Gamera 2: Advent of Legion (1996)

Class: User
Score: (5/5)
June 6th, 2005 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

Gamera 2: Advent of Legion is the second installment in the acclaimed Gamera trilogy, and it is quite an excellent entry indeed. With few, if any, flaws, this movie boasts stunning special effects, likeable characters, and an amazing new villain!

A meteor falls from the sky and lands south of Sapporo. A team of scientists, accompanied by the Japanese Self-Defense Force, is sent out to investigate the strange occurrence. When they arrive, all that they find is a massive hole in the ground, nothing more. Soon, strange things begin to happen in Sapporo. Cables in the subway begin to disappear, and it is learned that human-sized creatures are running amok in the underground network. Suddenly, huge plants also begin to appear in the city. It is discovered that the plants, which now resemble enormous flowers, are creating abnormally high oxygen levels around the area. While plans are being made to destroy these anomalous organisms, an incoming unidentified object is spotted on radar...

Gamera arrives in Sapporo and destroys the plants with his plasma fireballs. The creatures from the subway tunnels, however, surface and begin to defend the plant pods. Scaling the height of the titanic turtle, the horrific monsters begin to bite and slash at Gamera. The heroic reptile can only endure so much abuse before it takes to the skies. The terrible devils are named "Legion" after a passage in the Bible that describes a group of demons of the aformentioned name: "And he asked unto him, 'What is thy name?' And he answered saying, 'My name is Legion, for I am the one of the many.'"

Suddenly, a far more gargantuan Legion rips through the ground and takes to the sky. The JSDF sends in a squadron of F-15 fighter jets to take down the monstrosity, but the assault is futile. Legion escapes, and all that remains is a huge wing.

Midori Honami and her friend Obitsu begin to study the Legion, and it is discovered that Legion communicates through microwaves. The heavy electrical emissions that emanate from Sapporo must have attracted the menace to the city.

Meanwhile, Gamera is summoned and the giant turtle discovers Legion underground. The immensely powerful monster defeats Gamera, while the city evacuates. As Legion leaves, giant turlte notices a pod in the city that is about to launch seeds that could completely decimate the city! Gamera just manages to intercept the seed, and is knocked cold as Legion continues to move toward Tokyo.

Asagi Kusanagi and a group of children pray for Gamera's revival, and fire from nearby torches flutters around the unconscious turtle. Gamera absorbs the energy, recovers, and begins to head for Tokyo to stop the mother Legion! When the two monsters fight, Legion calls her swarm to protect her. Luckily, Obitsu manages to attract the awful creatures to a power plant, where jets finish the repugnant gremlins off. Gamera continues to battle Legion as the self-defense force readies an attack. They launch missiles at Legion, and though the demonic horror manages to deflect some, the rest hit her head on and begin to rend her limbs from her body. Gamera unleashes his plasma fireballs at Legion, but she uses her shield, which has become noticeably smaller. The herculean turtle tears the horn from his enemy, and the beast collapses to the ground. It seems as though Gamera is victorious, until Legion's eye glows a bright, fiery red. Legion regains her footing and reveals her new ability: energy whips! The attack is so strong that it can slice straight through Gamera's resistant hide! All seems lost; when suddenly, huge rings appear in the sky. Gamera calls on the Earth's mana to help him, and his chest opens to reveal an unbelievable energy blast. The beam completely decimates Legion!

Gamera has won, and he turns to the military. In moments, the guardian of the universe takes to the skies and returns to the sea.

The plot of Gamera 2: Advent of Legion is excellent, from the meteor landing, to the Legions' appearance; it all fits together perfectly. Though the movie contains a lot of action, the final battle between Gamera and Legion really stands apart. It is very suspenseful, because one wonders how the fight will actually end. It seems as though Gamera has no chance of beating Legion, but the heroic turtle pulls it off in the end with an attack that is original and interesting.

The character development is a plus as well. The characters aren't boring and unoriginal like in some kaiju films. One good example is Obitsu. He doesn't give up on anything, and he won't let any obstacle hinder him. This is clearly shown when Obitsu continues to call the power plant to persuade them to activate the power. Even though it appears hopeless, Obitsu's resolve holds firm, and his request is finally granted. The kind and caring Asagi also returns in this movie, and her positive attributes carry over as well.

The actors do a good job of portraying their respective characters. They really enter their roles in a way where they don't seem to merely be actors, but actually real people in real situations. Asagi's actor, Ayako Fujitani, returns to the cast and portrays her character with an even greater expertise than in this movie's predecessor. Obitsu's actor, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, also works expertly to make his character appear very real and tangible.

Special effects-wise, this film excels. The mana making its way towards Gamera is a visually stunning and beautiful scene. When Gamera uses the mana blast, it is absolutely amazing. Legion's energy whips are also very well done. The suits themselves are also an achievement on their own accord. They look so realistic, that from time to time, they make one wonder whether or not they're actually CGI!

The music portion of this film is executed nicely, as well. There are two themes that really stand out, however. The main theme is the first; it has a very nice tune and is very pleasant on the ears. The music that accompanies the military setting up is also an achievement. It fits the scene perfectly and has that "military march" quality to it that really makes it stand out.

Overall, this movie is very well made and a stellar installment in the Gamera series. It has almost no flaws, and it is very fun to watch. From the superb acting, to the stunning effects, to the pleasant music, this really is a movie that stands apart from similar kaiju films. If you haven't seen this movie, it should definitely be on your "to watch" list. It really is brilliant!