Gamera vs. Viras Is Silly Fun

Mind control, UFOs, aliens that turn into one giant squad monster and have a pretty great fight with Gamera… this is pretty much exactly what I’m looking for when I’m looking for a kaiju movie that’s on the sillier side of the spectrum. The effects aren’t on par with contemporaneous Godzilla films, especially noticeable in the city modeling (what little we got of that). But these scenes work well enough on their own.

I’m sure a lot of people were bothered by the fact that there’s a pretty long series of clips from previous Gamera movies in the first half hour of Gamera vs. Viras. I’ll admit, I rolled my eyes at first, but this wasn’t as egregious as, say, All Monsters Attack. And I loved pretty much everything that happened onboard the UFO. And the fact that there was a UFO. Seriously, you have to try very hard to mix kaiju and flying saucers (AND MIND CONTROL!!!) and not make me grin like an idiot at least a little.

The final battle between Gamera and Viras (I guess that’s both the name of the alien species and the name of the big monster guy at the end, idk, just roll with it) also doesn’t compare favorably with its most obvious competitor, but the concept is pretty solid (especially when Viras is using his tentacles to try to ensnare Gamera, though I rather selfishly wish this part had gone on a bit longer). I do have to say this isn’t one of the most well-shot or choreographed fights I’ve seen in a kaiju movie, though. There were especially way too many closeups of Gamera and Viras, likely to cover for the fact that their suits just really weren’t limber enough to have the kind of fights that fans used to Godzilla films would have expected. It was also a bit noticeable that the filmmakers didn’t really trust the fight itself to translate well enough for the audience, and instead had the two child protagonists yelling instructions and encouragement to Gamera to help the audience continue identifying with his side of the fight. And, honestly? It probably wasn’t a bad play, considering the limitations I already mentioned.

It’s still hard to get around the fact that Godzilla had a much more fully-formed personality at this point in their respective reigns as king of the monsters in their own respective continuities, but as I’m still on my first gradual run through the Gamera series, I really ought to give the big turtle some benefit of the doubt. Supposedly his Shōwa era films are awful compared to his Heisei era films, and I’ve already enjoyed the last two Shōwa era films well enough, so I suppose that bodes well for when I get deeper into the series.



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