Review: GAMERA 2: ATTACK OF LEGION (1996)

What do you do when the seams of the world are falling apart? You call Gamera and hope for the best. In Shusuke Kaneko’s GAMERA 2: ATTACK OF LEGION, Earth is under threat from a rash of insectoid aliens and a giant turtle may be the only way to prevent annihilation. This 1996 kaiju picture is the sequel to GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE, the 1995 flick that rebooted Gamera and put an end to all the ingenuous mischief of the previous Daiei Film series.

After the events of GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE, things have calmed somewhat and Japan is rebuilding. Unfortunately, peace is short-lived. A meteor shower turns out to be the precursor to an alien invasion, with an army of insectoid creatures laying seed pods. With the city of Sapporo under siege and a Kirin factory missing its bottles, all hell seems set to break loose. The humans do their best, but they’re out of their element. Luckily, the giant turtle Gamera comes to the rescue just when all hope seems lost.

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GAMERA 2: ATTACK OF LEGION suggests humanity outmatched by its foe. The characters, a range of scientists and military personnel, wage war the best they can against the threat known as Legion. But they are often stuck theorizing. Even Asagi (Ayako Fujitani) loses her spiritual connection with Gamera and the pendant shatters in her hand, leaving nothing but blood behind. The certainty of defeat is pressed with an interesting sequence at the end, as the victor demonstrates a power that haunts and terrifies those rescued.

It’s not hard to unpack the symbolism, with Gamera representing a weapon both dreadful and necessary. Much of the movie is spent exploring the military response, with the Prime Minister taking to the airwaves to clarify how his country’s actions are only taken in self-defence. GAMERA 2: ATTACK OF LEGION isn’t all doom and gloom and Kaneko presents many moments of levity. The fight scenes are stunning and Junichi Tozawa’s cinematography again captures the horror of the threat. But, as the conclusion asserts, the future is uncertain. And so is Gamera.

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