Friday, 11 May 2018

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Another Ending - Kamen Rider Genm vs Lazer

Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Another Ending – Kamen Rider Genm vs Lazer

First Kamen Riders Brave and Snipe had to face the revival of Lovelica and Saki. Then Para-DX and Poppy fought back against a mysterious Parado clone and the revenge of Dr Pacman's daughter Saiko Yaotome. Now the grand finale of the Kamen Rider Ex-Aid V-Cinema trilogy arrives with Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Another Ending – Kamen Rider Genm vs Lazer. Not only have the previous two films been building up to this confrontation, but Genm vs Lazer (for the time being anyway) also acts as the final chapter in the Ex-Aid story. As well as sharing a long and chequered rivalry, both Riders have also previously held the title role in their own spin-off specials. The Kamen Rider Genm special showcased the Legend Rider Gashats whilst also acting as a prequel to Heisei Generations, while the Kamen Rider Lazer Hyper Battle DVD saw the Bakusou Bike Rider return once more prior to his permanent resurrection by Kamen Rider Cronus.


With the powers of genius gamer M now in his possession, Kuroto Dan's master plan now enters its final stage. Unleashing an army of Zombie Gamer clones upon the city, he invites the people to take part in 'Zombie Chronicle', his latest game where players are tasked with surviving the undead invasion. Defeat a zombie and someone previously lost to the Bugster virus will be revived, but lose and it's game over.

As Kamen Rider Snipe heads out to help defeat the zombies, Kiriya Kujo heads off for a final showdown with the man that killed him all that time ago. But how can Kamen Rider Lazer stand up to the new powers of Kamen Rider Genm God Maximum Gamer Level 1,000,000,000? And there's also the matter of the revived Masamune Dan – who becomes Kamen Rider Cronus once again in an attempt to stop his son once and for all.


After one film dedicated to two characters whose stories were relatively done and another whose had plenty of untapped potential, there's a reassuring feeling going into Genm vs Lazer knowing that these two particular Riders already have fantastic chemistry together. Ever since the two faced off that fateful Christmas Eve way back in episode 12, the "enemies turned unlikely allies turned enemies again" relationship between Kuroto and Kiriya has been one of Ex-Aid's strongest character dynamics.

As if the previous two films hadn't proved it already, the Another Ending trilogy is by far and large Kuroto's story and it's only in this last part that we finally get to see him centerstage. While the film doesn't have anything quite as visually off the wall as him standing naked atop a waterfall, as far as dialogue and personality go somehow the only way still manages to be up. Iwanaga dials the mannerisms up to eleven as Kuroto schemes, sneers and proves his superiority at every turn - reminding everyone why the character is so popular and Genm is getting an S.H. Figuart of his Maximum Mighty X before the Ex-Aid's standard version has even been released. Between his plans, his costumes and his general demeanour, Kuroto is as always an absolute pleasure to watch onscreen at every turn and his move back into the role of antagonist was long overdue.


But while Kuroto will almost always overshadow any Rider he's paired up with, there's no denying that the usually straight-faced Kiriya is the perfect foil to the self-proclaimed games master. While Kamen Rider Snipe always seems to be the go-to guy for the no-nonsense "I work alone to protect everyone else" archetype, that same approach works equally well (if not better) for Kiriya too. The only difference being that Kiriya's shady personality combined with that trademark snark make him a much more dynamic lead to follow. Though his eventual resurrection may have undermined the impact of his death the character has gone from strength to strength since then, both in his post-humous appearances and when he finally came back to life in episode 34. Another Ending marks a brilliant end for the characters, and undoubtedly one of his strongest appearances in the entire series.

Although the focus is definitely on Kuroto and Kiriya it certainly isn't all about them, as all the key Riders make an appearance to ensure the film acts as a fitting conclusion. However more important than these is the return of Masamune, who like in the previous film gives off a much stronger and more interesting character than he ever did in the series itself. While the animosity between Masamune and his son are never fully explained, the conflict feels so much more personal here and far more engaging than the tiresome "heartless CEO" routine. Masamune comes off so strongly here that you actually feel some shred of sympathy for him when Genm utterly destroys him in battle, whereas before the prospect of such a thing happening sounds like the most satisfying scene Ex-Aid could ever do.


After the previous two films stayed relatively light on the "new suits with new transformation trinkets to sell toys from" side of things, with Genm vs Lazer its business as usual as the film introduces brand new forms for both its lead Riders. But while they might be fairly basic repaints, both work really well within the context of the narrative itself and have enough individual personality to separate them from the suits they were originally derived from. Of course Genm would want to assert his superiority with something as frankly ridiculous as God Maximum Gamer Level One Billion, and the Gashat proclaiming Kuroto's superiority as he transforms is just the icing on the cake. The only thing that could possibly be considered more over the top are the fight scenes, which goes as far to include Genm beating up Cronus using the actual moon as a weapon. Meanwhile Lazer's Level X form may immediately seem like a garish recolour of one of bthe show's most divisive forms, but it works surprisingly well both in motion and in the context of how the suit comes to be. The new suits work so well in the film that's bizarre to say that if anything it doesn't go far enough in coming up with more, as Kamen Rider Snipe could have really done with a new form to go with the "Bang Bang Tank" Gashat debuted here. There's no denying it would have been better placed in the Brave/Snipe movie rather than here, but you can't help but feel sorry for poor old Taiga when everyone keeps getting stronger forms than him.

The only real area that Genm vs Lazer seems to stumble is in its ending, which prefers to tell you a whole lot more about the whole situation and Kuroto's supposed end goal rather than actually show it.  The end result doesn't necessarily feel out of character, but it does make the nature of his plans even more complicated than they already seemed. Ex-Aid's whole stance on resurrections also continues to feel considerably murky, with some characters getting repeated resurrections while others are resigned to die in a way that almost suggests a "you can't save everyone" stance. While in many ways the medical and video game themes of Ex-Aid go hand in hand, this is one area where they've constantly felt at odds with each other and this film disappointingly doesn't do anything to resolve that.


Concluding the series on a stronger note than is usually expected from these V-cinema instalments, Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Another Ending – Kamen Rider Genm vs Lazer builds on the momentum set by the previous two parts to quickly establish itself as the highlight of the trilogy. Though perhaps a little too vague in some of its finer details, the strengths of both Kuroto and Kiriya are more than enough to ensure that their dynamic is seen through to a satisfying conclusion. Most of Ex-Aid's highlights can be attributed to these two characters sharing the screen together, so it only seems fitting that they are the ones to send it off in fitting fashion. Although this may finally be the end for Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, the game has and always will be forever.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now that Ex-Aid is finished, whats your thoughts of the series as a whole ? Its centanly in my top 10.

Anonymous said...

Where did you watch these? I'm looking everywhere for these.

Alex said...

Excite subs has all three :)

As far as my thoughts on the series as a whole, I thought it was a really fun series with some truly incredible characters. I found the final arc a bit lacking (Masamune was an incredibly dull villain) but as I say the character stuff was enough to get me through it. Wouldn't put it in my top 5 favourites but top 10 for sure.