Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)

Unrated   |    |  Action, Adventure, Drama

Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995) Poster

A hibernating species of giant carnivorous birds is awakened on a Japanese island shortly after the military encounters an unidentified mass moving beneath the water off-shore.


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Cast & Crew

Top Billed Cast


Shûsuke Kaneko


Kazunori Itô, James Shanks

Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

23 November 2009 | TheUnknown837-1
| a magnificently entertaining monster movie; the start of a transformation that would evolve Gamera from just a Godzilla-want-to-be into his own character
When Gamera first appeared in Japanese theaters in 1965, he was nothing more than a Godzilla-want-to-be. The giant flying turtle was one of the few want-to-bes that achieved any level of success close to what Godzilla had, but there was still nothing primal about him. Now truth by told, although I am a huge kaiju (giant monster) fan, I was not and still am not a fan of the original Gamera series. Those films were so juvenile and unbelievably dull that they made even the corniest of the Godzilla movies look like visionary works of art by comparison. And so Gamera had that reputation for a while. He was popular and suited only for very young children. That was until 1995, when director Shusuke Kaneko changed all of that with a very successful inventive trilogy of Gamera films that changed the flying turtle from just another Godzilla rip-off into his own character…and in three very good movies. The first was "Gamera: Guardian of the Universe." In this vast reinvention of the Gamera series, decades of environmental catastrophes have awakened a flock of bat-like creatures called the Gyaos, who begin to plague Japanese islands and then threaten the mainland. Around the same time, a giant turtle referred to in legend as Gamera, awakens at the same time. As the monsters begin to battle, its soon discovered that their simultaneous appearance and their aggression for each other is anything but coincidence.

Now in terms of its plot, "Gamera: Guardian of the Universe" is anything but special, but then again, neither was "Predator" (1987) or "Jaws" (1975) or to a certain extent "Gojira" (1954). Like with all of those movies, its the high-energy pacing and the stories that make "Gamera: Guardian of the Universe" work. The best word to describe this movie is fun. Even Roger Ebert, who is not a fan of the kaiju genre (see his review for "Godzilla 1985" for proof) admitted he had a fun time with the film.

One thing I particularly liked about "Gamera: Guardian of the Universe" as well as the other two movies in the trilogy was that even when the monsters were not on screen, I was not bored for a second. Typically in monster movies, the creatures are the most interesting element and the human characters are inane and time-fillers. This film is an exception. The characters are familiar in terms of classification (scientist, witness, etcetera) but they are fairly fleshed-out to become likable. The dialogue is also very well-written so that for once, the explanation of the monsters' origin is not long-winded, familiar, or tiresome.

But of course, I can't leave out the star of the movie, Gamera himself. Kaneko's decision to change Gamera from a child-friendly big-hearted turtle into a more vicious and animal-like, yet somehow appealing monster was absolutely brilliant. Now in terms of how he's presented, no, Gamera is not spectacular, but then again neither was the shark in "Jaws". And both creatures carry of their parts effectively. The Gyaos are also fairly well-done, although in their earlier scenes, there was a little too much of a phony expression in their ping pong ball-like eyes. Overall, the special effects are a little more then what you'd expect, although not fantastic like in the second and third installments of the trilogy.

Bottom line, "Gamera: Guardian of the Universe" is like the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" of Japanese monster movies. It's not meant to be taken seriously and nobody does, it doesn't try to be anything more than what it is, and every second is nonstop energetic and pleasurable cinematic fun.

Critic Reviews


Release Date:

16 April 1997



Country of Origin


Filming Locations

Tokyo, Japan

Box Office


JPY5,000,000 (estimated)

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