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Movie Review (Official)!!         SHADO CONTROL
Rating:  *** out of **** stars (3 stars out of 4 stars)
This review is the EXACT description of this film in its original form. Any subsequent releases such as "Gamera: The Brave" and their content are derivative works.

Gamera returns for his 40th Anniversary a year after Godzilla!!

Evening in Mie Prefecture (三重県). The year is 1973 and there is fire everywhere. People are running and a little boy stops to watch what is going on. A shocking scream of GYAOS is heard and everyone stops. If you are a true Gamera fan, you will know right away you are watching an updated version of "RETURN OF THE GIANT MONSTERS" (aka: "Gamera vs Gyaos") right before our eyes! This is the beginning of "GAMERA: LITTLE BRAVES", by far the best Gamera movie of all time since his return in 1995 as The Guardian of the Universe!

It's Avan Gamera vs Gyaos in Mie Prefecture (三重県) 1973 -- An updated version of "Return of the Giant Monsters"!!

An impressive opening scene continues as four (4) flying Gyaos are attacking something that we cannot see. Through the fire and trees the loudest footsteps are heard. AVAN GAMERA appears. Slow bangs in succession (Gamera's footsteps) continue with the swooping Gyaos fighting to the death. Gamera walks very slowly as the creature is so huge with its giant shell protecting its back. The four Gyaos creatures however are agile and fly around the giant turtle like bats in the night, ready to strike. Gamera strikes first as his heat furnace generates a powerful fireball and destroys one of the incoming Gyaos creatures blowing him up! The debris from the Gyaos falls straight down past Gamera and the remaining Gyaos realize this is it! They shoot their laser beams down cutting Gamera badly. Yes, Gamera's blood is blue/green. Gamera falls forward and the Gyaos swoop down biting the turtle everywhere. Gamera is dead and the Gyaos are victorious. But then, reminiscent of "War of the Monsters", Gamera is alive! The Gyaos creatures take off while, albeit slowly, Gamera gets back up to his 2 feet. Gamera's chest starts to glow red. As the Gyaos creatures come forward and attack, Gamera explodes, taking all the Gyaos creatures with it and most of the island they were fighting on off shore from the mainland.

Toto is born as just a loving pet turtle, that has a habit of becoming a butane lighter!!

It is now 2006, 33 years later. All that remains of the island are two mini islands and a huge "natural" water zone in the middle. Life has been normal in Nagoya. The boy has now grown up, owns a restaurant and has a son, Toru. Toru lost his mother a year back, so he only has his father as a parent. However, he has two good friends and a young girl as a next door neighbor. One day, Toru passes the area where the island used to be and he sees a flashing light on one of the remaining sections of what that island used to be. He decides to swim across to see what the light is and finds a turtle egg on top of a red shell. The egg hatches and Toru is the first living thing the animal sees. It's love at first site. Toru brings the turtle home as his new pet and it is so cute. Walking and bumping into things, falling down, requiring assistance, it's what a pet turtle does when experiencing life, just days old. Toru names the turtle Toto, in response to flashbacks of his mother using the name.

Toto is still a baby, but experiences rapid growth...it's really Gamera returning!!

The next morning, Toto, is twice its size and learns how to fly, scaring the girl across the path, but together with his friends, they are able to keep it a secret. Toto continues his rapid growth and we learn there is a man eating creature in the sea. Toru is given a flier about Avan Gamera but he is not convinced his "pet" is in fact Gamera. As Toto gets too large, Toru accepts the fact that "Gamera must go", but he will always be his pet. Later on Toru and his friends have a discussion until an air-raid siren is heard. He believes it is Toto causing the problem and they rush to see what is happening. Smoke and destruction has occurred and people are screaming. A rush of more people come running from the area and Toru's father grabs his son and his friends to try and get them out. Suddenly the top of a lighthouse comes crashing down in front of them and JIDAS appears! Jidas was formerly a salamander who bit the carcass of the first Gyaos creature Avan Gamera destroyed in 1973, and grew into this horrifying monster! In a very scary scene, Jidas violently eats many people in front of one of Toru's trapped friends and his father tries to save the kid when Jidas continues to munch. Blood is running from the mouth of Jidas (fortunately, no body parts) and the father saves the kid, but turns around and Jidas is coming right for them both, drooling red blood. BANG! Toto rams into Jidas and knocks him aside!

Jidas asking Toto to come out and play -- A new man eating monster originally a salamander (an amphibian)!!

Toto is a "baby" in comparison to Jidas, but holds his own, pissing off Jidas using a suspension bridge as protection. Jidas spears Toto with his spear-tongue, reminiscent of Barugon's in "War of the Monsters". Eventually Toto knocks Jidas off the bridge with a fire breath, but this also knocks him out.

