Movies & DVDs – Gamera The Brave (2006)

25 02 2007

Gamera The Brave

I was hunting for some DVDs at a store during the recent holidays when I spotted the words ‘G-A-M-E-R-A’ on a particular DVD. It struck a cord with me because I had always remembered seeing a movie in my childhood that had a giant turtle battling monsters of equal gigantic proportions. I believe the movie was voiced over in Mandarin and the turtle that saved the day was know as ‘Shen Gui’ or ‘Turtle God’… if you translate it literally. As such, I had never known that turtle by its Japanese name of Gamera.

That was until several months back when I started to do some digging to find out the title of that movie I watched as kid then. With Wikipedia these days, I was able to associate confidently the name Gamera to the giant turtle from the fragments of the movie I recollected from my memory.

What got me searching was the desire to re-watch that particular movie which I remembered was rather touching. I think I cried in the theatre then. But my search landed me several Gamera movies spanning from the 1960s to the 1990s. I’ve narrowed the possibilities to the 1980s period. And since the only Gamera movie then is Gamera Super Monster from 1980, this is most probably the Gamera movie I am after. Now, I’d just have to get my hands on one!

So until then, I bought Gamera The Brave to help me re-capture some of that giant turtle battling action. This is the twelveth Gamera movie and it commemorats Gamera’s 40th anniversary. Directed by Ryuta Tasaki, this latest Gamera movie sees an 11-year old boy, Toru Aizawa, discovering a tiny egg. The Gamera hatchling emerges from the egg and shows abnormally rapid growth. Being kids, his friends and him do not know that it is a Gamera similar to another which disappeared 33 years ago.

With a giant terrapin as the saviour of the day, you can expect an opponent of similar proportions. Well, this is in the form of giant frill-necked lizard called Zedus. Initially, feeding on a diet of sailors from the ships it wrecked, Zedus eventually ventured onto the land. And this was where it would meet an adolescent (but quite potent) Gamera.

Ok, enough mentioning of the plot. I must say that the animation effects for most parts of the film were really good. Zedus and Gamera were not rendered using CG. I believe they were more like puppets or models. And this makes it more realistic. The city blocks that get trashed as the two mammoth combatants lock horns looked very real! I kept scrutinising the buildings to examine every detail. There was a particular skyscraper that Zedus climbed which was very well constructed. It cracked realistically under its weight, the lighting was like the sun’s and it did not look like a minature model.

The only down side to these effects is actually Gamera. I felt that it looked rather stiff most of the time. It looked best when it was transported on a trailer – unconscious! But Gamera was great as it was growing up. I particularly enjoyed those scenes with the kids playing with it and finding Gamera a new home when it grew too large! There is a scene where Aizawa senior’s chopper fell to the floor and landed in front of the then-small Gamera. I believe it was a tribute to Guiron’s battle with Gamera in one of the earlier films. Nice touch!

Gamera the Brave also revisits an old theme that Gamera is the Friend of the Children. Look out for the children relay scene which saw the children look out for Gamera when he need it most. However, with Gamera all battered and bleeding, I felt Toru’s lecture in a particular scene was rather too long and unappropriate. I mean, Gamera is getting his ass seriously kicked and this kid just won’t give me the Gummy juice till I hear him out! If I was Gamera, I might have swoted him and get the stuff that I need before Zedus get more green juices out of me again! Anyway, it’s a small matter. Thankfully, for the rest of the movie, I found it enjoyable.

This movie also sees a different design for Gamera. Gone is that tough, nasty and pointy look back in those days Gamera saw battles after battles. This new Gamera is rather… um.. cute. It’s probably not fully grown I guess. It’s head is pretty round and has 2 big round eyes. No wonder the children loved it so much! He is probably not in the league of Ultraman and Godzilla in this movie… but still tough as nails.

Hmm… I may look out for a Medicom Gamera when I am in Hong Kong next month! I’ve seen the pictures and it looks pretty good!







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