Monday, 23 March 2015
Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (1996)
If you're at all a kaiju fan, go see Gamera 2: Attack of Legion. You don't need to read any more of this review.
Still with me? Well if you are, it either means you don't want to take my word for it, or you're not a kaiju fan. Not really sure how to overcome the latter issue, but for the former I will point out that this was the first film of this genre to win the Japanese equivalent of the Nebula Award. So it's not just me that thinks it is good.
A meteor shower cascades down on the Earth. Some of them land in Japan (you are shocked, I am sure) and show worrying signs of having been able to slow down and change course. There's no sign of any debris, either. Various groups swing into action to investigate, and in a welcome change from how such things normally go in media, generally cooperate with each other.
Subsequent troubles in the subway lead to the discovery of hundreds of human-sized, bug-like creatures. They attack some humans but leave others, and infest an entire building, from which begins to grow a strange plant. The humans suspect the creatures have a life-cyle something like leafcutter ants (which have a mutual dependence with certain types of fungi). They decide it is vital to stop the plant from flowering, but it is producing vast amounts of oxygen, which makes trying to blow it up highly dangerous.
So it's just as well that Gamera turns up.
Of course, while an 80 foot turtle monster is a good solution to a building-sized plant, it's not so effective against a swarm of human-sized beasts. Which is useful for the script since it means he can't fix the whole problem right away, and the movie doesn't have to end. Plus it gives the humans something to do later, which is also a plus.
Unsurprisingly, the next time Gamera shows up, the alien creatures will have their own giant-sized monster defender. It's a pretty darn sweet design, actually, reflecting the ambition of the movie as a whole: I've seen precious few kaiju films which integrate so many scenes of human characters amid the "giant" action. Good stuff.
The film's not perfect, it's true: the final resolution of Gamera's battle with Legion feels a bit out of left field. But it's a fun romp with great kaiju battle scenes leading up to that, so like I said: if you're at all a fan of the genre, you should check it out.