Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe (review by Doug Smith)
Gone are the days of Gamera befriending know-it-all, obnoxious Japanese boys in tiny, upsetting shorts. This time, Gamera isn’t quite so wholesome, though he does end up befriending a teenage girl. Hey, at least she doesn’t have the Hot Pants Syndrome. This movie basically comes down to Gamera duking it out with some giant bat-like birds that shoot high frequency sonic beams out of their mouths, kind of like Kate Bush. Man, if you thought pigeons left bad stains on your car…
The film opens with a plutonium transport ship running aground on a giant, floating walnut. Panic ensues, but it’s not too long before the walnut begins to move by itself. The story immediately hits the newspapers, with headlines like, “PLUTONIUM SHIP DAMAGED BY HIT AND RUN ATOLL!!!” and “MYSTERIOUS STREAK OF MARINE ACCIDENTS CONTINUES!!!” The triple exclamation points make it triply important.
After the credits role and some Japanese girls talk about Atlantis and their parents, there’s just a few random scenes with the plutonium company guys, some scientist lady, and a couple of Japanese guys being attacked by some sort of creature. Then we go to the market where an overly enthusiastic check out lady introduces a plutonium ship guy to his boss’s daughter. He then proceeds to go home with her and makes supper for his boss, who then invites him to come along on the investigation expedition to the atoll.
Now then, back to scientist lady, where she’s talking to some grungy looking guy about an island and a bird. As you can tell, I really paid attention to the movie. At any rate, they go to the island and find it pretty much devastated. The scientist lady is slow to believe that a bird caused everything, but then she finds a big ol’ pile of birdy poo, which she proceeds to dig around in and finds her colleague’s glasses. They then go off into the woods and, sure enough, one of the birds flies overhead. Thank god it didn’t decide to drop one of those aforementioned piles right then. They give chase and the Defense Force (Japanese equivalent of the Air Force, I assume) picks up the bird on the radar, and the bird eats a dog and almost eats a very ugly screaming lady that looks like she could’ve been a character in any Finnish-Russian fantasy movie. Oh, by the way, there’s actually three birds.
Back to the plutonium company expedition on the atoll. It’s over 60 meters long and 45 meters wide. No, not Gamera’s penis, you sick bastards. The atoll. According to one of the scientists, the radiation is “extreemally” low, so it’s safe to go on it. They go ashore and find all sorts of little yin-yang artifacts and also a giant pointy thing sticking out of it, which they decide to dig out. Yeah, like Gamera wouldn’t feel a bunch of guys going at his back with pickaxes.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government has decided they want to capture the birds – which they’ve named Gyaos – alive. That’s a real good idea. I’m sure they’d make a great attraction at the zoo. “Come see the amazing Gyaos! Pay $25 and see it eat a live child!”
Once again, we go back to the expedition, where they’ve finally uncovered the pointy thing, which turns out to be some kind of plaque. It was most likely a little historical marker on some highway in Atlantis, like the boring ones you always used to hate stopping at on family road trips. It isn’t too long before the atoll starts shaking and glowing and out pops the chewy nougat center, which is actually Gamera. Incidentally, Gamera is really neat. I also hear he’s filled with turtle meat.
The movie goes on with one failed attempt to capture the birds after the other and the military thinking Gamera’s the bad guy. They apparently didn’t see the movies from the sixties, or they’d know that Gamera is friend to all children.
I liked this movie, but I’ve always been a fan of sweaty Japanese guys in rubber monster suits. Er, wait, that doesn’t sound good. At any rate, it’s definitely a must have for any kaiju collector. Even if you’re not necessarily into rubber monsters, you may still find it enjoyable. I give it 3 ½ yaks. We believe in Gamera!