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Gamerathon: Gamera 3: Revenge Of Iris



  • According to director Shusuke Kaneko, he had to be cautious about how to film the final act in Kyoto. There are many nationalist groups in Japan that would take offense at disrespecting Kyoto. It was the historical capital of Japan and disrespecting it would be considered disrespectful to Japan as a whole. That is why many kaiju films rarely take place in Kyoto.

 
  • Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, Gamera 2: Attack of Legion, and Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris all made it on Kinema Junpo's best Japanese films list for their respective years they were released. Kinema Junpo is the oldest Japanese magazine that first started publishing in July 1919. The magazine is also referred to as Kinejun.

 
  • Despite the critical acclaim, the Gamera Heisei trilogy never matched the box-office success as the Godzilla and Mothra films of this era, though they were successful in their own right.

 
  • Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris had a longer production time of more than a year. The usual Japanese film production lasts for only a few months. Director Kaneko credits the films quality due to this, stating that if he had to choose between time or money, having more time is beneficial to the filmmaker.


Review:

Four years after Gamera ended Legion's invasion, Gamera has become a major problem for Japan causing destruction to major cities as he hunts down a new breed of Gyaos. Meanwhile, Ayana, a high school girl, raises a demonic monster to get revenge on Gamera for the death of her parents in 1995.


Ever since Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, director Shusuke Kaneko had envisioned a dark interpretation of the monster. Although Daiei held back on a dark Gamera film, the director's influence for a serious film series would become more prominent with each installment. Acting as the final chapter of the trilogy, Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris takes that dark route not just for the monster, but for the movie's story. This was a movie from my childhood that I would rank as one of my most favorite monster movies and it still holds up as one of my favorites.


The story focuses on high school girl, Ayana, as she and her little brother were forced to stay with relatives after her parents were accidentally killed by Gamera in 1995. Due to this unfortunate event she is consumed by a deep hatred for the monster. When she was challenged by her classmates to enter a shrine as a way to get them to stop bullying her brother, she discovers a stone that turns out to be a seal that caged a malevolent monster that she names Iris and raises it to kill Gamera. Meanwhile, former ornithologist, Mayumi Nagamine, is trying to figure out how and why the Gyaos have returned. All the while Gamera is on a rampage causing massive amounts of destruction across major cities while hunting down the Gyaos due to him severing his connection with humanity.


I will say the story is not the greatest story nor a masterpiece, but it is one of the best movies this franchise has to offer. The movie's story is a more character driven story that has a steady pace similar to Godzilla (2014) that has a slow build up to Gamera. What is done well here is we get to know the characters more personally. The movie shows you why Ayana is hellbent on getting revenge. The movie shows just how destructive Gamera can be and how that affects the people who were caught in the middle. You get to know these characters on a personal level, which I feel monster movies today don't do a whole lot anymore. Human characters in monster movies today have been just the story getting them from point A to point B so event A/B can take place. You don't get to know them on a personal level enough for the audience to care about them and their journey. The one gripe I do have with the story is the cliffhanger ending. It ends with a swarm of Gyaos flying towards Kyoto and Gamera (badly injured from the fight with Iris) marching on to the next fight teasing the idea of a fourth film that was never officially made. While a film called "Gamera 4: Truth" was made, it was a fan film that was only screened at a couple of Japanese conventions and it can't be watched anywhere online. Maybe one day Kadokawa could come back and conclude this story line with a true fourth movie, but for now Gamera 3 just feels open ended and left the story of the Heisei series unfinished.


To follow up on that direction of the movie feeling more personal, the fights themselves are zoomed in on purpose to make them feel even more personal. It use to be that the fights are zoomed out enough for you to get a perspective of the size of these monsters and to watch the whole fight play out without trying to guess what is happening in the shot. In Gamera 3, the fights are shot more up close and in different perspectives of the people to show the more destructive side of what goes on during these fights. It can be from the ground or from inside a building peering through a window because the movie wants to show just how much damage these monsters have caused. The monster fights are not a big wrestlemania smack-down event, but rather to present how Gamera is becoming more of a threat to humanity than a savior that he was originally meant to be. So I really appreciate just how these monsters are affecting every day life on a collateral scale.


The design for Gamera in this movie is the most radical of the monster. I even dare to say that it is probably the most popular design with fans. Most fan films I have seen with Gamera use this design or a variation of the design. Even the new Gamera for Gamera: Rebirth takes heavy inspiration from this design combined with the Monsterverse Godzilla. I can see why it would be so popular because it is the most intimidating design of Gamera ever put on screen. He actually looks scary for the very first time we lay eyes on him. Combine that with him now having a very destructive prowess you basically do get what is essentially Godzilla in turtle form. Gamera embodies Godzilla in this new design and it is most definitely a design that any future iteration will take inspiration from.


When it comes to the design of Iris, the movie's antagonist, there is a lot of speculation on what the monster is supposed to be. At first, Iris is described to be the legendary Phoenix that was sealed away. Later on, Nagamine discovers from the tissue samples she collected that Iris could be a Gyaos that can mutate at will. The design does vaguely incorporate characteristics of the Phoenix if you look at it while it is flying, but it looks more like a squid with the long tentacles. In some concept art, the face does try to incorporate some features from Gyaos. Yet, the final design lost anything that relates Iris to the Gyaos. On its own, however, it is a great design that goes great in contrast with Gamera's design.


Final Thoughts:

Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris still holds up as one of my favorite monster movies. It has a more character driven story with a much darker outlook on how the victims are affected by the monsters. Gamera's more up-to-date design makes him look more threatening reflecting this much more serious story. I only wish the movie didn't end on a cliffhanger.


What are your thoughts on Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris? Is this one of your favorite movies? Where would you rank it in your favorite monster movie list? Leave a comment in the comments section of your thoughts on this movie. Make sure follow me on Facebook, Minds, MeWe, Gab, and TRUTH Social to stay up to date for more news, reviews, and discussions.

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