Monday, 9 March 2020

Movie REVIEW: Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!

Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!

With Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger being the fourth time around for the whole dinosaur Sentai thing, it's gotten to the point where there's naturally going to be some repetition no matter how different the stories are. Two things are almost certain – there's going to be a brand new reason for the dinosaurs' extinction, and at some point the team are going to come face to face with these prehistoric creatures. For Ryusoulger both these things are revealed in their summer movie, Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!. Released as part of the annual double-bill alongside Kamen Rider Zi-O: The Movie: Over Quartzer, Ryusoulger's first big screen outing is one with little bearing on the series as a whole but a nice little addition to the history of the Ryusoul Tribe.

Extinction of the dinosaurs!Yuno, a traveller from the past

65 million years ago, the battle between the Druidons and the Ryusoul Tribe wages on as a meteorite of apocalyptic proportions approaches Earth. In the present day, a trip to the museum proves especially eventful when a fossil cracks open and leads to the resurrection of Yuno – a member of the Ryusoul Tribe from all those years ago.

As a Minosaur attack thrusts them back in time, the Ryusoulgers clash with Valma – an inventor and Yuno's father who has become convinced that the only way to save their tribe is survival of the strongest. While Koh faces off against the creator of the Gaisoulg armour, the other dino knights unlock the power Kishiryuzin to prevent the Earth from certain destruction.

Ryusoulgers in the pastThe original Gaisoulg

It's a shame that any Super Sentai summer movie only has half an hour to work with, but when it's one as big on ideas as Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!! the flaws in this rather unfortunate format particularly show. Straight from the get-go it’s blessed with almost the perfect setting, and the film’s brief introduction certainly shows a lot of promise. A large scale conflict between human and Druidon, taking place on both the ground level and with mecha. But as it moves into the present day and prepares the cast for the story ahead, it immediately shows signs of struggling. Disservice to the extra Rangers in these summer movies is common but Canalo is completely written out almost immediately, not even appearing for any of the battle scenes later on. Ui is also written out in similar fashion, but given the show’s general bad handling when it comes to her that at the very least doesn’t feel all that surprising.

That isn’t to say the film immediately writes itself off though, in fact it’s quite the opposite. The Druidon aspect is almost immediately cast aside other than the appearance of a plot-convenience Minosaur, and instead the film’s main villain comes from within the Ryusoul Tribe itself. From the very beginning in Super Sentai Strongest Battle Gaisoulg was cemented as a fan-favourite part of Ryusoulger, and here the movie is bringing in the armour’s creator as the bad guy. Sadly the placement of the movie in the series’ timeline means the two appearances of Gaisoulg have next to no bearing on each other, but more time spent with that great suit design is never a bad thing. Valma’s mentality for his tribe’s preservation is also an interesting element to explore, creating friction within the Ryusoul tribe and giving them more depth than just being the heroes of the story.

ValmaRyusoulgers on location

Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!! has so much great material to work from, but does the bare minimum with it to ensure that the plot moves from A to B as quickly as possible. Ultimately the threat of extinction from the “larger than history recorded” asteroid is the more pressing concern of the film, making Valma a very shallow film who has his basic motivation and then little else to flesh that out. Given the running time there was never very much the film could have done with him, but as it stands he’s little more than simply an obstacle to overcome.

While the series may have done a reasonably good job of not constantly making Koh the central focus, when it comes to Ryusoulger’s movie outing there’s no question of who the real hero of the story is. While other four Ryusoulger’s are off trying to stop the asteroid, Koh is still down on the Earth having a one on one fight with Valma. There are elements to like about this - not only does actor Hayate Ichinose do a brilliant job in the role but the time-twisting aspect of Koh introducing to the Ryusoul Tribe the very values he was taught himself is a nice touch of causality. On the other hand, it greatly reduces Yuno’s interest as a character when she spends most of the time monologuing about how wonderful he is. Omitting Canalo from the film was bad enough, but Towa and Banba barely register in it either.

But if there's anything that's going to save this film from being simply untapped potential, it's the fact that it's easily one of the best-looking summer movies the franchise has ever put out. Kazuya Kamihourichi's visuals were immediately one of Ryusoulger's biggest selling points, but on the big screen the director is really able to go wild and make this movie feel like so much more than just a slightly longer episode. For the sections taking place in the past Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!! features a huge amount of unique scenery and location work, immediately creating a sense of uniqueness to set it apart from the primarily city-dwelling show. On top of stunning backdrops that show off just how diverse Japan's natural beauty is, most of these outdoor sequences feature wide open spaces to depict large scale battles with panning camera shots. Even though the film features Toei's typically terrible CGI dinosaurs, the sequence is brief enough not to completely stand out and still a cut above some of their previous efforts in that department.

KishiryuOh goes wildKishiryuzin


The Ryusoulger's final battle against Valma's forces looks great, but when it comes to special effects and choreography it pales in comparison to the film's earlier mecha fight. The fight itself might not have all that much bearing on the film, but as purely visual experience it definitely stands out as one of the film's highlights. The series boasted impressive mecha action from episode one, but here we see KishiryuOh leap across a series of buildings to strike a mid-air blow, landing into a further flip and continuing to attack. Other Super Sentai series would pull all this off with a quick bit of CGI, but Ryusoulger fully embraces the medium and realises it with impressive wire work and detailed miniatures. It’s a shame that this fight was done with the KishiryuOh suit, because despite a strong debut in the opening sequence the movie-exclusive Kishiryuzin doesn’t really compare. The suit itself may be nice, but its struggle against the oncoming asteroid just doesn’t compare given how reliant on CGI it is.

Whereas the series ultimately struggled because it didn’t have enough content to fill a year-long series, Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!! suffers from the opposite in that it had too much content to fill a half-hour movie. The origins of the Ryusoul tribe, their conflict against the Druidons, the creation of the Gaisoulg armour or even the extinction of the dinosaurs are all topics that could have adequately filled the movie on their own, but when uncomfortably crammed into one none of them have the time they need to really develop. But what it lacks in depth it more than makes up for in visuals, making it a solid piece of entertainment even if it struggles to leave a lasting impression after the credits roll. In a perfect world Ryusoulger could have really shined, but in this one this movie is sadly another middling entry for another middling Super Sentai series.

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