Friday, 14 March 2014

Gamera 2: Advent of Legion

Gamera's problem is that he doesn't have a pop. He lacks a memorable roar, a pounding, foreboding theme tune doesn't announce his every appearance. Gamera's appeal is a little less obvious. He isn't a show-off, he's a stocky mid-card scrapper that soaks up punishment and fights like hell. This humble approach to world saving informs the tone and reflects the slighter budget of Daiei's films. So while we don't get the sweeping majesty of a moving mountain bumbling through a minutely detailed recreation of the Tokyo skyline, we do get a screaming, bleeding turtle covered in tiny, razor sharp crustaceans.

The basic thrust of Kazunori Ito's script delivers on misleading American publicity for Godzilla vs The Thing, namely a heroic monster fighting an alien interloper that threatens to consume our world. Gamera 2: Advent of Legion matches the gigantic turtle against multiplying alien drones and their airborne crab queen. Both title creatures take a beating. Shinji Higuchi's team roll with the carnage, dreaming up majestic new modes for the shredded pugilists. Two films deep, it feels like the strength of the Heisei Gamera cycle has been a lack of expectation at a conception level. The Godzilla films of the period started off strong with new, vivid enemies, but got bogged down in repetition when the box office wasn't busted. Gamera succeeds through modesty. His films don't have to be the year's biggest earners, they just have to be solid monster movies. Toho was obviously taking notes, Gamera 2's influence is all over the Millennium Godzillas.

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