Gamera (1995-1999: Complete Collection)

January 28, 2012 10 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

We all know Godzilla is the king of kaiju, but I have always loved the films of Gamera, the giant turtle creature. The movies were the usual genre stuff, but Gamera just seemed cooler than most of the Godzilla knockoffs. A deluxe Japanese collection of the most recent Gamera films was made available, but the price was around two hundred dollars and sadly, the wealth of supplements were not subtitled. But now ADV Films has issued their own set, which started off rough, but has leveled out into a very nice collection. A few bad decisions were present on Guardian of the Universe, but the last two volumes were terrific all around editions. As of this review, there is no complete collection release available, but I chose to review the films as a series. After all, if you’re interested in one of these movies, more than likely, you want the data on all three releases. ADV Films has issued some copies of Guardian of the Universe with a special box that can house all three volumes, but you still have to buy the other two discs as single editions. Even so, it is cool to have a neat box to hold all the films and on the whole, ADV Films has done some terrific work here. The Japanese import set has improved audio & video, but the extras are not subtitled and of course, the price involved is astronomical. So for fans of Gamera or kaiju cinema in general, ADV Films’ releases of Gamera are well recommended. I have included a brief synopsis for each film below, but be warned, some light spoilers could be within.

1. Guardian of the Universe- Gamera is back and as always, he has raised the ires of the military forces by no fault of his own. But the truth will soon be known, since Gyaos, massive prehistoric beasts are soon to arrive. The creatures were discovered when word of a new bird species was found, but the Gyaos turned out to be monsters. The beasts devoured all the other species on the island, because of their fierce, carnivorous ways. The government decides to capture a few of the creatures, house them inside of a stadium, and see what can be learned about them, but of course, the plan goes out of control. So when the beasts escape, it is up to Gamera to save Japan, but will his powers be enough this time?

2. Attack of Legion- An unexplained space object reigns down on Japan, but the government claims it is nothing to be concerned about. Just an unusual meteor storm, as if any event of that kind is just business as usual. The main crash site is soon taped off and left for scientists to explore, to see what the meteor shower has brought. As it happens, they are able to find the point of impact, but whatever made the massive imprint is nowhere to be seen. Soon enough, strange events begin to unfold across the land, such as gas leaks, green glows, and even an attack on a beer plant, which wasted gallons of the good stuff. A group of insect creatures is behind the events, but even when a giant plant sprouts through a building, the government is unable to blow up the uninvited guests, as a blast would level everything in sight. Gamera arrives and dispatches the bugs, but is wounded in the battle and looks very injured. When a swarm of new enemies surface, can an already wounded Gamera win yet another conflict?

3. Revenge of Iris- Off the Southern coast of Japan, reports of small Gyaos have been made and a diver claims to have found dozens of Gamera skeletons. At the same time, a schoolgirl has found a strange egg deep within a cave, a place that according to legend, is the lair of a powerful demonic creature. But she believes this egg holds her protector, a being that will avenge the death of her parents, who were killed during Gamera’s epic battle four years earlier. When two Gyaos appear in an urban area, Gamera arrives and tries to dispatch them, but ends up causing more damage than good in his efforts. As such, the people of Japan have turned against Gamera, despite the years of protection and service provided. When the egg hatches and a beast named Iris emerges, it begins a hunt for Gamera that includes total destruction on all fronts. When the two creatures collide, who will win and who will Japan side with?

Video: How does it look?

Guardian of the Universe is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions, while Attack of Legion and Revenge of Iris are both presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The Japanese import releases looked pristine and refined, so I hoped for the same treatment with this collection. Guardian of the Universe starts off the series poorly, with the lack of anamorphic enhancement. The visuals still look more than solid, but when compared to the Japanese edition, this presentation seems softer and less impressive. The print looks superb though and all in all, this is a more than watchable treatment. The other two films look much better however, since ADV included lush anamorphic widescreen editions. The prints are very, very clean and the visuals have a crisper, more textured appearance. The material still displays some softness, but fans will be quite pleased here.

Audio: How does it sound?

Guardian of the Universe is given a 2.0 stereo soundtrack, while the other two films have Dolby Digital 5.1 surround options. In all cases, you can choose between the original Japanese soundtrack or an English dub option, but of course, most fans will stick with the original, as the filmmakers intended. Guardian’s audio is on the lackluster side, but still provides a decent level of performance. Even so, you miss a lot of atmosphere and presence, as evidenced in the soundtracks of the later two pictures. The 5.1 options here allows the battles to have more punch, though more reserved scenes also have more depth. The music is vivid and well handled, while dialogue is clean and clear throughout. In all three films, you can enable optional English subtitles, in case you don’t speak Japanese.

Supplements: What are the extras?

A three part interview with the series’ director of special effects is a highlight of this set, as it means ninety minutes of excellent insight. These movies are all about the visual effects, so to get some insight into the creation of the effects is a real treat. ADV Films has subtitled the interview, as well as the other supplements found on the disc, which is great news, since the Japanese set offers no subtitles on the extras. On Guardian, you’ll also find a brief reel of promotional footage, a couple minutes from the film’s premiere, footage from the announcement of the production, a behind the scenes montage, six television spots, and three of the film’s theatrical trailers. On the Legion disc, you can check out more press conference footage, three minutes of location shots, video on three promotional events, coverage of the film’s opening night, ten television spots, six of the film’s theatrical trailers, and two “fun with dubbing” pieces, which are fun to watch. And finally, on the Iris DVD, the extras include even more press conference stuff, another brief behind the scenes montage, more promotional event coverage, outtakes with alternate English voice work, and a wealth of television spots and trailers. An audio commentary track is also found here, but it is rather odd and features Gamera and Iris behind the microphones.

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