Bob Eggleton | Providence, RI United States | 12/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw GAMERA THE BRAVE with an open mind. From the get-go it appeared I was in for a kiddie film along the lines of Toho's uneven REBIRTH OF MOTHRA series-somewhat forgettable. However, seeing it... Gamera The Brave exheeded expectations. The thing it had against it was how can another Gamera film top Shusuke Kaneko's terrific 90's trilogy of films? Well, it doesn't top it and doesn't need to-you don't have to make comparisons-it's apples and oranges. GAMERA THE BRAVE is it's own little film, that happens yet again, in another timeline, another "Gamera Universe" as it were. The film opens with a terrific "retro" battle, in 1973, with Gamera and several Gyaos flying monsters-witnessed by among others, a young boy(All of the cast here are dressed appropriately in 1970's clothes and have 70's haircuts-a nice detail). Gamera, shown full grown in 1973, is re-imagined and much more of a gnarled-looking giant tortoise. This takes place all during the credits with some fantastic and unique music in the background soundtrack. A massive explosion and Gamera is gone-with the Gyaos. Flash forward to 2006 when a young boy-the son of the young boy we first see in 1973 but all grown up- finds a small egg on what's left of the island Gamera made his last stand on. The egg hatches into a small turtle which keeps on getting bigger. Meanwhile, the Japanese government announces it is disbanding the division of the military who dealt with giant monsters, since none have been seen since 1973. Elsewhere, ships begin disappearing mysteriously...as the small Gamera-named "Toto"- grows ever more...and senses something is not right.
The film has terrific visual effects. Flawless, I'd even say wih regards to matting and working in digital CG work with old-school rubber suits and miniatures. There is also some great character development and, at the end of the film, it adds up to a coherent, memorable and "quiet" giant monster film that leaves you with a good feeling. It entertains adults as much as kids-a rarity. There's also some genuinely funny scenes including an in-joke to the 1960's films.
GAMERA THE BRAVE came out quietly in Japan, never took off at the box office and, failed leading many filmmakers to conclude once and for all, that the Kaiju Eiga genre is dead to audiences there.
It's a terrific film and worthy of any Kaiju-fan's collection of films."
The subtitled Japanese version is awesome!
JOHN MCVEY | 12/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are a fan of the recent Japanese run of Gamera movies, this rendition is a can't miss! They covered all the bases; there was character development, there were cute and cuddly baby turtles, there were giant monster fights with the correspondingly gratuitous eye-candy/collateral damage."
Charles D. Rosmus | 01/08/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Glad I bought it, I knew it was a kids movie when I bought it allways loved Gamera, only rated it 4 for on reason the plot was great the actors good, but it lacked the old sound of Gamera ie) flying and screaming voice other than that if thay had done that I would have gave it a 5 :)"
A cute little movie
Nicole Peterson | Moscow, Idaho United States | 10/16/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, first I have to get it out of the way... Ohmigod he's so CUTE! He's just this itty-bitty...and then he...With the egg...and the flying...and he squeaks...and the knife..and the fire... Okay - deep breath - recovered now. ASIDE from the absolute adorable-ness of Toto/Gamera, I quite enjoyed this movie. Overall, it was nicely put together and quite entertaining. As mentioned in other reviews, though, this movie really centers around the main character (can't remember his name, I'm ashamed to say) and his relationship with Toto/Gamera. Having lost his mother recently, the boy makes friends with a baby turtle. He names the turtle Toto, which is what his mother used to call him. Now a monster has appeared. The boy and his friends begin to suspect that Toto is a new Gamera... but the last Gamera sacrificed itself to save the city. Is Toto Gamera? If he fights the monster, will he die? If you're just looking for two monsters beating each other up, there's not a lot of that here. Toto doesn't even actually become Gamera until almost the end of the movie. That's just not what the movie's about. Some good and bad stuff: Good- The kid. Face it, movie kids always have the potential to be REALLY annoying (have you seen any of the old Gamera movies?), but that's not a problem here. The turtle. As mentioned before, it's just so darned cute. There are a couple parts that I felt were a bit *too* cute (the kitchen scene was a bit much), but it is a children's movie. Zebus. Not a very special monster. Just a big pinkish lizardy thing. I consider that to be a plus in this case. Given that the monster battle is a less important part of the story than the characters/relationships, I'm glad they didn't go nuts with a super-mega-ultra-powerful whatsis. Something like Legion (from the other Gamera series) would have been terribly out of place here. Bad- The red pearl. Not Gamera's red stone. I'm talking about the one that guy ( I suck at names) uses to make the bracelet for his daughter before her surgery. The scientists have some as well. WHY are they so tacky? I've seen better looking stuff at the dollar store. Maybe that's just me. Oh well. Weird- The whole "Kidnap Gamera and Take Him to Our Secret Lab So We Can Pump Him Full Of Red Liquid We Made From These (Tacky) Red Pearls" thing. They try to explain that the (tacky) red pearls are bits left over from the last Gamera and they're full of "Gamera Energy" or something like that, but it definitely feels like a speedbump in the movie. The Red Stone Relay. Very dramatic and inspirational. But the whole time, I kept thinking "Gamera is a friend to all children." Maybe these kids know that...have *they* seen the old movies? Wrap up: I do recommend this movie if you are a Gamera fan. Just remember, this is not a movie about two monsters. It's about a boy and his turtle."
