Gamera: Attack of Legion 1996 Movie Review

Written by Barney Buckley

Email Address – bbuckley@triad.rr.com


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Movie Information 

  • Directed by Shusuke Kaneko
  • Produced by Miyuki Nanri, Naoki Sato, Yasuyoshi Tokuma, Tsutomu Tsuchikawa
  • Studio Daiei Film
  • Distributed by Toho (Japan) ADV Films (USA)
  • Release Dates July 13, 1996
  • Running Time 100 Min.

Synopsis

The movie starts in space with meteorite showers bombarding the Earth. One large meteor impacts in northern Japan, at Sapporo. A group of amateur astronomers, headed by a woman named Midori Honani, are startled by the meteor’s impact. The meteor strike prompts the mobilization of a disaster response team to investigate the meteor’s effects on the countryside. Colonel Katarese and Hanatani head up the disaster response team.

The team gets onsite and checks out the meteor strike. Col. Katarese and Hanatani are not comforted to learn that the meteor changed direction in midflight to avoid smashing into the earth at full force. The blast from the strike has no pollution or radioactivity. Normal meteors do not exhibit these qualities.

Honani is hanging out back at the Sapporo science center with a colleague. They notice that the phone lines no longer work in the science center and that this has been the case since the meteor landed. But the source of the problem seems distant from where the meteor landed. Honani gets a call from someone describing a green glow to the south. We see a green glow in the Southern skies. Honani then goes to Lake Shikotsu for a closer look with her boss. Honani’s boss talks about unusually intense northern light activity.

Honani’s journey ends when a strong magnetic field kills their car. Honani gets out to take a look around. She runs into Katarese and Hanatoni. They find Honani and her boss’ info about the strange electromagnetic fields very interesting. Honani posits the idea that the meteorite moved and notes how strange it is that the meteorites all bee-lined towards earth. Then Katarese’s lighter goes crazy when he tries to light a cigarette.

A couple of days pass, Katarese and Hanatani investigate strange goings on at a beer bottling plant. A guard there reports exploding bottles and a strange monster. At the NTT Sapporo network operation center, the management team can only watch helplessly as someone (or something) destroys their fiber optic network. By the next day it seems that cables are being removed, not destroyed. Honani notes that this activity started in the south and moved north. It is concluded that the meteor might be playing a role in recent events.

Honani gets call #2, it’s Katarese and he wants her help. They visit the glass factory together and she confirms her theory that something is moving north from Lake Shikotsu. the security guard relates a story that he saw a crab-like creature eat the glass bottles. We find that this same guy used to be a police detective who saw Gyaos in Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. Analysis of the glass at the beer factory come ins. Seems as if the glass was chemically dissolved into silicon powder.  Honani mourns all the threats Japan has to face and voices her suspicion that this threat is probably extra-terrestrial.

The next day the scene changes to a subway station in Sapporo Odori subway Station. A train runs suddenly into rubble on the track. The conductor stops the train and sees monsters surround his train. The monsters then dissolve the glass windows and attack him & the passengers, killing them. But the monsters only take glass.  The military arrives on the scene. Cordons off the station. Katarese and Hanatani show up. A military team descends into the tunnel to find the missing subway car but are instead attacked by monsters and many are killed. Honani watches the unfolding events on TV with great concern. Then the TV dies. Suddenly a giant plant bursts out of the ground and wraps itself around several buildings.  At the phone network center all systems go offline. Katarese and Hanatani show up for real with the disaster unit.

At the subway, the team descends into the tunnel. Back topside, the military becomes worried that the atmosphere in the tunnel has 4 times the normal amount of oxygen. Katarese and Hanatani go down into the tunnel and  find strange creatures hard at work at  . . . .something . . . A squad member then discovers survivors from the subway and the team gets them out, but are left puzzling over  why some people were attacked and others were spared. Katarese and Hanatani are called into active duty and report their current findings. Hanatani reports that the creatures are increasing oxygen levels to a point where people cannot survive, Katarese says that the creatures must die for humanity to live. Segue to Honani who compares the creatures & pod to leaf cutter ants and the mushrooms the ants grow. She tells this to Katarese.

Nighttime in Sapporo. The plant flowers, prompting the JSDF to attack the flower. The JSDF sets up camp and evacuates Sapporo. JSDF then plants explosives on the plant roots. Honani and the science team do a simulation of the blast damage from a detonation of the O2 contained in the flower. They think that the flower will launch a pod, creating an explosion the blast would be comparable to an A-Bomb, a 6km blast radius. The flower gets ready to burst. Nearby on the Sanriku coast, a helicopter patrols the shoreline.

