Guyver: Dark Hero
Guyver: Dark Hero 1994
After watching the first Guyver movie and seeing how campy it was, I was very curious to see how the follow up would be considering that it is one of the very rare cases where it goes from PG-13 to R instead of vice-versa and completely loses the comedy angle. Unfortunately, when you take out the comedy angle of the Guyver, what’s left is the same amount of poor acting but without nearly as much camp to make it as enjoyable as it was. There is still some laughs to be had at the cheesiness of it all, but it ends up being a lot more boring than the first one and the small handful of really interesting practical special effects have been replaced with really crappy looking first generation digital effects. It aims at being a more serious story, and yet it also tosses in a large number of cliched and soap opera-ish plotlines that don’t make it any more interesting. Which is disappointing, because there is the seed of a good story that could be told within all of this greater mythology, it’s just being presented in one of the poorest ways possible.
It’s been one year since the events in the first movie and in that time, every actor has changed. Well, technically both actors as the only two characters returning from the first movie are Sean and Mizky, and Sean leaves Mizki in no short order after the opening scene where he kills a group of the shapeshifting aliens called Zoanoids. Which is in complete contrast to what he says later in the movie when he says that he destroyed the Chronos corporation and is surprised that there are still Zoanoids around. Sean also seems to think that the Guyver has a mind of its own and is at least partly controlling his actions when fighting the Zoanoids, as he claims that the suit is the one killing the alien hybrids. And on top of that, he’s been having dreams and sketching on what looks like his 5th grade notebook based on the quality of the doodles. The sketches apparently have to do with a report he sees on TV which makes no sense because he is not only able to pause it complete with VCR static, but it seems to be the equivalent of a local news program several states away. There’s an archaeological dig which he makes his way into through a future love interest while she is buying a likely product placed case of Bud Dry which gets more screentime than Mizki did. And of course, the dig is uncovering Zoanoid bones on the way to finding a spaceship with Guyver connections.
There is a relationship of sorts between Sean and the female archaeologist Cori, but it was one of those relationships that just consisted of Sean bugging her to tag along over and over until she eventually gives in. She spends most of her time caring more about her work until the Zoanoids show their true forms and she spends most of the rest of the time running in fear. There’s plenty of other melodramatic relationships here, as everything is always connected. Cori’s father is the head of the dig, and she also eventually finds out that he is a Zoanoid. Which honestly brings up another question that is never exactly answered as to how these Zoanoids end up having perfectly human children, as both the Mizki and Cori are perfectly human who have Zoanoid fathers. I think Sean just has a subconscious desire for Zoanoid kids. There’s also a government agent working undercover at the dig who knows about the Chronos corporation which is apparently a worldwide phenomenon and not just localized to LA as Sean previously thought. And of course, the whole dig is being funded by another member of the Chronos corporation who wants to use the Guyver technology for himself.
One thing that can be appreciated about the first movie are the special effects. The Zoanoid and Guyver suits were all varying degrees of impressive and the sequel is on a similar level. The head Zoanoid has a great look to him with a lot of detail and movement, and even the one female Zoanoid has a nice look with a much more simple makeup. Even some of the set designs like the alien spaceship look quite well done. The problem is that in the three years since the first Guyver there had already been some advancement in digital effects and so they were used here instead of the exclusively practical effects. And low budget digital effects from this era really stand out as looking completely out of place here. One of the better effects was the initial Guyver transformation, but when that is transferred to a digital effect here, it looks completely ridiculous. There’s also a really weird choice with the sound design during the fights. While it is fairly common to integrate animal noises into sound effects, they are usually done through layering so the individual sound is no longer recognizable. Instead, the route this movie takes is to use a short, recognizable animal sound like a cat yowl or an elephant toot and use that exact same sound in place of a punch. It makes it sound like someone is just watching the scene with a sound effects board and they keep hitting the cat key over and over again alongside the jet engine and reverse jet engine. There’s even quite possibly a light saber sound effect at one point. All of this turned what was supposed to be a serious fight scene into an annoyance. Which is a shame, because the actual fight choreography is quite good and could have been more interesting if it wasn’t so distracted by the odd noises everything made. It had a few interesting moments where it tried to delve into some of the deeper backstory between the Zoanoids and the Guyver technology, but it was presented in such an uninteresting way that it was too late. There’s very little to recommend with this movie, though it is an interesting bit of trivia that the lead actor who played Sean went on to be a screenwriter for the first two X-Men movies, Watchmen, and the voice of Solid Snake in the Metal Gear franchise. Which is honestly the most interesting thing about this movie. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.