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GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE - 4 Slimes
Not Rated
Copyright 1995 Daiei Studios
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 29 June 2003

The Characters:  

  • Gamera - A huge turtle created to protect mankind from other monsters. Acts like a bull in a china shop at times.
  • Gaos - Huge flying beasts. Their mortal enemies are Gamera and the paparazzi. Blasted to smithereens (all of them).
  • Asagi - Steven Seagal's daughter! She looks like Sadako, if the malevolent girl had combed her hair and received eye correction surgery. Hmmm, maybe being linked to a spinning turtle is not healthy.
  • Dr. Nagamine - The leading expert on huge, man-eating birdlike monsters. It is a niche, but Japan needs her expertise.
  • Mr. Yonemori - Lonely naval officer, probably on account of a tendency to present melons to his prospective dates.
  • Mr. Kusanagi - Scientist (I think, he may just be an administrator) and Asagi's father.
  • Inspector Oosake - Policeman who needs to reduce his stress level.
  • Commissioner Saito - Stupid government official. He has greasy hair and wears birth control glasses.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

"Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla" (1993) had truly impressed me as a giant monster movie and there are some fantastic scenes in "Godzilla vs. Mothra" (1992). Meanwhile, the Gamera movies were always silly stories that lent themselves to ridicule. So, it was a surprising experience the first time I watched this movie. The tape ended and I thought to myself, "That might be the best giant monster movie ever!" I knew that the folks at Daiei had thrown down a challenge, one that took many years for Toho to satisfactorily answer.

The story begins with a mystery, as a plutonium transport ship runs aground on a strange atoll. Even more unfathomable is that the misplaced rock outcropping (they are in water over 3000 meters deep) suddenly moves away. The ship's crew is relieved to find that the collision did not cause a radiation leak (pucker factor was high), but Yonemori becomes obsessed with learning more about the wandering atoll. Elsewhere, a research team disappears on Himegami Island. The scientists were investigating reports of a giant bird and, when we see two fleeing island residents, it is obvious they are eaten by something that can fly.

Part of the movie's success is the mystery built up at the beginning. It really works if you show it to younger giant monster fans, without letting them see the box.

Dr. Nagamine's help is solicited by Oosake. There is no trace of anyone left aboard Himegami Island and most of the structures have sustained severe damage. She is almost hostile in her denial that a bird could have caused the destruction. Until, that is, the female egghead sees a giant pile of droppings. The group goes for a hike to reconnoiter the island and spots a flying monster. Oosake wants to flee, but Nagamine forces him to pursue the "giant bird" in a helicopter. Listen to them telling the air traffic controller that the one contact is a huge bird! And people wonder why controllers have nervous breakdowns. Then two more airborne terrors are spotted.

Some distance away, Mr. Kusanagi's team is searching for the floating atoll (Yonemori too, he begged his way along). You might imagine that tracking a slow moving island would be boring and I agree. The film is kind enough to gloss over most of the dreck and take us directly to its discovery. Yonemori and the other searchers unearth a obelisk on the small mound of rocks. The most interesting find is that the atoll is covered with strange metal objects. The items look like either a comma, half of a Ying&Yang symbol, or a human embryo at a very early point in the first trimester. Anyway, investigation stops when the obelisk crumbles and the fickle island speeds away. During the evacuation, the slumming navy officer falls into the water. He watches in awe, because he can see that the mound of rock covers the body of a huge creature.

Despite Nagamine's objections, Commissioner Saito insists that the flying monsters must be taken alive. A trap is set in the huge baseball stadium, complete with a pile of beef and soldiers armed with tranquilizer guns. The capture operation goes fairly well and two of the "birds" are sedated, but the third escapes before the dome can be sealed. The fleeing Gaos (oops, you now know the "birds" are called Gaos) runs smack into Gamera. The huge turtle erupts from the harbor and swats the much smaller creature out of the air. Unfortunately, it crashes into an oil refinery; an explosion results. Nothing compared to the destruction caused as Gamera marches through the city, intent only on obliterating the other two Gaos. The trapped monsters wake up just in time to use their sonic beams and escape. No Gaos al'Orange for Gamera. The sad turtle turns into a spinning disk before flying away. I know it sounds silly. It is better than later on, when he flies straight up like some sort of ludicrous model rocket.

Yonemori spends a great deal of time with Mr. Kusanagi and eventually gives one of the weird metal commas to Asagi. The artifact creates a bond between the owner and Gamera. Perhaps passing knowledge in addition to life force. Additionally, Asagi's person reflects serious harm done to Gamera, as later evidenced by her bandaged hand. Back on Himegami Island, Nagamine's further searching reveals a cave full of Gaos eggs. The eggs had hibernated for 10,000 years (egad, and I thought 100 year old eggs were bad) before hatching, then the young fell to eating each other to survive; only three lived through the cannibalism.

