There’s a reason that the first two films in the revived Gamera series were huge hits in their native country. Simply put, they really are fantastic action movies, some of the best ever seen in the genre. The streak would continue in the final film (at least to date) “Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris.” It’s just one notch away from absolute perfection.
During the battle between Gaos and Gamera back in 1995, Ayana Hirasaka (Ai Maeda) witnessed her parents get crushed inside a building set in Gamera’s path. Four years later, her hatred for the beast has grown. After discovering an egg inside a cave, Ayana raises the newly born creature and swears it will take revenge on the turtle. Little does she know that she has unleashed a nearly unstoppable creature, one that could only be destroyed by Gamera.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, can match the sheer intensity, brutality, and awe factor of the monster fight in the Shibuya section of Japan in “Gamera 3.” This spectacular sequence is simply off the charts for a kaiju film. It blends flawless live action with a small dose of CG, lots of miniature work, and of course suit-a-mation. It breaks all the rules, showing countless people meeting their fate as Gamera and Gaos struggle. It’s a single scene that’s better than an entire American blockbuster with triple the budget.
This is the type of sequence that firmly proves quality is better than quantity. Most of the film is spent with the human characters (much like “Gamera 2″) and in this case that’s entirely fine. Brining in multiple actors to reprise their roles links all the films together while building them all up so you actually care when the time comes. Two new stars power the film together. Ai Maeda plays the hate-filled girl who joins with the monster Iris, a wholly unconventional monster foe. Sporting numerous tentacles and oddly beautiful “wings,” Iris is an imposing figure. Maeda’s character is the final piece the monster needs to become fully functional.
That’s the one odd piece that keeps “Gamera 3″ from achieving absolute perfection. In the end, the movie goes way off the deep end into unexplored territory. It never really makes much sense. Granted, it does give the human characters some purpose in the final moments (which are also spectacular, taking place during a massive typhoon inside one of the most elaborate minature building ever constructed), but it all seems so out there, not to mention it takes away and slows down the simply superb monster brawl going on inside Kyoto Station. For all the work the crew put into making this movie as real as possible, it seems very odd to finish like this.
This is the first kaiju film since the original “Godzilla” that really makes a mark. It completely deserved a theatrical release and exposure to a wider audience in the US. It’s not one for kids (it’s flat out terrifying at times), a rare movie in this genre to hold that distinction. It proves there is plenty of life left in not only this series, but also the genre as a whole. This is a must see as is the entire trilogy. (**** out of *****)
ADV has done a terrible job in bringing these films over to the American audience. This is the best of the trilogy, even if that doesn’t say much. This transfer is a little cleaner; it just suffers from the same flaws as the other discs in this set. Black levels are all over the place, aliasing is prevalent, colors appear washed out, and the compression is really nasty in spots. “Gamera 3″ deserves so much more than this. (** out of *****)
Presented in both English and Japanese 5.1, movies don’t sound much better than this. Not only do the footsteps of the creatures shake the room, so does the soundtrack (which is outstanding by the way). Buildings pieces fly around in every speaker as they crumble to the ground while the explosions, well, they sound better than just about anything else in the film. The range in the LFE channel is simply amazing. Dubbing is again accurate, but it’s still dubbing. (*****)
Roughly the same as the other discs, the feature set is solid if a bit ridiculous. The interview with the director of effects Shinji Higuchi continues here, covering the various aspects of the film. Like almost everything on this disc, it’s all subtitled. Trailers and TV Spots follow next.
The press conference has been a standard for each movie, though this one is seriously lacking. None of the actors or production crew made an appearance. It’s simply some of the studio heads giving the press basic information, like when they can release certain items to the public.
“Behind the Scenes in Japan” once again disappoints. There’s no footage of the suit actors doing their job (except in finished clips), easily the most fascinating part of these movies. There are some nice shots of the human characters, even if that doesn’t make up for the lack of rubber-suited action. There’s no audio either, just a terrible Gamera song that seemingly has no origins.
“Promotional Events” is less than a minute long and offers little of value. “Opening Night in Japan” offers footage from both before and after the first screening to the public. Kaneko and his lead actresses all seemed very pleased with the final product as does the public walking out of theater.
ADV has again tried to be funny, choosing the wrong movie to do so on. “Outtakes” are nothing more than some of the dubbing crew making stupid jokes over certain scenes. It’s just as bas as “Lake Texarkana” on “Gamera 2.” The same can be said for the simply stupid “commentary” that runs over the entire film. Supposedly, it’s Gamera and Iris. Not only is it hard to understand, it’s horribly unfunny when you do figure out what they’re saying. (***)
The cult following these films now carry is spectacular and deserved. One fan even went as far as producing a homemade version of “Gamera 4″ since this one ended on a cliffhanger. No announcement has been made as to the continuation of this series, but with the Godzilla series supposedly down for at least 10 years, there is no better time than the present.