Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
It begins now my friends.  Today is the day, December 1st, in the year of our Lord of 2013, that I watch and review every Kaiju monster movie ever made.  Not just Zilla and Mothra and them, but Yongary and that horrible Monster X.  Every last one.  And if I'm going to start off this glorious journey, I must start it off with my favorite monster as a child, that being Gamera, the flying turtle.  After watching 'Gamera the Giant Monster', Gamera's inaugural 1965 flight, I was struggling a little to remind myself why I loved Gamera so much more than Godzilla. 

A thin piece of thread is flying four ships through the Arctic Circle while hardworking Dr. Hikada (Eiji Funakoshi), his assistant Kyoke (Harumi Kiratchi) and erstwhile photographer Aoyagi (Junchiro Yamashiko) talk to some Eskimos.  Not quite sure about the research the doctor is doing with the Eskimos, but it's really neither here nor there.  What is important is that the U.S. Air Force is none too fond of unknown planes flying over stuff, and blows these planes out of the sky.  Unfortunately one of these planes had nukes on it and the nuke detonated.  Fortunately, Dr. Hikada told his people that they were far enough away from the fallout zone of these nukes, though it looks to me they were like 300 yards away.  Lamest nukes ever.

But due to these lame nukes, the ice cracks and a giant, sabertoothed fanged turtle emerges.  My main man Gamera.  And he's pissed off.  Gamera will not be the defender of the Earth and the friend of children in this movie.  No sir.  Gamera is kind of a dick.  First thing he does is smash the ship that brought the Doctor and his crew to the Arctic Circle, then he breathes fire on the few that got off the ship, completely lighting them up.  See what I mean?  That was uncalled for. 

We can't forget the little kid Toshio (Yoshiro Uchida) who loves him some turtles.  I mean really loves him some turtles in way that's completely unhealthy and totally annoying.  In fact if it wasn't for Toshio's hot sister Nobuyo (Michiko Sugata), he'd serve us no purpose in this film.
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Gamera soon disappears, and Dr. Hikada figures he just died to overexposure to radiation and sunk to the bottom of the ocean.  While we loved Dr. Hikada's distinguished graying temples and all which him look super smart, for an expert, he was pretty much wrong about everything in regards to the turtle.   So bullets and fire don't hurt Gamera.  In fact he loves that stuff.  The Doc figures maybe if they could freeze him.  Turns out the army just happened to be working on a Freeze Bomb!  What?  So they freeze Gamera to slow him down, but there's a problem with the Freeze Bomb though.  Apparently, whatever it freezes apparently thaws out eventually.  Who could've forecast that improbability?  The good thing though is that it got Gamera on his back and turtles on their backs eventually just die of hunger.  Unless they can FREAKING FLY!!! The doc is wrong again. 

Then for some reason that I can't quite figure out, Gamera descends on Tokyo and wrecks it.  Kills millions.  Those he couldn't crush in buildings, he fries to death with his heat breath.  See what I'm saying about Gamera?  Who could love that?  And in the background Toshio is telling everybody that 'Gamera isn't bad'.  Uh… Toshio?  Gamera is simply awful.  Just awful. 

Now we are stuck.  Gamera is invincible, he's fairly brainless, and he's an asshole.  I mean it would be one thing if he was eating humans, say like the monster Gyaos will be doing in future movies, but Gamera is murdering because apparently murdering feels good.  Good thing we have Plan Z to fall back on!  What's plan Z?  Think of awesome then imagine the opposite of it.  And be thankful that Gamera is really dumb. 

The good thing about my viewing of 'Gamera the Giant Monster' is that I got to watch the Original Japanese version, no dubbing, no inserted scenes.  That's Outstanding.  We don't want to put too much pressure on a movie about a giant flying, fire breathing, bi-pedal turtle, and we appreciate Daiei Studios attempting to break Toho studio's monopoly on giant monsters, which I think they eventually did, but Gamera's initial flight was a rough one.

Let's bypass the simple fact that director Noriaki Yuasa's film is meandering, nonsensical even for a giant monster movie, and sometimes dead dog slow.  We will also ignore that fact Gamera is wildly inconsistent, like doing stuff such as catching a falling child and laying it down, then the next moment setting people on fire for the crime of avoiding being crushed by tons of debris.  We will also attempt to ignore, that while the Japanese actors seemed just fine, the American actors were dudes who were on a tourist excursion or something, and then were asked if they wanted to be in a movie.  I know I would've said hell yes.  It is more difficult to ignore that the alleged 'cute kid' in this movie was anything but, and that if Gamera wanted to impale him on one of his saberteeth, we wouldn't have been mad at him.

We're going to ignore all of that, because the main issue from where we were sitting is that my main man Gamera, no matter how many buildings he knocks over or poor Tokyo-ites he sets on fire… he just ain't that scary.  Giant turtles are not oppressive.  Kind of like a Giant Moth isn't either.  The goofiness that is Gamera works so much better as a friend than a foe, and I'm assuming Daiei figured that out rather quickly and sent Gamera down the path he belongs, that as our friend protecting our planet and not setting Japanese citizens on fire for no good reason.  He's still my favorite, and I doubt there's much that can change that, but this was still a rough ride.
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