The maddening problem with the military is that they still want to capture Gaos. Conversely, the huge turtle is marked for destruction. All of this flies in the face of reason, because the Gaos continue eating people. Gamera goes out of his way to kill the winged horrors, which are growing larger, and he also develops better situational awareness (not walking on the fleeing populace).

The commissioner has a few lines that make me burst out laughing every time. A memorable rant is during the continuing argument in reference to capturing the Gaos. "A Tyrannosaurus Rex is also a carnivore. If one showed up in Tokyo and started eating people, they would still want us to take it alive." (He says something to that effect.) Hahaha! I could never be a federal official in Japan; they have to worry about some crazy stuff. Although, having ulcers named after Godzilla, Gamera, Gappa, a T-Rex, and Gaos might be unique.

Gamera is ambushed by surface-to-air missiles and tanks near Mount Fuji. Seriously wounded, the monster is in danger of being killed when Gaos arrives to finish him off. Fortunately, Asagi had found an insane taxi driver. She wills Gamera to run away and the injured defender wisely complies. He submerges in the sea to recover.

Without the ferocious turtle to keep it in check, the Gaos has the run of Japan. It settles down in Tokyo, nesting atop the ruined Tokyo Tower (accidentally destroyed by SAMs while engaging the monster) and lays a clutch of eggs. Gamera arrives just in time to blast the nest. A good old drag down, knock out kaiju fight ensues as the two behemoths let fly with plasma, rays, tooth, and claw. The fate of the world rests on the outcome.

Computer generated special effects are used effectively in this movie. Gamera's balls of plasma, the Gaos' sonic beam, and streaking missiles are all realized with CGI. The human portions of the story are not boring; nor are they colorful as those found in "Godzilla vs. Monster Zero." I really appreciated the care that went into constructing the suits too. Perhaps my only complaint is the hokey "resurrection by love and fire" scene near the end. Otherwise, truly a superior giant monster movie.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Mariners use blue M&Ms when charting a course.
  • Defending the city from a rampaging giant turtle requires government filing of a declaration of war (the short form is acceptable in cases of extreme urgency).
  • Kaiju are detrimental to the affordability of seafood.
  • Japan needs to improve the targeting system on its main battle tank.
  • Giant monsters think that passenger trains are like sardine cans.
  • Turtles are closely related to gophers.
  • During reentry, you do not want to be the one on bottom.
  • The legendary phoenix was not a bird; it was a turtle.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 2 mins - Oops, something went wrong.
  • 12 mins - Nagamine really needs some longer gloves, like up to her elbows.
  • 17 mins - Imagine how big the peach was!
  • 30 mins - The Gaos is going to have one heck of a hangover.
  • 52 mins - A Kenny is born.
  • 69 mins - Sony Walkman: you will die before it does.
  • 80 mins - Yay! Omelets for everybody!
  • 82 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST AN APARTMENT BUILDING!
  • 87 mins - Maybe if you all start clapping your hands together...

Quotes: 

  • News Anchor: "With the monster making landfall at Hakata bay, the government is urging the residents of the central and west wards to evacuate. If you live within these areas, designated shelters will be assigned shortly."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note gameragotu1.wav Saito: "A giant monster?"
Yonemori: "It's crazy, I know, but it is coming right at us!"
Nagamine: "Just how big is this thing?"
Yonemori: "It's over sixty meters long."
Saito: "We've already got three fifteen-meter monsters!"
Green Music Note gameragotu2.wav Gamera roaring.
Green Music Note gameragotu3.wav Yonemori: "Why did those idiots all take off without telling us?"
Mr. Kusanagi: "'Cause they're the bird specialists. We're just the giant turtle patrol."
Green Music Note gameragotu4.wav Mr. Kusanagi: "Why must you share Gamera's suffering? Is it because of this damn thing?"
Asagi: "Gamera needs my strength to keep fighting for all of us! He needs me!"

