Gamera: Guardian Of The Universe (Japan 1995)

Rating: ***
Cast: Shinobu Nakayama, Ayako Fujitani, cameo by Yukijiro Hotaru

The flying turtle is back to celebrate his thirtieth birthday in this spectacular retelling of the original, except this time he's fighting an entire flock of Gaos. Japanese kaigu movies have come a long way since the 60's, and this one brims over with awesome state of the art effects and a kicking soundtrack. The impossibly cute Shinobu Nakayama (Jet Li's girlfriend in "Fist Of Legend" (1994) ) is the main scientist babe who gets involved with the Gamera case, and Ayako Fujitani (Steven Seagal's daughter in her debut film) is the cute schoolgirl who has telepathic empathy with the big guy. Also, the wonderful character actor Yukijiro Hotaru (from the "Zeiram" (1991) series) shows up as a bumbling police inspector.

Unfortunately, the writing is rather weak, and I think I enjoyed watching the untranslated version more, where I didn't know what was going on and had to make up the story myself. The subtitled version illuminates the entire back story, which turns out to be pretty ridiculous and ultimately unnecessary. We are told that both Gamera and the Gaos are bioengineered creatures from the lost city of Atlantis, and that Gamera is mankind's last hope for salvation. There's also a heavy handed environmental theme which tends to spoil the fun. But all in all, a very enjoyable outing.