Checking out a strange contact the helicopter is nearly destroyed when Gamera bursts from the ocean. In Sapporo, JSDF blows the tunnel. This causes the plant to lose life and restore power. Gamera is sighted approaching Sapporo. JSDF moves to attack aliens. Gamera arrives. “Cool effects on body” Gamera beelines towards the plant. Gamera blasts the flower pod to bits with a fireball. Gamera then attacks and overturns the plant body before hitting it again with a fireball. The creatures in the subway then swarm out and engulf Gamera. The small  creatures wound Gamera seriously. Gamera stumbles about until flying away. Katarese gives a name to the strange menace:

“And he asked him, “What is thy name?” And he answered, saying . . . “My name is Legion. For we are many. “

A transformer draws off the bugs until Gamera can retract his body and saucer away. Gamera’s blood splashes off Honani.  A giant Legion then emerges from the rubble and flies off to the South. JSDF jets chase in pursuit and, apparently, shoot the giant Legion from the sky. News reports tell of the battle and how dead Legion litter the seashore where Gamera retreated into the water. The JSDF is desperate to find out any information on Gamera, so Honani points them to Asagi, the girl telepathically linked to Gamera. Katarese and Honani attend a dissection of the alien Legion. At the operation they discover that the Legion have a hard shell but are hot air beneath it all.

Katarese, Obitsu and Honani meet at Honani’s place. They compare notes on Legion: that Legion is a gaseous creature; that Big Legion is probably still alive; that Legion’s skin is a semiconductor. Legion is made of silicon. Making silicon produces oxygen. This explains the high O2 levels and missing glass. Legion creates silicon to make O2 for its pod and the O2 powers pod launch into space. Legion is made of silicon, a  semiconductior. But why build in cities? Honani then gives the men a drink. And they guess that Legion communicates electro-magnetically.

Radio signals drive them crazy, so large sources of electricity, cities seem like enemy nests. “Cute reference to Gamera: GOTU with a shot of the downed Tokyo Tower”. From JSDF headquarters in Tokyo we segue to a Pachinko parlor in Sendai where dead Legion are discovered. Katarese is sent to Sendai. Obitsu and Hanimani check out the Pachinkco Parlo. They see lots of dead Legion. The next morning, a pod flowers at Sendai Station. The city is then evacuated for 6KM radius in case of a pod detonation. News reports telll of a mass exodus of Sendai. Katarese sends Honani to Kasuminome airfield at Sendai.

The airfield is suddenly attacked by Giant Legion.  The last evacuation helicopter with Asagi and Honani cannot take off because of the turbulence of Legions emergence. Gamera appears and protects Asagi.  Legion begins fighting Gamera to delay the turtle long enough for the seed pod to launch. Gamera distracts Giant Legion long enough for the helicopter to get away, but gets a big can of whoop ass applied in the process. Katarese tells his commander that the city is lost and that they should flee. With Gamera seemingly vanquished, Legion leaves.

Gamera, wounded, gets back up and continues on. Katarese sees Gamera go towards the center of Sendai and towards the flower. Gamera destroys the flower, but is too late to stop the seed pod blast. So Gamera throws itself on the seed pod to prevent it from launching. The resulting explosion obliterates Sendai and, seemingly, Gamera as well. “Awesome effects when Sendai goes boom” Cool snippets ensue from world papers, including times.

At JSDF HQ the mood is grim. Tokyo is threatened. Don’t know how or when Legion will attack. Honani suggests Legion cannot reproduce until a seed is launched. Gamera has stopped them twice but now seems dead. HQ resolves to defend Tokyo at all costs. Shot of Gamera’s battered copse. Segue to Obitsu as he learns that small legions are attracted to a certain type of electromagnetic wave. Segue to Tokyo and an announcement from the Prime Minister. He states that Tokyo is next target of Legion. The fight against Legion is vital to nation’s survival. He invokes JSDF Article 9 that authorizes deployment of armed forces. Several “Top Gun” shots of the JSDF Tank forces.

More news reports. Japanese helicopter report. More JSDF tank love shots. Honani helps Asagi go to Sendai to try and revive Gamera. Helicopters find Giant Legion traveling underground. At JSDF headquarters, the brass plan more attacks on Legion. Obitsu goes to command center and gets promised a drink after the battle by Hanatani. More JSDF tank love shots. Mt. Akayuki. Sendai Station now, as children gather with Asagi near Gamera. Their thoughts and Gamera’s sigil are employed to revive the stricken turtle.

