There are discussion among fans of the Kaiju community on whether or not that ‘Gamer3: Revenge of Iris’ is the best Kaiju movie ever made. As we’ve already established for me personally, I’m a big fan Japanese monster movies dating back even before I knew how to walk and talk, with Gamera always reigning supreme. It is to the testament of the skill of director Shusuke Kaneko that we’re even having a discussion such as this because Gamera, despite my biased loved for the creature, has always been a second tier monster well behind the great Godzilla, Mothra and King Gidorah, but by the time ‘Gamera 3’ was released, especially taking into account the quality and success of the first two movies, Gamera, at least at that period of time, sat on top of the mountain. I’m getting misty just thinking about it. But back to the movie itself, yes ‘Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris’ is spectacular and yes I believe it does deserve to be in the discussions of the best Kaiju movie ever.
The worst possible news that anyone could ever hear in this universe would be "Gyaos has returned". This terrible news returns to us the worlds most adorable ornithologist in Dr. Mayumi Nagamine (Shinobu Nakayama) who sees proof positive for herself in some Peruvian jungle where a young Gyaos has eaten a couple of members of this village and gotten beaten to death for its trouble.
With the threat of Gyaos established, this film isn’t really about Gyaos, but about a young girl named Ayana (Aye Maeda) who lost her parents during the original Gyoas attack in the first film as her home was crushed by Gamera during the battle. Over the years her hatred of Gamera has grown and intensified to the point of the young girl becoming obsessive in gaining revenge against the Guardian of the Universe, but what can a twelve year old girl realistically do against a 200 foot fire breathing turtle monster?
Well that revenge would lie in the legend of Ryuseicho, an egg which lies in a cave guarded for centuries by the family of a boy named Moribe (Yuu Koyama) who has a bit of a crush on the sour, angry girl. Moribe unwisely disturbs the egg in this cave, which hatches this egg into weird looking squid / snail monster that Ayana names Iris after a pet cat that died with her parents at the hands Gamera. Ayana has now begin to raise this creature as a pet to exact her revenge, despite the pleas of Moribe that this is like the worst idea ever considering the legend of this monster and its destructive abilities.
Gamera meanwhile is steady in the business off killing Gyaos birds, but sometimes to make a good omelet you have to crack a few eggs and for probably the first time in a monster movie we truly see first hand the collateral damage that results from these battles as thousands upon thousands of people are wiped out via wayward fireball explosions, falling buildings, huge fiery plummeting chunks of Gyaos which explode like bombs when they hit the ground, not to mention the folks who just can’t get out of the way of Gamera’s big left foot.
By now Iris has grown into a full grown blood sucking winged creature and has merged with Ayana, absorbing her energy and her hatred. The Japanese Government has decided that Gamera must die considering he kills thousands of the faithful citizenry in his efforts to protect the earth. Gamera’s muse Asagi (Ayako Fujitani) has returned from her college studies to help Dr. Nagamine deal with the monster and the young girl who is dead set on destroying Gamera, which in turn will destroy every man, woman and child on earth while Gamera itself is locked into the battle of its life against a creature that has every single advantage over Gamera, including a young girl with a stone feeding it energy with its sole purpose being to end Gamera’s existence.
The reasons why this third Gamera film has piqued the interest of Kaiju movie watchers are numerous. The special effects in this episode have reached their zenith for the time period with the rough edges that showed up in the first two movies being almost completely absent. The combination of miniatures and CGI were practically seamless, this taking into consideration that as of this writing ‘Gamera 3’ is still a movie that is ten years old. There were three spectacular set pieces with the first one showing Gamera destroying a Gyaos, and large chunks of a downtown metropolitan area, with the director taking us to the ground level of this destruction and witnessing the human carnage first hand. The second set piece is a spectacular flight battle between Iris and Gamera above the clouds. The funny thing about this scene was the Defense Force jets were commanded to fire a warning shot at Iris. Why fire warning shots when all they wanted to do was kill it in the first place is beyond me but when Iris got all pissed off and started chasing these jets, ground command ordered the jets to ‘take evasive maneuvers’. I was just curious that if the pilots were not given these ‘orders’ would the jets have just sat there and allowed Iris to blow their stupid asses to hell? The final set piece featured the final battle between Iris and Gamera at a Kyoto train station which seals the deal on the greatness of this film with its classic lumbering monster clashes, merging with fancy CGI destruction effects, combined with live action characters with again it all coming together seamlessly.
With this third film Kaneko has completed his apparent efforts to wipe away all of the gloss, camp and fun of the first movie, which was less evident in the second movie, and has elected to go dark with this third film. Gamera is meaner looking and his classic screams are the same but have had an angry tinge added to them. The narrative is darker and stranger with the inclusion of a government psychic played by insanely hot Senri Yamazaki and her odd game designer companion Sakurai (Norito Yashima) who take the story to some places that I couldn’t begin to understand, but it is also more complex and more satisfying than before, while recognizing the previous stories already quite well done.
Is this the best monster movie ever? Well, maybe the best Kaiju movie, and this my Gamera bias coming out, but I might have to give the best monster movie I’ve ever seen to the Korean neo classic ‘The Host’. Still Kaneko has placed a fitting end, more or less considering the final scene in this film, to his Gamera trilogy and made a series of films that anyone loving these kinds of movies should own.