Gamera The Brave (2006)
By: Devon B. on March 31, 2009  | 
DVD
Universe Laser (Hong Kong). Region 3, NTSC. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). Japanese DD 5.1, Chinese DD 5.1. English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese Subtitles. 96 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Ryuta Tazaki
Starring: Kaho Snappeas, Ryo Tomioka, Kanji Tsuda
Screenplay: Yukari Tatsui
Country: Japan
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
I think the Gamera films produced during the Heisei Era (AKA the trilogy from the 90s) are the best kaiju eigas ever. Unfortunately for a long time it was only the first film in the trilogy that was available for English speakers, so I spent years wanting to see the other two. Before I saw them, I'd been told that the third instalment was the best, with Gamera becoming downright vicious. I was a bit disappointed when I finally say the movie, as Gamera isn't so much vicious as unconcerned about the destruction he's causing while fighting other monsters. The third film was subtitled Incomplete Struggle, probably because there's not actually an ending. Fans worldwide hoped for a follow up, but instead after a long wait we got a series reboot. Not only that, but the newest Gamera movie was to be a children's film. I wouldn't say that any of the previous Gamera movies were adults only, but in Gamera the Brave, there's some soppiness that's hard to overlook, even with a giant turtle flying 'round.

So forget the last three Gamera movies, we're starting again in…the 70s. In the 70s, Gamera's fighting some Gyaos, but when he starts to lose he destroys himself in order to take them down with him. The only death I've seen that was sadder than Gamera's was Yoda's. Anyway, we then cut to 2006, or "present day," and some kid who's just lost his mother. He finds an egg that hatches a baby turtle, but this turtle is unusual because it can fly, breathe fire, whimper like a dog, grow at accelerated intervals, and doesn't seem to ever need to eat. The boy and his friends form a kind of Gamera fan club, but they actually call the turtle Toto because…fuck, I dunno, they wanted to bless the rains in Africa? Meanwhile, a large, spiky, frilled necked lizard dubbed Zedus has been attacking ships. When Zedus finally makes it to land, only Gamera can stop it, but Gamera is still just a baby so doesn't stand much chance.

When it was said Gamera the Brave was for children, I think what was meant is it's geared towards even younger children than before. The turtle has "funny" antics and adventures that are designed to appeal to fans of stuff like Mouse Hunt. The reason for Gamera to reconnect with the children so strongly is quiet clear: Gamera isn't just the guardian this time around, he's a symbol for Earth or nature, and it's up to the children to help him even when the adults can't see what needs to be done. While Gamera the Brave does come very close to Godzilla style peachiness, I suppose it's an important message, and maybe someday some kid will think twice before eating whale because they love Gamera.

As for Gamera himself, I'm not sure I like the idea of Gamera as a species rather than an individual. Gamera was THE guardian, how can he just be replaced? By this "cute" version of him? When Gamera gets bigger he's still a baby, so looks a bit like a pokémon. The CG work used sometimes for the baby turtle was annoying, but I guess he's overall better than Minilla. It takes a long time for us to get monster on monster action after the first scene, but at least Zedus is a cool opponent. Some of the monster FX are dodgy, but c'mon, what do you expect?

I'm glad to see a new Gamera film, but it's a step down from the last trilogy, and hopefully Gamera will have grown up next time we see him.
Video
The film is presented at 2.35:1. It's a new film, so looks sharp and clean for the most part. There is a little bit of haze at times, but other than that the film is well presented, and even that may have been the source material.
Audio
Audio is available in either Japanese or Chinese 5.1 mixes with optional English, traditional, or simplified Chinese subtitles. Buildings crash, turtles whip by with their rocket feet, and fire shoots, but as Gamera's a little turtle for a lot of the movie, it's actually quite quiet aside from the few battles. The subtitles are mostly error free. The Cantonese dub sounded fine to me, but I'll always watch a film in its original language where possible.
Extra Features
The trailer and an image gallery.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
In the end some Gamera is better than no Gamera, so I do recommend seeing Gamera the Brave. I hope the next movie is more impressive, but this was Gamera's first film under his new company, so hopefully they've ironed out the kinks this time around. This DVD's a perfectly adequate presentation of the film, but there is also a 2 disc Tokyo Shock release available.

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