Picked this one up late last week and watched it last night. I previously bought this as the pricey import 2 dvd disc Japanese release when it first came out on home video in Japan so I was familiar with the movie.
Obviously, this kind of movie will likely appeal to those who have a fondness for the old fashioned Japanese man-in-suit "Kaiju" giant monster genre so I'm directing my comments to those that already have some familiarity with the subject.
This movie follows the artistically successful reboot of the otherwise goofy 60's-70's Gamera giant flying turtle films helmed by Shusuke Kaneko through 3 movies in the '90s. Kaneko inventively updated the Gamera series with far more mature themes and a high level of technical artistry previously absent from the often cloyingly childish Gamera series. "Gamera The Brave" is kind of a sideways step helmed by Ryuta Tasaki who continues the overall technical quality of the 3 previous Gamera films but also gears this movie far more towards the younger market with children the primary characters instead of adults.
However, this movie is a far cry from the obnoxious, cheapo late 60's/70's Gamera flicks and indeed, the first 5 minutes where an adult Gamera graphically battles against several bat-like Gyaos winged monsters could effortlessly fit in with the 3 previous movies despite the fact it occurs in 1973. The plot involving the young kids is handled with a subtle touch although by the tail end of the movie, it gets kind of tiresome with the boy constantly disobeying his father running into danger to "aid" the "baby" Gamera. Gamera's (or "Toto" as the children name him early in the movie) enemy is a kind of oddly designed Tyrannosaurus-like monster called Zedus which is one of the more single-mindedly evil monsters seen in the kaiju genre (it's first appearance, it greedily eats several townspeople).
Gamera The Brave divided series fans who had enjoyed the 90's trilogy which literally breathed new life into the tired Kaiju genre. Many deplored the retreat back to a "Gamera, friend of children" type plot, while some including myself thought the movie was an enjoyable and imaginative update on the original Gamera mythos.
The US Blu-ray release by Tokyo Shock is a mixed bag. The transfer on a 25gb disc looks soft with no real solid blacks, something that seems to be endemic of many native Japanese region movies to Blu-ray. There's several instances of very noticeable banding in transitions from dark to brightly lit scenes as first seen in the opening Kadokawa Pictures credits. Those caveats aside, it *is* a small step up from the Japanese dvd. The DTS-HD original Japanese audio track is surprisingly robust, often with good directional surround effects on the rear channels and is the best option over the mediocre dubbed English language audio options.
The main extra is a uneven feature subtitled in English in standard definition on film production by the movie's director in which he initially compares making a movie to creating a restaurant and meal(!). It also goes into interviews with various personnel involved in production regarding various topics such as lighting, special effects, etc.
My understanding is this title is fairly hard to find aside from online retailers and may seem a bit pricey (at about $20) compared to the sub-$5 per movie price of the 90's Gamera films. But imo, the movie is well worth checking out and may well represent the last gasp of Japan's kaiju genre.