The Guyver ~ 1991, Screaming Mad George, Steve Wang, USA, Japan
The Guyver is a real roller coaster. When you first hear about it, you like “An America adaptation of a Japanese Ultraman style superhero? That sounds like it’s going to suck really, really aggressively.” But then you find out it has Jeffery Combs in it, and you’re like “Oh… Okay. That’s kinda cool.” Next, at five minutes into the film, you’re thinking “Whoa, this is awesome! How is this movie not huge?” But then, as the credits roll, you think “Oh. That’s why.” After that, you’re just really sad.
As you’ve no doubt guessed, The Guyver starts strong- really strong. Right away the movie does its best to win you over by putting its very best attribute front and center- that being film’s numerous and remarkable creature effects. Suitomation, animatronics, makeup effects, holy smokes, you guys, The Guyver does all of this, and it does it WELL. Rad monsters abound, and these are the sort of practical effects that Hollywood realy doesn’t want you to know are even possible. Too bad, Hollywood, The Guyver spilled the beans. We now know that not every movie has to be Mark Wahlberg standing in front of a green screen for three hours, you’re more than capable of making physical effects that actually look awesome, you just don’t want to, and I’m sick of your bullshit. Go to hell, and take your lowsy CG with you.
But I digress.
Although The Guyver goes off with a bang, it has absolutely no stamina, like a long distance runner that hauls ass at top speed for four minutes, topples over sideways, and never even comes within eyeshot of the finish line. One gets the feeling that directors Screaming Mad George and Steve Wang (Wait, really?) knew things weren’t quite panning out, and so from early on we see them attempting to compensate… With humor. The Guyver becomes progressively zanier as it lags on, but its exhaustingly short on legitimate comedy, and shitty jokes are a real ineffective consolation prize when you’re watching a film that should, by any and all logic, be epic as hell. And The Guyver is NOT epic. Films like this needs a big third act, something that would take place on a space ship, or hopping across rooftops trying to repel an alien invasion, Avengers style- what we get instead is a made-for-TV budgeted costume drama where the bulk of the action takes place in one of two abandoned warehouses, or in a secret, underground laboratory which looks very similar to an abandoned warehouse with a few computers scattered around. Your eyes will try to call in sick twenty minutes into this virtual snoozestraveganza of bland locations and disinteresting bullshit, and you won’t hold it against them. The Guyver gives us everything it has in the first ten minutes, and after that, it flounders about wildly.
It does have a virtual Sega Dreamcast of beloved genre actors, however, which helps. In addition to the aforementioned Jeffrey “Herbert West” Combs, here playing a scientist called “Dr. East” (cute), we also have Mark Hamill (who is NOT the lead), Michael Berryman, David Gale, and, most importantly, Jimmy Walker, of Good Times fame. Walker plays a character called Striker, who is, more or less, the comic relief, which means that he a shit load of screen time. At one point, in an example of truly desperate and shameless pandering, Striker busts out Walker’s classic sitcom catch phrase, “Dyno-mite,” which is really sad. It’s worth mentioning that the Striker character periodically raps (horribly), and also transforms into a monster which looks something like what you’d get if you fed Jar Jar after midnight.
Yeah… That’s him on the right… I’m not proud of myself for gathering this screen shot, by the way.
Other than the effects, and the wealth of familiar faces, absolutely nothing in The Guyver shines. The music is obnoxious, the characters are lame, and the actual lead actor is one of the blandest humans I’ve ever had the displeasure of knowing. In addition, the editing is actually kind of obnoxious, this is the first film in recorded history which has somehow engineered a transition effect even more objectionable than the oft reviled Star Wipe. I’d say the film is worth watching for that alone, and you’ll know it when you see it. Afterwards, however, slide this puppy back in the Netflix envelope from whence it came and part ways with it forever, as this is a classic cinematic wasted opportunity that you don’t need to sit through.