If you should happen to read the synopsis of this movie it is hard to be excited for it, especially after seeing what has come before, specifically the Heisei trilogy of films from the late 1990s. Where those films advanced our beloved monster past his childish origins to be taken seriously alongside Godzilla in the kaiju market, this film wished to undo all of that or at least so it seemed. It would ignore all that had come before and start fresh and when it came down to it, it felt a little like a slap in the face. But… if you should actually give this film a shot, you will not be disappointed. It was actually really, really good. Instead of thinking of this film as a reboot, simply think of it as an alternative version if that helps, one that can rest alongside the other films and compliment them rather than take their place.
The film sees a young boy named Toru finding a turtle egg one day on an island and when it hatches, decides to raise it as a pet. That turtle though is a little, tiny baby Gamera unbeknownst to him, and when it starts to grow at an exponential rate and is able to fly, he realizes that Toto, his name for the turtle, is not just any normal turtle. When Zedus arises to start attacking the town, the young Gamera must face him without his full power until Toru and a group of children conspire to bring Gamera what he needs to succeed.
So the first thing that is evidently apparent is that yes, the film went back to being geared more towards children yet it is done so that it can be enjoyed by the whole family. That doubt that maybe it would not live up to the Gamera films of yesteryear are extinguished and you realize that just because Gamera might be a ‘friend to children’ once again, does not automatically mean that the movie will be terrible. In fact, Gamera the Brave stands as one of the best Gamera films of all time. Most of that can be attributed to a great story by Yukari Tatsui and some strong direction by Ryuta Tasaki, but more importantly to the actors including Ryo Tomioka who plays the child Toro. What was really great about the film was that while family driven, it still took the material seriously and casting a child such as Tomioka and writing material for him that did not make him a fool like the children that appeared in earlier efforts was extremely smart on Kadokawa Pictures’ part.
There are some great special effects, though they are limited compared to the Guardian of the Universe era of films, and Gamera is seen looking great in all of his stages as he grows. Zedus looks like a Tyranosaurs Rex for the most part with some added fins and whatnot and it is great that the filmmakers decided not to go back to the Gyaos-well once again, instead delivering up a new villain for our hero to fight. On top of that the film looks beautiful, no doubt thanks to Kazuhiro Suzuki who was in charge of the cinematography. Everything was big and bright and gave the film a nice light, airy feel, even when Zedus would show up to terrorize everyone.
At first glance, it does not seem like Gamera the Brave is a worthy follow-up to the films that have come before, but it truly is. It is a different beast, not trying to replace or discredit those other films, simply wanting to try something new. This film is just another take on an established property, one that might have been trying to re-introduce audiences to the creature, yet sadly remains the last Gamera picture to have ever been made up until this point in time. It might be a little sweet and maybe a little sentimental, but if that is the note it is to be left upon, it is a good one.
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)
Nineteenth entry – Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (1996)
Twentieth Entry – Them! (1954)
Twenty-First entry – Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris (1999)
Twenty-second entry – The Giant Gila Monster (1959)