Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Guyver: Dark Hero (1994) Review:

After first Guyver film came out in 1991, it was hard to say whether a sequel would follow it. Its proposition to audiences and fans alike was not too impressive. The acting wasn't terrible and the story wasn't written poorly either. But the characters seemed weak in depth and the special effects looked cheap. But low and behold, a sequel did arise from all these things that people and critics found they were able to pick at. And for the people who did get to see this sequel, they were in for a surprise.

Kathy Christopherson as Barker's new love interest
The Guyver: Dark Hero, partially continues what was finished in the first movie. Sean Barker starts become haunted by the "guyver" armor as he also starts to lose the ability to control it. Pushing himself away from family and friends, he leaves his home to find answers to his problems. Screenplay writer, Nathan Long, left out the last two characters left on screen at the end of the first movie and for good reason too. They didn't help excel the first one anyway. Long also remembered to include Barker's girlfriend, Mizky, for a little while too. And although the casting is different for all the characters, there is still a lot of appeal to them.

Casting was headed by Lisa Hannen, and her judgement looks like she knew what she was looking for. Instead of having Jack Armstrong reprise his role as Sean Barker, David Hayter was. Hayter would soon become the future screenwriter of the successful X-Men (2000), X2 (2003) and Watchmen (2009), which is amazing to see him making this film better just by acting. So initially, because he could not control the "guyver" he was forced to break up with Mizky. I'm glad screenwriter Long included this scene because it shows he hasn't forgotten the events from the first installment. But I still wish they were together. They looked good together.

As Barker goes on his way, he runs into another girl, Cori, played by lesser-known actress, Kathy Christopherson. Christopherson also gives her role a fair amount of attractiveness. Of course, that's after you get past the nerdy prescription glasses she wears at first. And soon the bond Cori makes with Barker ends up being a healthy relationship. Of course, anyone would know this subplot would not be missed. As for many hero films go, unless it is an antihero, there's always a love interest. So it is of no doubt that Cori and Sean will look great together.

I think this Zoanoid is better than the Lisker Zoanoid from 1991
One thing that amazed me, as it did probably to every other viewer was the MPAA rating. The rating went from PG-13 (the first movie) to rated R. That's actually a rare and unusual step that not many franchises take; but it worked. I don't know if it's because Steve Wang decided to direct on his own this time and "Screaming Mad" George was holding him back, but changing the rating made it a very enjoyable sequel. There's more carnage, which made the story seem more realistic than just people in rubber suits.

The action was also much more fierce. Hayter was even faster moving and more agile than Armstrong as the Guyver. It was done really well as were the hand-to-hand combat sequences. The special effects seemed to have improved as well. Still the creatures look like they were just people in costumes but they didn't look as rubbery coated. The dubbing was also done better for when the Zoanoids spoke in their monster form. Even one time composer, Les Claypool III, did a decent job on the unreleased music score. It wasn't complex but it did have a tune that got the blood pumping while watching the movie; which I enjoyed.

The only things I didn't find that were any better than the first movie was the dialog and background subplot. For me, the dialog still sounded like it wasn't written for a movie. Some of the lines just seemed unnecessary or out of place. As for the background subplot, Barker is able to figure out what the "guyver" unit was made for but the viewer must wait until the very end to understand what Barker learned. Why couldn't it just be explained when it was being explained to Barker? It just adds to the confusion. But weighing this against all the good things in this sequel, I can overlook it.

Director Steve Wang's second take on the "guyver" unit is all around a better film. Its improvement lies in the special effects, action sequences and a better cast of actors.

Points Earned --> 8:10

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