Toto, growing up and ready to take on giant Jidas!! However, Toto is just a little turtle!!

The government with their scientists capture the unconscious Toto on the bridge and do experiments on the turtle in the convenient location of downtown Nagoya (smart move,....just bring a giant creature into the heart of a metropolitan city prefecture). At the same time, the girl, who is Toru's neighbor, has to go to the hospital for an unwanted medical procedure and as a gift is given the red shell where Toto's egg hatched. She is deeply touched and takes it with her.

Toto is captured so scientists can figure out why these monsters "keep on coming"!!

Jidas returns to Nagoya and people watch it walk on giant media screens throughout Nagoya which includes one great scene of an explosion caused by Jidas and the people reacting to it in shock. Jidas asks Toto to come out and play and buries him in the building. At the same time Toru and the girl find out in some sort of telekinesis way with Toto that the red shell is required for Toto's survival as it starts to glow red. Toto and Jidas continue to fight in Nagoya while Toru rushes to the hospital to get the red shell. Unfortunately, the girl was moved due to the fighting and when Toru arrives with his friends, his father is there, conveniently, who tries to convince his boy that Toto is not Toto at all, but Gamera and very dangerous. Toru's father has had enough experience with Avan Gamera and its battle with the Gyaos creatures, he's not about to lose his son on a "foolish expedition". Toru refuses to accept that and runs to Toto's aid, his father trying to stop him. At the same time, the father gives Toru's friends a flyer on the new location of the girl. In other words, the father gives the flier to the boys, which gives Toru enough time to "get away".

The red shell that Toto's egg rested on is a catalyst to release his energy

Jidas jumps on top of a building and Toto bites his tail, only to be whipped like a slingshot into the right tower of the Twin Towers at Nagoya Central Station, shades of 9/11 (....I really wonder if the Japanese filmakers knew what 9/11 was psychologically in order to play around with a scenario like that as if it were building blocks from TOYS R US...that automatically deletes a full star.). Toto is lodged in the building and cannot get out. Jidas climbs the left tower determined to finish off Toto. The girl with the red shell tries to "escape" the makeshift hospital, but is forced to stay by the medical personnel. A little girl, out of no where, takes the red shell, fully aware it has to get to Toto. She runs into the crowd going the opposite way as far as she can go and ends up being part of a relay race with other children to get the red shell to Toto. These are the "Little Braves". It ends up with Toru and his father who becomes convinced that Toto must get the shell. He helps his son climb the right tower to Toto. When they get there, Toru is alone with Toto and appologizes to the turtle about all the trouble he caused. Toto looks on. Jidas, jumps from the left tower to the top of the right tower, gets Toto from behind and pulls the turtle out, Toru throws the shell and Toto swallows it just in time, before falling all the way to the street level. The shell acts as a catalyst to his stored energy and Toto can fly! The girl from the hospital looks on and we see a far shot of Toto spinning and flying away from the buildings, then turning right around and heading for Jidas, still on top of the right tower. Hey Jidas, you got one coming.

Gamera (aka: Toto) has his full power, headed for the right tower!! Jidas (on top), you got one coming!!

An intense amount of emotional scenes went into the script of this film with brilliant acting and editing to make this a must see for monster movie fans, especially fans of Gamera. It was also produced in a way to be seen in a large screen theatre, as most movies are, naturally, but to feel the footsteps of these creatures is what theatres are made for. Avan Gamera and Toto do not roar like the traditional Gamera, instead the roars are animalistic and growling. You will hear the pain of the creature. The shock value was also well done, especially the scenes of a child traumatized watching people being eaten by Jidas (don't worry, we never see people actually getting munched) or the scene of reactions from residents watching destruction happen live on a giant monitor. But the best aspect of this film was the realism of the city itself, because when one walks out of the theatre if in the same city, the buildings are there for real as if one walks into the movie. Only the monsters are not real.

Even if a couple of convenient scenes exist to attach the story, they can be overlooked by the emotions of the characters. And of course, the story of a "kid and his pet" has been done over and over again, like ET, Tetsujin 28 and other films. Yet, it still works when done right, like this film. No doubt about it, Toto, oops, I mean, Gamera is still growing and therefore, I see a trilogy in the works. I recommend "GAMERA: LITTLE BRAVES 2006"

"Sayounara Gamera."

Send comments to the writer at shado3@verizon.net

Gamera, growing larger, has to be taken to a new place to be studied. He's a fire breather!!

Gamera, growing up!!

Original first Gamera: Little Braves on-line banner!!