Sunday, 18 August 2013

Movie Review: Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Wizard & Fourze: Movie War Ultimatum

Kamen Rider Fourze & Wizard Movie Wars Ultimatum W OOO Accel Birth Nadeshiko Meteor

Though this is only the fourth entry in the series so far, the Kamen Rider Movie Wars films are rather mixed. While W and Decade's Movie War 2010 was a pretty good film with some weak elements, OOO and W's Movie War Core was pretty terrible all around. On the other hand, Fourze and OOO's Movie Wars Megamax is one of, if not the, best Kamen Rider films around. Even though that's a hard thing to follow up, it'll be interesting to see how Kamen Rider Wizard and Fourze's Movie Wars Ultimatum does on the grand scale of things.

We start the film with Phantom's Medusa and Phoenix working alongside demons known as the Akumaizer 3 (characters based on an old series by Kamen Rider creator Shotaro Ishinomori) on a machine that can create an infinite supply of monsters using four gates. However their plan needs an extra element added, so one of the Azumaizers, Eel, travels five years into the future. This is where our story begins...

Fourze Portion

Movie Wars Ultimatum Kamen Rider Club Gentaro Ryusei Tomoko J.K. Shun Miu
Club is back in session.

The Kamen Rider Fourze section of the film takes place five years after the events of the series, with the cast now having left school and taken on (rather impressive) jobs. Kengo is now a scientist working on a way to communicate with the Presenters, Yuuki is an astronaut, J.K. a journalist, Miu a model, Shun a professional American Football player, Tomoko a novelist and Ryusei an Interpol agent. Gentaro on the other hand has continued his mission to befriend everyone by becoming the latest teacher at Amanogawa High. But when a Zodiart appears and is manipulating students with their own special powers, the Kamen Rider club must reunite to face this final threat.

After an exciting opening fight sequence where we see Ryusei and Inga Blink (from the Fourze movie) take down a team of genetically-enhanced soldiers in South America, this part of the film gets off to a pretty slow start. Ignoring just how Gentaro has the qualifications to become a teacher in a mere five years after leaving High School (the same goes for the whole cast really, so it's best just to roll with it), the set-up of conflict between Gentaro and his four "Neo-human" students is lengthy enough without an added chase sequence that seems to go on forever. Once the Kamen Rider Club is rounded up and together again (including a new freshman member who doesn't do all that much until the very end), things really begin to pick up. We see a maturer Kamen Rider club kick ass together, with even Miu, Kengo and J.K. getting in on the fight action.

After an impressive middle section, it's a shame to see this third of the film fall into mediocrity once again. It's resolution concerning the Fourze Driver is touching and makes sense, but shoots itself in the foot a bit since the thing is needed once again five minutes later. The leader of the Neo-Human students, Saburo, also evolves into another classic Ishinomori hero - Inazuman. Unfortunately, his inclusion feels rather tacked on and kind of takes the spotlight away from the returning heroes.

All in all it's a semi-serviceable end to Kamen Rider Fourze, but certainly not the one the Kamen Rider Club deserved.

Movie Wars Ultimatum Inazuman
A fun cameo, but really necessary?

Wizard Portion

Movie Wars Ultimatum Kamen Rider Wizard & Poitrine
Bringing the style

Next the Kamen Rider Wizard section of the film takes us back into the present, with Haruto, Rinko, Shunpei and Koyomi arriving at the Akumaizer base to save the captured Gates. Uninterested in helping the Akumaizer trio, the Phantoms tell the group that they will need to enter the Gates' underworld in order to save them. Wizard dives in, with Rinko and Shunpei unwittingly following. Here they discover a world where the same day is repeated over and over, and the key to getting out lies with a mysterious magical girl that goes by the name of Poitrine.

Once again the film serves as a dumping ground to homage a past Ishinomori hero, only this time its Bishoujo Kamen Poitrine of the Toei Fushigi Comedy Series. While her appearance has much more plot relevance than Inazuman's inclusion, it's still difficult to care about this pretty obscure character who's suddenly been thrust into the limelight. The plot of needing Poitrine to choose to stop reliving the same day over and over is pretty unoriginal in itself, which only serves to bring the section down even more.

However Kamen Rider Wizard is a very flashy series by nature, it so certainly puts on a good show as far as the visuals go. Even a spectacularly bad CGI ostrich/chicken...thing can't detract from Wizard's flashy attacks and brilliant fight choreography. It also wins point for having Rinko be useful and actively engage monsters (since y'know, she's a cop and carries around a gun), something the series seems to avoid as much as it can.

Personally I found this section to be a little weaker than the Fourze one, but there wasn't a whole lot in it. It's low on plot but high on eye candy, so a pretty average score all-around.

Movie Wars Ultimatum Poitrine
Fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight...?

Movie Wars Ultimatum

Kamen Rider Fourze & Wizard Movie Wars Ultimatum W OOO Accel Birth Nadeshiko Meteor
*Obligatory "Haha Nadeshiko is riding Accel" comment*

Finally the Movie Wars Ultimatum section of the film sees the two Riders, along with Meteor and Nadeshiko (who turned up right at the end of the Fourze section) come together in order to stop the Akumaizer and save both Poitrine and the world itself. They are joined by the previous Neo-Heisei Riders W, Accel, OOO and Birth for an all-out attack with explosive results and brand new power-ups.

While the section does indeed include a total of eight Riders, don't expect a whole lot from them. Eiji makes a brilliant cameo saving Koyomi outside of the underworld and prompting the whole thing, but the Riders that appear inside the underworld are constructs rather than the actual Riders. This isn't explicitly stated, but I assume it's the case because a) they don't transform and b) W turns into FangJoker, which would require both Shotaro and Philip to be present at the battle. This is possibly due to the production team being unable to get all the actors back for a cameo/voice clips, and while it's nice to see all these Riders together they do offer little more than glorified backup.

Most of the portion itself is taken up by a tanker chase with the Riders pursuing on their bikes. This does put the "Rider" back in Kamen Rider, but the sequence itself is far, far too long with several bad camera angles. Wizard and Fourze get a really great fight sequence against the Azumaizers in their Cosmic States and Flame Dragon forms, before receiving all new power ups to battle the obligatory final CGI threat. These are "Dragon Rush style" and the long-winded "Meteor Nadeshiko Fusion States"...both of which are pretty underwhelming. The former is essentially a sneak preview of the underused All Dragon Style (with slightly different colouration) and the latter is Fusion States with rockets and skis. Despite the disappointing forms the action itself is top notch, provided you don't mind Toei's rather noticeable CGI in over-abundance.

So once again it's a portion that delivers on the flash, but has very little substance behind it. What does deserve to praised however is the brilliant twist ending to Poitrine, which saves the film from a horribly cliché ending and provides the best laugh of the whole thing.

Movie Wars Ultimatum Wizard Dragon Rush & Fourze Meteor Nadeshiko Fushion
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Final Thoughts

Movie Wars Ultimatum is no Megamax by any stretch of the imagination, but thankfully it's no Core either. None of the sections really stand out, each having just as many flaws as positives, if not more. Still, it's a perfectly fun way to kill two hours if you just want to see a crossover between two particularly flashy Kamen Riders, just don't go in expecting a satisfying conclusion to Fourze or a particularly engaging plot.

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