Wednesday, 30 January 2013
I am at a crucial point in my zombie novel
I have been watching:
Kamen Rider Decade: All Riders vs DaiShocker - watched because I had to wait to see the Royale Rumble so I thought I'd watch one with superheroes. In a nutshell, Kamen Rider is a companion piece to Super Sentai (Power Rangers): both made by the same production company, shown in the same programming block, and both reinvented each year to shift a different set of toys to kids, with each new version of the show not necessarily designed to be compatible with the one before or after and often contradicting them outright, so there wasn't much crossover until this mid-year movie that pitched all the different Kamen Riders as inhabiting alternate Earths that are now crashing together causing the end of the human race across all realities unless they fight each other to decide whose world becomes the default template of all the others - I think... it's a bit sketchy on the details, but ultimately comes down to all the different superhero characters from 40 years of programming having a royal rumble to see who comes out on top.
So it's Crisis On Infinite Earths, basically, only it isn't, because roughly one third into the film the rumble is over and the tournament is revealed as a subterfuge, then there's some moping pretty boys, a bizarre Gackt cameo, and then no less than three final battles in the third act, the first of which features hundreds of comic book heroes and villains wailing on each other for twelve minutes while things explode behind them.
This statement may shock you but this film is daft as all heck, though it also holds together well because it is essentially a comic book crossover event in movie form as each and every character onscreen has an extensive backstory that is utterly superfluous to events unfolding and so is never mentioned beyond the odd vocal and visual reference only fans of the shows would spot, but all 25 heroes get their own moment in the sun and no-one comes away treated as an embarrassment or anachronism.
The director has a great eye for an arty shot here and there in what is essentially a zero-budget toy advertisement, but the upshot is a confidence that you're already watching so you don't care if things look cheap so let's just have the characters slapping each other - and they do. The fights aren't choreographed to link one huge stunt to the next as much as Sentai/Power Rangers tend to be and the impression of scraps is that of a circus act, but it's loud, fast-paced, eventful and short - a mere hour and change of your time - so it's hard to get too depressed at it not being The Avengers, though in some places it has a similar ambition in terms of scale that's let down only by the budget because there's still an impressive sense of multidimensional invaders laying waste to a city and a small band of disparate heroes (who have each had their own movie outings in the past) coming together to save the day in a huge fight, though the film trumps Avengers by having actual named supervillains in the mix rather than just a horde of deus ex aliens with a handy off switch. The KR films tend to be a bit inaccessible in isolation and often outright depressing, but the high concept of this one lends itself to more scant characterisation while still managing to make the story all about an estranged brother and sister getting over themselves - furthering the Avengers parallels by essentially being the Thor/Loki storyline right down to the villainous sibling being a sorcerer who casts the arrogant hero into a lower world to learn humility.
Kamen Rider Decade: All Riders vs DaiShocker is stupid, cheap and loud, but it has a good heart and is a pretty decent superhero film if you don't mind some cheap-looking suits for the monsters, as another thing in its favor is that it takes the older monsters and plants them right in the middle of the screen even if their suits are panto-level costuming - it's unashamedly silly and all-out to entertain you.