Gamera the Brave
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In a beautiful seaside town, 11-year old Toru has lost his mother. In his sorrow, he stumbles across a tiny egg that hatches into a turtle he calls Toto. As his tiny turtle is missing, Toru soon learns that and his pet may fulfill the legend of Gamera, the giant turtle protector of the universe. When a giant lizard monster rampages and threatens destruction, will little Toto rise to the occasion?
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Honestly I like the first 45 minutes better than the monster fights in the last half
Update: Ok I have now watched this every weekend since I got it. It has now exceeded Terminator, A Christmas Story , Funny Farm and Iron Man 2 for the most viewed films I have. A true classic!
Also the soundtrack to this is AWE SUM-None better music to a Japanese monster flick since Mothra
PLEASE put this director on the next Godzilla film...I beg of you
Okay - deep breath - recovered now. ASIDE from the absolute adorable-ness of Toto/Gamera, I quite enjoyed this movie. Overall, it was nicely put together and quite entertaining.
As mentioned in other reviews, though, this movie really centers around the main character (can't remember his name, I'm ashamed to say) and his relationship with Toto/Gamera. Having lost his mother recently, the boy makes friends with a baby turtle. He names the turtle Toto, which is what his mother used to call him. Now a monster has appeared. The boy and his friends begin to suspect that Toto is a new Gamera... but the last Gamera sacrificed itself to save the city. Is Toto Gamera? If he fights the monster, will he die?
If you're just looking for two monsters beating each other up, there's not a lot of that here. Toto doesn't even actually become Gamera until almost the end of the movie. That's just not what the movie's about.
Some good and bad stuff:
Good- The kid. Face it, movie kids always have the potential to be REALLY annoying (have you seen any of the old Gamera movies?), but that's not a problem here.
The turtle. As mentioned before, it's just so darned cute. There are a couple parts that I felt were a bit *too* cute (the kitchen scene was a bit much), but it is a children's movie.
Zebus. Not a very special monster. Just a big pinkish lizardy thing. I consider that to be a plus in this case. Given that the monster battle is a less important part of the story than the characters/relationships, I'm glad they didn't go nuts with a super-mega-ultra-powerful whatsis. Something like Legion (from the other Gamera series) would have been terribly out of place here.
Bad- The red pearl. Not Gamera's red stone. I'm talking about the one that guy ( I suck at names) uses to make the bracelet for his daughter before her surgery. The scientists have some as well. WHY are they so tacky? I've seen better looking stuff at the dollar store. Maybe that's just me. Oh well.
Weird- The whole "Kidnap Gamera and Take Him to Our Secret Lab So We Can Pump Him Full Of Red Liquid We Made From These (Tacky) Red Pearls" thing. They try to explain that the (tacky) red pearls are bits left over from the last Gamera and they're full of "Gamera Energy" or something like that, but it definitely feels like a speedbump in the movie.
The Red Stone Relay. Very dramatic and inspirational. But the whole time, I kept thinking "Gamera is a friend to all children." Maybe these kids know that...have *they* seen the old movies?
Wrap up: I do recommend this movie if you are a Gamera fan. Just remember, this is not a movie about two monsters. It's about a boy and his turtle.
The film is the latest in a long series of movies featuring Gamera, a giant turtle who serves as a sort of cinematic rival to Godzilla. Prior to this entry, Gamera had appeared in a highly acclaimed film trilogy during the 1990s, which had a fairly dark and serious tone. By contrast, "Gamera the Brave" is more lighthearted and cheerful. And while many fans prefer the 1990s trilogy to this movie, I must respectfully disagree.
To me, "Gamera the Brave" is one of the most unique Japanese monster movies, and therefore one of the best. Most films in the genre are fairly predictable; they focus almost exclusively on the military and scientists, feel very plot-heavy, and tend to have dull human characters. By contrast, this Gamera film focuses on the relationship between a widowed father and his son, and actually does a very good job of making these characters sympathetic. Even relatively minor characters, like the family's neighbors, are well-drawn and likable. In short, this movie dares to ask the question "how would a 'normal' family be impacted by a giant monster attack?" It's a great change of pace, coming after 50-odd years of formulaic monster movies.
The film also boasts some good direction, better-than-average special effects (especially for the genre), and a really beautiful setting. Meanwhile, if you prefer monster mayhem to scenes of character development, you may be impressed by the well-staged battle at the end, which features tons of extras, chaos and debris.
As for the product itself - well, I've seen the film on both DVD and Blu Ray, and the Blu Ray print is clearly superior. (For example, the opening battle sequence is murky on DVD, but quite clear on Blu Ray.) Unfortunately, another reviewer mentioned that the Blu Ray has some trouble with its 5.1 sound; and since I don't have that setup, I can't comment on whether the problem is universal. Anyway, both versions feature a pretty interesting special feature, which starts as a "director's lecture" and segues into a more traditional making-of documentary. Rounding out the special features, you get a nice selection of trailers for other, equally bizarre movies. Overall, I'm impressed with both the movie and its presentation.