Gamera is Evolving… and so are his Foes…
Boy oh boy, you cannot call yourself a fan of Gamera if you have not seen this film, for like its predecessor “Gamera: Guardian of the Universe,” it is by far one of, if not THE, best films in the entire Gamera franchise, and easily one of the best kaiju films ever made (and this is coming from a hardcore Godzilla fan). Picking up where the last film left off, Japan finds itself under attack by a new kaiju menace, the intergalactic arthropods, Legion. Now, while its true the Legion are yet another invasive monster species like the Gyaos from the previous film, and that alien kaiju hitching rides on meteors is hardly a new concept, their motives for invading the earth and the exact nature of the threat they pose is entirely different. Earth is being used as their breeding ground, and unfortunately these creatures spread their numbers across the universe via a complex method I won’t go into here for it would spoil too much of the film for you, but, be assured the process is quite hazardous to human life and would eventually devastate the planet if left unchecked. That is where everyone’s favorite flying fire-breathing turtle comes into play, Gamera choosing to once again come to earth’s defense despite having fulfilled its original purpose of defeating Gyaos in the last movie. What ensues is a desperate race against time to destroy the lethal symbiotic Legion before they level all of Japan, and maybe even the world!
Toshiyuki Nagashima plays Colonel Watarase, Tamotsu Ishibashi is his righthand man Hanatani, and Miki Mizuno plays Midori Honami, the film’s resident science wiz, the three of them make for a very likeable main cast of human characters. Ayako Fujitani reprises her role as Asagi Kusanagi, and does a good job at it even though she’s initially overshadowed by the new cast as they directly oppose the Legion threat and she gets dragged back into it as she becomes aware of Gamera’s need for her help once again. Yukijiro Hotaru also returns as the comical Inspector Oosako, now merely a security guard who comes face to face with the Legion while on the job, though his role in the film is minor and just helps to connect the past film with the sequel more closely. The acting for this film is really good and doesn’t come off as cheesy or campy, they all do a good job of making you feel the sense of growing peril as the story progresses.
Played by suit actor Akira Ohashi, Gamera’s new look for the film doesn’t deviate too much from the previous one, only the head is smaller, sleeker, and much meaner looking, conveying much more expression, the head and neck movements appearing very lifelike. Also, the arms now have retractable flipper like appendages that appear to operate like the wings on a plane, making Gamera more aerodynamic. The Legion “soldiers” resemble generic man-sized bugs to be honest, except for their weird cyclops like eyes, and remind me of one of Destroyah’s earlier forms from “Godzilla vs Destroyah.” However, they are still appear pretty threatening as they go about their tasks with insect like efficiency, and the suits and CGI used to portray them are topnotch, especially the scene where they actually swarm the much larger Gamera like ants defending their colony. The main event however is the Queen Legion, a beautifully designed and original looking monster who is often argued to be Gamera’s strongest foe ever thanks to her positively devastating assortment of special abilities, each of which appear to match or counter Gamera’s own arsenal. Trust me, Gamera’s brutal and graphic battles against Queen Legion and her swarm will have you on the edge of your seat wondering if the “Guardian of the Universe” will prevail this time or ultimately be brought to his scaly green knees by his deadliest foe yet. Queen Legion is portrayed by Mizuho Yoshida, an accomplished suit actor best known for playing Godzilla in “Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack,” the most successful of the Millennium era Godzilla films. Yoshida also plays Zedus in “Gamera the Brave” as well as Desghidorah and Dagahra in the “Rebirth of Mothra” trilogy. Believe me, with a resume like that, you can expect great things from Yoshida’s performance during this picture.
If you wish to see a solid example of suitmation style special effects being pushed to their limits combined with CGI and an entertaining storyline, with monsters menacing cities and people in ways you haven’t seen before in other films, then do yourself a favor and check out “Gamera 2: Advent of Legion,” and prepare to have your mind blown!
P.S. people wearing glasses or carrying cellphones may be at risk of attack by Legion while watching this film, you have been warned (you’ll get the joke after viewing the movie, trust me, heh heh).