Aaawww, wook at the cute wittle giant fiyo-bweathing turtle!
trashcanman | Hanford, CA United States | 08/02/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Gamera the Brave" is yet another reboot on yet another classic kaiju franchise. Is it good? Well yeah. Is it a massive disappointment considering the quality of the last three films? Very much so. Gamera was always a second-stringer at best. He was created to cash in on the success of Godzilla, but his films became embarrassingly kid-friendly much faster. Oddly enough, a lot of his films were actually more violent then Godzilla's as the big turtle would routinely bleed blue like a hemophiliac even when struck on the shell. But as an adult it's hard not to roll your eyes at a giant monster with such a ridiculously happy theme-song who regularly has to take on-the-fly combat advice from children to win his battles. Friend to all children, they say. Godzilla was never THAT lame. But then director Shusuke Kaneko (who would later have success with the Death Note films) got ahold of the giant turtle and it all changed. His 90's Gamera Trilogy not only easily bested the Godzilla films of the day, but set a new very high bar for the entire kaiju genre. For the first time, Gamera was legitimately cool. Apparently Kadokawa Pictures wasn't particularly impressed and decided to celebrate the Gamera's 40th birthday (and his rival Godzilla's retirement) by taking him back to his roots.
Like Transformers was a story about a boy and his car, "Gamera the Brave" is about a (younger) boy and his pet turtle. We are greeted with a totally sweet flashback featuring a very awesome-looking Gamera battling a flock of Gaos -his most recognizable foe- and losing. The kaiju self-destructs as the bat-like beasts attempt to eat him alive, killing them and saving the people of Japan. This is possibly an attempt to soften the fans' annoyance with the last film's cliffhanger finale, which showed Big Green flying into battle with a swarm of Gaos against impossible odds before ending right then and there. I appreciate the gesture, and indeed this scene is very like the trilogy. I wish the whole film was that good. Unfortunately, what follows is a supercute tale of a chibi turtle and the boy who found him as an egg and loved him. Soon he notices his new pet has a strange growth rate and can fly (apparently using pixie dust). After a ton of kiddie-flick cheese the turtle becomes very large and eventually disappears just in time for a REAL monster to show up. Zedus is his name and gobbling up humans like a bear chows down on grubs is his game. He looks a bit like a cross between between the American kaiju known as GINO (Godzilla In Name Only) and a mythical dragon. Very cool. No complaints there. Well, Zedus is about to chow down on the leads when guess who appears to save the day, lame new upbeat theme music and all.
Even when battling totally menacing gigantic monsters, this Gamera (named Toto by the kid) is cute as a button. I'll admit he has much more expressive features then any other kaiju I've seen and the guy's got spunk, but his "resolve face" makes him look like Bolt. Yes, the CG dog. Despite being extremely overmatched, Gamera uses his head and manages to fend the massive beast off before collapsing due to a neck wound delivered by Zedus's spear-like tongue. Then the movie gets dumb. Zedus eventually gets hungry again, and Gamera is forced to face him in the open city where he gets heat down for a very long time. Meanwhile, every kid in the city is apparently running towards the battle in what must be a weird attempt at mass suicide. And they are carrying some red glowy thing that somehow every kid in the city knows will make Gamera strong again and they all seem to somehow know his name is Toto, and they do this relay for life thing that is just retarded and then the little boy who raised Toto has his dad (worst parent ever) take him up to a partially-demolished building to have a heart-to-heart with the giant turtle and make a nonsuicide pact with him while Zedus stabs him in the side. Christ, is this really the best they could come up with for the return of a kaiju icon?
Stupid kiddie-flick nonsense aside, "Gamera the Brave" is pretty entertaining. I'm cutting it some slack on the rating because it is a children's film (although a violent one) and they are being true to the roots of the character. In most ways, this is a fitting tribute to Gamera's film legacy which, while cheesy as hell today, definitely made my childhood a happier one. But any way you look at it, it's a step waaaaay back from the excellent 90's trilogy. There's not enough fire-breathing, all the kids get on my nerves, Gamera looks like a giant pinwheel when he finally busts his legendary flying-saucer act out, and the final fight could have been better paced. But the movie overall is a good time due to a great-looking adversary and some solid kaiju action. This is better then the dreaded Rebirth of Mothra films, but I'm definitely ready for Godzilla to come back now."