At Mt. Akayuki, Legion emerges from underground. JSDF opens fire. Legion retorts. Tanks die. Back at Sendai Station, the prayers of the children and the sigil of Asagi fuse to create a coruscation of energy. Segue to Mt. Akayuki, where Giant Legion rakes the tank regiments with blistering death rays. Facing tank losses of over 50%, the military commander withdraws the tanks and calls instead for jets to bomb Giant Legion. Giant Legion then releases a swarm of Legion towards Tokyo at over 150MPH. At Sendai, the combined force the children’s prayers and Asagi’s sigil re-energize Gamera.  “Cool Resurrection scene” Gamera revives and takes off towards Tokyo.

Gamera flies off in flipper mode. Machine guns cut down some of the approaching swarm. Gamera joins battle with Giant Legion, by landing and unleashing a flurry of fireballs on the monster. Legion uses a force shield to deflect the fireballs and recalls the Legion swarm to attack Gamera. Obitsu commandeers a power station in a desperate bid to divert the Legion swarm. Obitsu gets the power station running and the signal draws the swarm away from Legion, much to the creature’s dismay. HQ dispatches helicopters to destroy the Legion swarm, drawn to the power station. Meanwhile, Gamera fights Giant Legion. Big Legion pins Gamera on the ground and prepares to blow Gamera’s head off. A quick burst of Gamera’s jets blows Giant Legion’s shot off course. Giant Legion approaches the 2nd Japanese defense line with Gamera still trying to stop him.

“It is confirmed that Gamera seems to be trying to stop Giant Legion.”

Segue Nasaki transmitting station. Obitsu arrives as the swarm is clustered around the power lines. Obitsu checks inside the power station, while Katarese arrives at the power station. Segue to Giant Legion kicking Gamera’s ass. Gamera’s steadfast defense of Tokyo prompts the military commander to issue the following order:

“Order all forces to fire on Giant Legion and support Gamera”.

JSDF launches missiles at Giant Legion, who stops some, but gets hit enough to lose some arms and the shield power. This allows Gamera to score a hit on Giant Legion with a fireball. Stunned, Giant Legion now gets slapped around by a very pissed Gamera. Segue to power station. Attendant is cursing Obitsu for commandeering power station. Both men are almost killed by a stray Legion. The creature is dispatched by Katarese. Katarese informs Obitsu that he has come with anti-tank helicopters to finish the Legion swarm. Anti-tank helicopters then destroy the swarm. Gamera rushes Giant Legion while it is confused and manages to rip off its power horn.

This REALLY hurts Giant Legion. Giant Legion revives though, and hits Gamera with some sort of energy whip. Giant Legion uses this new weapon to punch Gamera through Tokyo’s final defense line. Segue to power station where tank helicopters blow up swarm. The swarm’s death injures and confuses Giant Legion. This allows Gamera to get back up off the ground and use its final weapon, where Gamera draws upon the life energy of Earth itself and fires it out reflex-gun style as Giant Legion approaches. Giant Legion is then literally blown away by Gamera’s power blast.

The enemy toasted, Gamera flies away as the JSDF soldiers salute the turtle. Asagi, her bond with Gamera sacrificed to save the turtle, bids her friend a tearful goodbye. Segue to Sapporo where Obitsu and Honani walk together and talk about Gamera. Honani says Gamera protects the earth not necessarily man and warns us not to get on wrong side of the conflict.

What I Think about This Movie

Legion regardless of what anyone says he did is Gamera toughest opponent to date. The reason I say this is because all through the movie Gamera has tried to stop Legion, but has failed. Gamera has thrown everything and Legion, but she manages to keep coming until the end.

This is because the armor how to use a different energy force to destroy Legion is call earth Mana which is an energy that surrounds the entire planet and keep things in balance. After using this energy in the next movie the balance is upset. Things I like about this movie obviously Legion fantastic design here. The many weapons of Legion and her swarm are another thing that is high on the list and put a hurting on Gamera. The negatives about this movie I really can’t recall any because this is my favorite Gamera movie from the Heisei Series. My favorite Gamera suit is that of Gamera three.

Trivia: I have a small amount of trivia for the movie Gamera vs Legion 1996

March 11, 2001, there is a lot more irony in the girls standing in front of Sendai Station and saying that New York is dangerous. In fact, the whole Sendai destruction sequence is somewhat disturbing.

Goofs

The “My name is Legion” quote is from Mark 5:9, not Mark 9:8 as claimed by one of the soldiers (in the dubbed DVD version)

Closing Statements

I have to say that I am quite impressed with this movie and everything about it seems that Shesuke Kaneko is by far the best director when it comes to making Kaiju movies. With the exception of Ishiro Honda and some others that are atop that list. It seems that each and every time that he does a Gamera movie he does get better however the third one the storyline does slip a little bit what the special effects are top-notch. This movie if you haven’t seen it you need to see is that good.

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