Movies and Film

Kaiju Excellence – Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (1996)

gamera 2
Not wasting any time after the success of their rebooted Gamera, Daiei decided to put another film out the following year.  Now there was a chance that rushing a film out so soon after the first would result in lower production values or a story that would be less than ideal, but as it was, the film would turn out to be even better than the first and it would feature the first new original kaiju to be featured in a Gamera film in almost twenty years.  Ayako Fujitani would return to the film as Asagi, the girl who had that special connection to Gamera while the rest of the cast would be new but just as good as the first.  Also returning to the film would be director Shusuke Kaneko and writer Kazunori Itō ensuring that this film would follow along the same path that was set out in Guardian of the Universe.  Saying that expectations were running high for this movie would be an understatement.

gamera 2-7The good thing is that even though Guardian of the Universe was a pretty great film, Attack of Legion exceeded it on all levels.  The threat was bigger and the consequences more dire, the story wider in scope and the kaiju larger than any that had come before in Gamera’s long history.  The movie was grand in scope and it helped that Itō’s story was not confined to just one city, but all of Japan with the ramifications possibly spilling over into the rest of the world if Gamera were to fail.  The film opens with the new kaiju, or more specifically its drones, and at first it seems a little underwhelming as the monsters are small and fairly unimpressive though they are many.  They then seem like a credible threat when they overtake Gamera like flies to honey and it actually looks a little horrific to see it them swarm the monster.  We soon learn that they are just the forefront though as the real monster soon makes itself known, a creature that almost dwarfs Gamera and is stronger than him in every way, including having multiple powers to call upon.

gamera 2-14The size and scope of Legion was very imposing to say the least, and the filmmakers and special effects crew went all out on this one.  This was no mere rubber suit monster, but an intricate wonder that rivaled the best creature design any series had to offer.  Here was a creature that had never been seen in a Gamera film before, one that had no human legs or human arms to be seen and was not an embarrassment to watch.  Legion would be a threat that would give our hero a run for his money, though of course, you cannot have the hero lose in his own film so eventually, you know Gamera will come out on top no matter how remarkable the creature might be.

Just like Guardian of the Universe which was a little darker than all the previous movies before that, this movie would be even more so.  From quoting the bible about Legion to seeing Gamera seemingly killed in what looked to be a nuclear explosion and to the severing of Gamera’s ties to humanity, the story would find the monsters just that.  There was little comedy in the film unlike the previous one which was just a little lighter, and with this film, Gamera now proved that he could stand up against the powerhouse that was the Godzilla franchise.  Never before was the material in a Gamera movie taken seriously, often being made for kids, but with Shusuke Kaneko’s trilogy, the way everyone viewed this monster would change for the better.  This film would also see Gamera feature a new power, one that makes the creature more frightening than he has ever seemed, which also happens at a cost after he loses that human bond.  It is a great development for the kaiju as he has been fairly static since his creation and one that should prove interesting going forward should it make its return.  Truly, Gamera has proven to be a monster for the ages and this film a masterpiece of the genre.

4.5 out of 5

First entry – Giant Monster Gamera (1965)
Second entry – The Monolith Monsters (1957)
Third entry – Gamera vs. Barugon (1966)
Fourth entry – Tarantula (1955)
Fifth Entry – Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967)
Sixth entry – Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)
Seventh Entry – Gamera vs. Viras (1968)
Eighth entry – The Cyclops (1957)
Ninth entry – Gamera vs. Guiron (1969)
Tenth entry – Monsters (2010)
Eleventh entry – Gamera vs. Jiger (1970)
Twelth entry – The Killer Shrews (1959)
Thirteenth entry – Gamera vs. Zigra (1971)
Fourteenth Entry – The Deadly Mantis (1957)
Fifteenth Entry – Space Monster Gamera (1980)
Sixteenth entry – King Dinosaur (1955)
Seventeenth entry – Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)
Eighteenth entry – The Black Scorpion (1957)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.