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Gamera Review

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When three giant beasties begin attacking Japan and the authorities fail, it's up to the jet-propelled giant turtle Gamera (friend of all children!) to slug it out and restore order.

★★★★

Already the star of eight previous Japanese epics, Gamera is a heavily armoured, jet propelled, fire-breathing turtle who can transform himself into a supersonic flying saucer. It cheekily re-opened head-to-head with The Lost World, and this is a treat for CGI-weaned youngsters who have never had the pleasure of gawping at a man in a creature suit stepping on some balsawood buildings.

Following some mysterious malarkey involving a run aground plutonium tanker, a drifting atoll and the de rigeur disappearing villagers, three giant flying reptiles (or Gyaos according to Japanese legend) begin to terrorise the mainland. A nifty plot device sees the "authorities" attempt to capture the winged beasties by luring them into a baseball stadium, then entrapping them by closing the roof. As ever, the plan goes horribly pear-shaped and the creatures escape, a downturn sensed by the morally righteous Gamera who lumbers toward the stadium in order to save humanity.

This sets the scene for a number of barnstorming set pieces - Gamera attacked by the army when mistakenly perceived as a threat; the Gyaos terrorising a train packed with helpless commuters - as the mythical superbeasts slug it out for supremacy. Convoluted expository scenes add longeurs and a more ironic spin might have made it more 90s. Yet the city in panic is neatly evinced, the military preparing for battlestations is stirring and director Kaneko adds flair and zest to the proceedings.

The special effects are so cheesily charming, and Gamera is such a likeable critter, that you can't help but be won over and hope there are action figures in the foyer. Taken in the right spirit, this is one hugely enjoyable battle of the behemoths.