admitted in the past to having a fondness for Godzilla movies. (Real
Godzilla movies, that is, not the mutated iguana of the recent Hollywood
version.) Gamera was another movie monster I had a fondness for, but I
always thought of him as a lesser quality replacement for Godzilla. When
I was a child, if a Saturday morning TV horror movie show had a Gamera
movie showing rather than a Godzilla movie, I'd watch it, but not be as
wrapped up in it. Well, Gamera has recently returned to the big screen.
Actually, he was on the big screen in Japan in 1995, with the Americanized
version coming to U.S. home video just this year.
Guardian of the Universe
Starring: Ayako Fujitani, Hirotaro Honda,
and Yukijiro Hotaru
Gamera is a giant turtle who can fly. In his original incarnation, from
the 1960's, he was considered a friend to the children of the Earth, saving
them from evil aliens and other giant monsters. Like the Godzilla series
had done in the mid-1980's, the makers of the Gamera series have decided
to start from scratch with this new film. Gamera is now an ancient guardian
of the Earth that is awakened when evil threatens.
The evil in this film is a
species of giant bird-like creatures called the Gyaos, who have awakened
and threaten to eat humanity. Gamera, who
first appears encased in a rock-like substance and floating in the Pacific
Ocean, also awakens and an inevitable battle occurs between the two giant
creatures. Of course, the humans have to figure out that Gamera is a good
creature, and that provides the "tension" in the film. Of course,
with a plot like this, the script never really provides much doubt that
Gamera will eventually be vindicated.
Of course, like every movie that puts a man in a rubber suit and asks
the audience to believe it's a giant monster, the effects are mostly less-than-spectacular.
However, this movie does have some surprisingly good effects sequences.
It's a nice change of pace to see real military hardware moving into position
instead of the usual models used in the 1960's.
Guardian of the Universe is a guilty pleasure movie. It's nothing
more, nothing less. It's mindless fun and that's something Hollywood can't
seem to find its heart to make when it comes to giant monster movies.
The 1998 Godzilla remained mindless without the fun. Even this film has
a stronger script than the current Godzilla flick.
Fujitani is Steven Seagal's daughter. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)