Daimajin Strikes Again (Japan 1966)

Rating: **
Alternate Title: Return Of Daimajin
Review Date: 5/11/13
Music: Akira Ifukube

Terrible! The final entry in the "Daimajin" series (also confusingly known as "Return Of Daimajin") is a painful step in the wrong direction. While it features some of the most breathtaking scenery in the entire series (which is saying quite a bit), it commits the unforgivable crime of being a children's movie. A group of loggers are kidnapped by an evil general and forced to work in Hell's Valley. Desperate to save their parents, four children decide to launch a rescue mission by crossing over Daimajin's forbidden mountain. The majority of the film focuses on the various hardships that the young boys endure while on their journey, and Daimajin eventually takes pity on them and unleashes his wrath on the nasty bad guys.

If not for the gorgeous scenery and masterful cinematography, I would have definitely given this a one-star rating. Unfortunately, the best looking stuff appears in the first half of the film, while the second half is completely dominated by fake (and extremely unconvincing) snow. The visual effects are the least impressive of the series, but it's worth pointing out that this is the only film where Daimajin uses his sword (and to good effect). The children are a constant irritant, and while the three older ones are barely tolerable, the youngest one is extremely annoying. This is made worse by the film's tendency to linger on his childish antics in an desperate attempt to make him seem cute and endearing. Despite the kid-centric approach, the plot remains grim and the ending is bittersweet at best. While the production values remain high, it's a shame to see such a strong series come to such a terrible close. Watch the first two films instead, and skip this one altogether.