Ever watch a film and feel slightly dumber after watching it?
Well I finally checked out Guyver: Dark Hero, the sequel to The Guyver, and, let me tell ya, I’ve rarely felt this unsmart.
Based on an anime series and a manga, this live-action effort was a cheap Hollywood production and was released straight-to-video in the US back in 1994. With a non-star cast leading the way, this sequel follows a dude, Sean (David Hayter, not Mark Hamill this time, sadly), who can turn into some kind of ghoulish superhero as he discovers that an archeological dig going on over in Utah may have the answers to his past he’s been looking for. As it turns out, he’s not the only “Guyver” out there and the finding of a spaceship unveils more uncomfortable truths about his alter ego's origin. Now I know it’s cheaper for this kind of low-budget production to just film in one place, one set, but 95% of this film takes place in and around the archaeological dig, making it feel a little claustrophobic by the end. I guess all the money went towards those Guyver costumes and those crazy make-up/practical effects. Actually, those effects are easily the best part of this movie: they bring some welcome gore (the film is R rated, unlike its predecessor), some amusing silliness and a certain amount of creativity to the proceedings. The film itself, in spirit, is like a cross between Super Inframan, The Power Rangers, Godzilla and a really shitty American TV movie you might catch on Channel 5 on a Sunday night.
The acting throughout is abysmal, sometimes to good comedic effect, visually, the film looks bland and the editing is erratic. Had the scale of the film been blown up somewhat, perhaps Guyver: Dark Hero could have worked as a huge piece of mindless fun. This is the kind of project that’s so ludicrous on paper that, if you’re handed a small budget like this, retreating into a single main set is almost counter-productive. You really need to go all in with something like this. Up the scale radically, spend more time on the effects and tweak the script so it’s a little more self-knowing, though not too much as that was partly The Guyver's downfall. As it stands, this sequel has its fun moments, definitely, but it could have easily been a blast. Instead, we get a partly dull, partly entertaining goofy flick you can’t help but imagine being both hilarious and hugely amusing in the hands of a keener Japanese production. About halfway through, the film shows signs of losing its mind as more alien monsters are introduced and we get several mini fights between The Guyver and his uglier cousins. The plot also loses focus around the same time and seems to be making up things as it goes along, perhaps because it tried condensing too many things which are better explained in the anime into one relatively short movie. I'll give it that, though: the film did try to stay truer to the anime this time around.
Do I recommend Guyver: Dark Hero? Those who enjoy very dumb B-movies should check it out for shits and giggles, I’d say. Fans of the original show and/or the first film should also have fair amounts of fun with it. All in all, Guyver: Dark Hero has a good bunch of amusing, entertaining moments, despite its overall weak, underwhelming execution.