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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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for Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gamera the Brave

Your Tipster hit a particularly rough day back in January and, unable to write anything remotely readable, I prescribed myself a DVD double feature to alleviate my doldrums. The movies didn't resolve any of the issues before me, but they did allow me to kick back and relax for a few hours.

First up was Gamera the Brave [Tokyo Shock; $19.99]. Released in Japan in 2006 as "Little Braves of Gamera," this is an entertaining "kids kaiju" movie. It's aimed at kids and it has the requisite "cute" moments, but it does not soft-pedals the jeopardy, destruction, and death that accompanies the attacks of the monster Zedus. There are some truly scary events in this movie.

Originally intended as the first in a series of new Gamera movies, Gamera the Brave opens with the original Gamera blowing himself up to destroy the winged Gyaos preying on humans. The father of Toru, this movie's young hero, was present at this battle and retains his fear of giant monsters.

Years later, Toru's having a tough time dealing with the death of his mother in an automobile accident. His faith is shaken and he can't even believe she's watching over him from heaven. He finds an egg laying in a strangely glowing rock and the egg hatches in his hand, revealing a baby turtle with strange markings. I think you can all figure out where this is heading.

Toto - Toru names the turtle after the nickname his mother used to call him - gets too big for Toru to hide in his room. The turtle also starts exhibiting some unusual abilities, making him a hit with Toru's friends. Meanwhile, after whetting his appetite with various unlucky seamen, Zedus makes for the all-you-can-eat-humans buffet on land.

Before the monsters meet, we get much richer characterization than was the norm in Gamera films of the past. There are father-son issues to be addressed and a serious operation facing one of Toru's friends. Then comes the action and, exciting as it is, the human characters remain the driving force of the story. This holds true all the way to the movie's very satisfying conclusion.

Toto Gamera's big eyes are somewhat off-putting, but the Zedus suit and movements are first-rate. Unfortunately, the movie was not a success in Japan, which likely rules out any sequels for the near future. That's a shame because it was a fine giant monster movie for kids with enough weight to be entertaining for older viewers as well. I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Gamera the Brave earns an impressive four out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

Disaster Movie

The bottom half of my double feature afternoon was Disaster Movie [Lions Gate; $29.95] in its unrated widescreen edition. I know. But I'm hopeless addicted to these stupid, vulgar parody films which, bad as they usually are, are still funnier than 90% of what's been published in MAD since Al Feldstein left his editorial position there. However, this latest one is somewhat less bad than its predecessors.

Disaster Movie really piles on the spoofs: Cloverfield, Sex and the City, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Hellboy, Hancock, Enchanted, The Dark Knight, Kung Fu Panda, Juno, Beowulf, Hannah Montana, Amy Winehouse, Wanted, and many others. The High School Musical parody is pretty funny while a girl fight between Juno and Carrie Bradshaw is hilarious. In addition to my addiction to these movies, I also confess I laughed out loud at the closing number, a definitely not-for-children version of Sarah Silverman's legendary ditty about having Biblical knowledge of Matt Damon.

Sometimes you can watch a movie on just the right day for it to work for you. That was the case here. I'm giving Disaster Movie two out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony



It's Tuesday and that apparently means it's time for a batch of new Tony Polls questions. This week, we're asking you to vote on which of four major comics awards best reflects comicdom as a whole, which of those awards is most susceptible to tampering by creators and/or publishers, and if you feel it was fitting for President Barack Obama to bow to the king of Saudi Arabia.

The questions will remain active until sometime after midnight on Monday night, April 20.

You can cast your votes here:

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 04/13/2009 | 04/14/2009 | 04/15/2009 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined.

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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