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ADV Films presents
Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999)

"This means the Gyaos are evolving at tremendous speed."
- Mayumi Nagamine (Shinobu Nakayama)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: August 11, 2003

Stars: Shinobu Nakayama, Ai Maeda, Ayako Fujitani
Other Stars: Senri Yamasaki, Tora Tezuka
Director: Shusuke Kaneko

Manufacturer: M.O.F.C.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (giant monster violence, minor bloodshed)
Run Time: 01h:49m:02s
Release Date: June 10, 2003
UPC: 702727038921
Genre: sci-fi


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+B-A- B

DVD Review

Since it's impossible to keep a giant monster turtle guardian of the universe down, Daiei brought back Gamera in 1999 for a third (and thus far final) outing in his modern incarnation. This time the effects are even better than the first three, and some interesting wrinkles enter the mythology.

The world is being plagued by a series of evil omens, such as the discoveries of dozens of dead Gamera under the sea, and that the curved jewels used to contact Gamera have begun to decay. At the same time, ornithologist Mayumi Nagomine (Shinobu Nakayama) runs across the carcass of a young Gyaos monster near a small village, indicating that the threat posed in the first movie has not quite been defeated. Young Ayana Hirasaka finds a gigantic odd leathery egg in a cave and names the squidlike creature that erupts from it Iris, after her cat who (along with her family) was accidentally killed by Gamera. Inflamed by vengeance, Ayana works to control Iris to work her revenge against Gamera. Meanwhile, the military also has decided that Gamera poses a threat and determines to take it out of the picture for good.

Nakayama makes a welcome returns to the series. She's still quite appealing and has great charm as the heroine. Also back is Ayako Fujitani as Asagi Kusanagi, the girl with the psychic link to Gamera. The result ends up as teenage girls facing off via their linked gigantic monsters, which has all sorts of weird Freudian wish-fulfillment elements, but it's not as if that's completely out of character for the kaiju eiga genre. Thrown in as a wild card is Tora Tezuka as Shinya Kurata, an ominous and slightly mad longhaired character. Tezuka provides a highly unsettling element into the mix that helps keep the proceedings on edge through the second half.

What really sells this third chapter are the effects by Shinji Higuchi. The blend of standard rubber suit, puppetry and CGI worked well in the first two installments, but it really hits a high point here. It's generally quite difficult to tell how many of the effects are achieved, and again Gamera has a distinct personality, an element all too often missing in the genre. Iris, an evolved stage of the Gyaos, has a very otherworldly appearance that is quite striking and makes for a menacing visual presence.

There's a ton of giant monster mayhem for the fan, and between a decent storyline and the effects this is a real winner. The primary drawback is that there's not really a conclusion: the film is set up for a sequel that never has happened, at least to this date. So there's a very unsatisfying finale that leaves the Gyaos on the loose threatening the world.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Despite being presented in anamorphic widescreen format, there are a number of issues, particularly with brightly saturated colors. On such colors, the edges break up into a digital checkerboard. This is most prominent with reds but also occurs on vivid blues as well. Otherwise color is good (if oversaturated) and detail is acceptable, without added edge enhancement.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Japanese, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: ADV provides a 5.1 DD track for both the English dub and the original Japanese. The English tends to have a smarmy and often silly air to it, making the original spoken language even more vital than usual. Both are extremely clean, with good dialogue rendering. Koh Otani's music score has excellent presence, and the sounds of the monsters fighting provides enough prominent bass to make any subwoofer owner smile. No problems here at all.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
6 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
20 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Documentaries
4 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Gamera, Soldier No. 6
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:25m:40s

Extra Extras:
  1. "Outtakes" gag reel
  2. Previews of ADV series Farscape, Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, Princess Blade, Noir and RahXephan
Extras Review: ADV brings a wide variety of additional material, not all of it serious, to the table on this release. Foremost is the concluding 30 minutes of the ongoing interview with Shinji Higuchi regarding the effects. Much of the time is spent discussing the philosophical implications of the relative powerlessness of the humans in the films (except, of course, the linked girls, although that element is given shorter shrift). Background information on the making of the film includes the 1998 press conference (3m:48s) announcing the marketing of the film (though not, pointedly, the production of the film itself). A 4m:40s set of backstage clips are presented in rather haphazard manner, set to the Gamera theme song and without any information about what we're seeing. Promotional events with interviews and photo opportunities are included, as is a 5m:59s segment on the opening of the film on March 6, 1999. An amazing array of promotional material (6 trailers and 20 TV spots) are also presented. An item designated as "outtakes" is really clips of the film with the English voice actors goofing around in redneck voices; it's not as amusing as the similar item found on the Gamera 2 disc. Taking that voiceover gag even further is the comic full-length commentary that runs with the conceit that Gamera was portrayed by a cultivated British actor named Cameron (who is, nonetheless, a 200-foot tall turtle). Phony anecdotes and false information are rampant here, with the assistance of "Soldier No. 6" who seems to crop up nearly everywhere as well as Iris herself. Fans of the genre will probably be offended by the utterly disrespectful attitude taken here, but it actually manages quite a few genuine laughs during the running time. It seems to be mostly improvised and sustaining such comedy for so long is worth some attention in and of itself.

The usual assortment of ADV promos for its anime discs are found as well. Chaptering is much improved from the first installment, but the layer change is horrifically placed: it falls right in the middle of a massive explosion! The result completely takes the viewer out of the film as the action suddenly freezes and the audio goes dead until the layer can be changed. Someone wasn't paying attention.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

The best of the three modern Gamera films, other than the disappointing conclusion that remains open-ended, at least for now. The picture has some issues, but the audio is excellent. The extras range from very good to disrespectful and while the commentary may infuriate devotees of the genre, there is some lowbrow fun to be had.

 


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