Gamera: Revenge of Iris is regarded very highly in the kaiju fanbase. Even on the Blu-Ray cover, a quote from Stomp Tokyo's review is there. "...the finest monster movie made since the original Godzilla." This marks the final film in the Gamera Heisei trilogy. This is legendary, one of the most highly rated kaiju films of all time. After watching it again after all these years, I agree 100%. Revenge of Iris is a definitive kaiju film, one that you could look too and be supremely proud of. It's one that give a good name to the genre. This film has it all. A very compelling story, interesting characters and back-stories, excellent monster action, and just everything about it This film takes all the positives of the previous two films, and improves upon them. Revenge of Iris is a gem, an emerald gem.
The story begins in a village where a dead Gyaos lays. It turns out that the birds are back, now evolved into 'Hyper Gyaos.' Gamera's on the scene to eradicate all he could find. The military is getting fed up with the damage he causes however. Meanwhile, in a cave hidden in the woods, a pod has hatched. Inside crawls out a creature dubbed 'Iris.' Eventually this cute creature grows into an evil giant monster. This mutated Gyaos may prove just too powerful for the Guardian of the Universe....
Wow. That's the first word I thought of once the end credits started to role. I was very impressed with this film, more so than the first two times I viewed it. It has that cinematic feel, it felt 'down-to-earth.' Some scenes really reminded me of Cloverfield. This is probably the most realistic kaiju film I have ever seen. One of the most fantastic scenes you'll ever see in a kaiju film was when Gamera battled Gyaos in the city. It was just amazing, the angles and scope of it all. Director Shusuke Kaneko really knew what he was doing, it was great to see the super turtle showing off his true power. And once again, the human characters prove to be an interesting force when there's no monster action.
Mayumi returns from Guardian of the Universe. Again, she is the best human character in the whole thing. A protagonist you could root for. However, the central focus is on Ayana. This girls makes a bond with the title opponent, Iris. (She names it that by the way.) Her backstory on why she hates Gamera is actually interesting and makes sense, it isn't a generic revenge thing. Asagi returns for an even smaller role than I remembered. Truly, her character and link to Gamera should have been explored better in the three films. Osako returns once again. Granted, he isn't as bad as in the previous two, but is still the worst written character in the whole thing. (He was given a major role later in the film, but then written off as if he didn't matter at all to the story anymore.) Then we have Kurata and his girlfriend. Kurata was written pretty well for the most part, but his death toward the end came kinda sudden, then it felt like he had no significance in the film. Those two characters could have explored better, I really didn't get what they were trying to accomplish. They had an interesting plot, but needed to be explained better.
The next paragraph will be talking about how amazing the kaiju were this time. First up, Gamera. Alright, he looked AMAZING. This might be the greatest and most realistic suit I've ever seen in a kaiju film, it's an improvement over the already great look from the previous two films. He looks fierce, he just means business. See, suits could work in modern day film-making, this is a prime example of that. Iris is the new opponent here, it looks just fantastic. Truly a unique and 'cool' appearance. The CGI, when used, is fantastic. See, this film doesn't rely on CGI that much, and doesn't look fake when it does use it. My only complaint is the backstory. Iris is never truly explained, or its intentions after it was going to fuse with Ayana. Besides that, a fantastic 'final' opponent for Gamera. Oh, and some Gyaos appear. A major improvement over their Guardian of the Universe counterparts, they look really realistic. (It's also great to hear their classic roar.)
The soundtrack is actually an improvement over the previous two films. Dynamic, especially the opening theme. And the theme that plays when Gamera battles Iris is very dynamic also. First of all, the monster fights are just fantastic. One of the best scenes in the film was the aerial fight between Gamera and Iris, it was amazingly well-done. This also might just be the most emotional and dramatic kaiju film I have ever seen. I still get goosebumps at the scene when Gamera destroys his own hand to save Ayana and destroy Iris. The final battle is just intense, and pretty bloody. Probably one of the more violent kaiju films out there, and also was part-horror sometimes. When Iris does away with its victims, the remains are are pretty horrific. (I remember being creeped-out by those scenes when I was way younger.)
Overall, Gamera: Revenge of Iris is a great film. It succeeds in being something everyone can enjoy. This film has it all. A compelling story, good characters, excellent monster action, near-perfect special effects, and is just an all-around great film. It brings the Heisei trilogy to a climatic close, it's just dramatic and dynamic from the beginning to the very end. I'm a huge Godzilla fan, but the Gamera Heisei trilogy are some of the finest in the genre. Seventeen years later, and these films still hold up. Revenge of Iris is thirteen years old, yet it features better special effects than some of today's movies. (Journey to the Center of the Earth.) There's not much else to say about it, if you haven't seen the trilogy, buy the Blu-Ray triple feature off Amazon. You will not be disappointed.