seen since 1973. Elsewhere, ships begin disappearing mysteriously...as the small Gamera-named "Toto"- grows ever more...and senses something is not right.
The film has terrific visual effects. Flawless, I'd even say wih regards to matting and working in digital CG work with old-school rubber suits and miniatures. There is also some great character development and, at the end of the film, it adds up to a coherent, memorable and "quiet" giant monster film that leaves you with a good feeling. It entertains adults as much as kids-a rarity. There's also some genuinely funny scenes including an in-joke to the 1960's films.
GAMERA THE BRAVE came out quietly in Japan, never took off at the box office and, failed leading many filmmakers to conclude once and for all, that the Kaiju Eiga genre is dead to audiences there.
It's a terrific film and worthy of any Kaiju-fan's collection of films.