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipgameragotu1.mpg - 3.8m
A Gaos was about to eat Nagamine and Yonemori (along with a useless kid), but Gamera blasts the creature out of the sky. Two down and one to go.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 [2] 3
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
Reply #9. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by George
This is the first Gamera movie since Gamera-Super Monster,in some ways it was good,Gamera fighting Gaos again,and the specialeffects were good too,but unfortunatly this would eventually lead to a whole new different looking Gamera that I'm not pleased with,taking the Gamera we all knew and loved in the original series and trying to turn him into something he's not,is just--yea that's what the late Noriaki Yuasa was talking about too,Irs I'm not very found of,Gamera is only in it for like what a few sceens,and in the dark,this was a good Gamera movie of the first 3,it led to Legion and then,well,however,there are two other Gamera movies we've heard about but not seen yet,Gamera 4-The Truth(made by Gamera fans in Japan)and Gamera-The Littlest Braves,one can only hope the good people of Japan will remember and restore Gamera to the way he was from Gammera to Gamera-Super Monster,and have him breath fire again,Galiela is the only monster who shoots fireballs,maybe a few others I don't know about,but not Gamera,which only goes to prove,that all change is not a good thing,maybe I could come up with new ideas and Gamera movies.
Re: Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
Reply #10. Posted on January 07, 2007, 04:55:16 AM by Listen2Reason
By the way...I haven't seen the movie, but this caught my eye:

Quote
The most interesting find is that the atoll is covered with strange metal objects. The items look like either a comma, half of a Ying&Yang symbol, or a human embryo at a very early point in the first trimester.


These objects are almost certainly Magatama. They're sacred beads from ancient Japan. Nobody really knows their true purpose, except as jewelry...so they occasionally show up in Japanese movies (and anime, for example Blue Seed) as "objects of power".
Re: Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
Reply #11. Posted on January 01, 2008, 11:28:29 PM by Tsukasa Macleod
Okay, whoever complimented "Godzilla vs Mothera and King Ghidorah." F*** you that was terrible. Anyway, Gamera is bigger, badder, stronger, and well better in every way to godzilla. Godzilla's red spiral ray cannot compare to Gamera's mana cannon from "Gamera vs Legion", and no Godzilla movie can ever compare to this amazing masterpiece, and it's still not as good as parts 2 and 3. GAMERA KICKS ASS!
Re: Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
Reply #12. Posted on January 01, 2008, 11:30:29 PM by Tsukasa Macleod
BTW the medallions are called Magatama. They already exist in old japanese religion
Re: Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
Reply #13. Posted on January 04, 2008, 12:16:36 PM by Flangepart
Okay, whoever complimented "Godzilla vs Mothera and King Ghidorah." F*** you that was terrible. Anyway, Gamera is bigger, badder, stronger, and well better in every way to godzilla. Godzilla's red spiral ray cannot compare to Gamera's mana cannon from "Gamera vs Legion", and no Godzilla movie can ever compare to this amazing masterpiece, and it's still not as good as parts 2 and 3. GAMERA KICKS ASS!
Yo, chill out, Sparky. I dig both wee beasties. Remember, disagree without being disagreeable...
Love the 90s reboot of Gamera. Even the 'saucer effect' looks way cool!
And the lady playing the scientest/hero...she is heartbreakingly beautiful...Yes, I'm in love, why do you ask?
Re: Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
Reply #14. Posted on December 13, 2008, 05:15:13 PM by Craig D.
I can't sympathize at all with the people who say that Gamera 2 and Gamera 3 are better than this movie. Gamera 2 is an insufferable bore and Gamera 3, while much better than Gamera 2, isn't quite as good as Guardian of the Universe. I also can't relate with the legion of giant monster movie fans who insist that Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (from Shusuke Kaneko, the same director of Guardian of the Universe, Gamera 2, and Gamera 3) is the best Godzilla movie since the 1954 original. It's not even the best Godzilla movie of the Millenium (1999-2004) series. (If it wasn't for Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, it would be the worst.) Kaneko knows action, but he has a major problem with cramming way too much boring human s**t into his movies. Guardian of the Universe manages to overcome that flaw, though. It's one of the handful of movies that I would recommend to someone with little or no interest in giant monster movies. (The others would be Godzilla 1954 and Godzilla: Final Wars.)
Re: Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
Reply #15. Posted on February 07, 2009, 10:01:45 AM by gamerathebrave3
Hey there--love the site and reviews! I just wanted to comment on this one because it was released in theaters the same month I moved to Japan. A bit over a year later I was watching it on TV with my fiance (now my wife). That baseball stadium used to try to trap the monsters was in Fukuoka, very close to her apartment, and in the fight after, Gamera and the birdie-head things were stomping all over our neighborhood! We were cheering them on and hoping to see our apartment building get stomped--unfortunately, it didn't happen, but it was still pretty cool seeing buildings that we could see out the window getting destroyed by giant monsters on-screen. Just a teeny bit spooky, as well.
Smile Question Twirling Wink Thumbup
Re: Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
Reply #16. Posted on March 01, 2009, 12:23:27 AM by FLU-BIRD
Nothing like a giant fanged turtle with a attatude to protect earth now if they had decided to team him up with GODZILLA,RODAN and MOTHERA just think of the super team they would make
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