Director: Noriaki Yuasa
Writer: Niisan Takahashi
Cast: Eiji Funakoshi, Junichiro Yamashita, Michiko Sugata, Harumi Kiritachi, Yoshiro Kitahara, Bokuzen Hidari, Jun Hamamura, Jutaro Hojo, Yoshio Yoshida, Kenji Oyama, Jun Osanai, Koji Fujiyama, Ichigen Ohashi, Munehiko Takada, Kenichi Tani, Tsutomu Nakata, Yuji Moriya, Osamu Maruyama, Yoshiro Uchida, Toshio Maki, Kazuo Sumida, Rin Sugimori, Fumiko Murata, Tetsuo Takeuchi, Kyosuke Shiho, Ken Nakahara, Kazuo Mori, Shinji Sayama, Hiroya Kita, Kenji Ohba, Yasuo Araki, Daigo Inoue, Shin Minatsu, Akira Shimizu, Shinichi Matsuyama, Ikuji Oka, Ryuji Fujii, Keiichiro Yamane, Wakayo Matsumura, Chizuru Ko, Ryoko Oki, Takehiko Goto, Toichiro Kagawa, Ichiro Ise, Shinji Sahara, Hajime Munechika, M. Apanay, Richardson, Strahan, Ronson, Brown, and Hartman
Composer: Tadashi Yamauchi
Release Date: 11/27/1965
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
When a mysterious aircraft carrying an atomic bomb crashes in an icy region, the monster Gamera—a flying, fire-breathing turtle of enormous size—is awakened from his prehistoric slumber. Only an international team of scientists, accompanied by a young boy named Toshio Sakurai (Yoshiro Uchida), can prevent Gamera from destroying the city of Tokyo.
Lacking the dark, haunting qualities of Gojira and the riveting special effects of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Daikaiju Gamera (released as Gammera the Invincible in the United States) is a mediocre creature feature. Japanese monster buffs may nevertheless enjoy this film for its campy sequences, B-grade production values, and unintentionally amusing plot twists.
This offering deserves praise for its compelling destruction footage, which will appeal to fans of the kaiju eiga genre. (Of course, Daikaiju Gamera’s model airplanes, buildings, and automobiles often pale in comparison to those of the original Godzilla series.)
Allowing viewers to sympathize with the title monster through the eyes of a child, the character of Toshio adds a poignant aspect to Gamera’s story. (There are times, however, when Toshio’s connection to Gamera borders on the absurd, undermining the serious tone of this film.)
Failing to emphasize Gamera as an existential threat to the people of Tokyo, this production may evoke criticism for its unconvincing character reactions and utter absence of narrative tension—much in contrast to Gojira, which, by generating an intense and realistic atmosphere, reinforces the dangerous and powerful nature of Godzilla.
A sci-fi/horror movie produced during the Atomic Age, Daikaiju Gamera contains a laudable message on the effects of a potential nuclear disaster. (The political undertones of this film are further explored in the Americanized version, with both Soviet and U.S. diplomats blaming one another for Gamera’s emergence.)
Providing a child-friendly spin on the premise for Gojira, Daikaiju Gamera contains enough good, clean monster action for the whole family to appreciate. Viewers of a strictly serious inclination, in contrast, may wish to avoid this film for its weak science fiction, laughable twist ending, and lack of suspense around Gamera himself.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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