Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Zi-O NEXT TIME: Geiz, Majesty

Kamen Rider Zi-O NEXT TIME - Geiz, Majesty

No matter how finite a Kamen Rider series ending seems these days, a V-Cinema sequel is pretty much a certainty. After Kamen Rider Build quickly restored the memories of its cast in its NEW WORLD duology, it's now time to see where the characters of Kamen Rider Zi-O are headed next in Kamen Rider Zi-O NEXT TIME: Geiz, Majesty. When we last saw the gang Tokiwa Sougo had used the powers of Oma Zi-O to rewrite time, creating a world where he and his friends live an ordinary life in the present. As its title suggests, the film focuses on Myokoin Geiz as well as featuring guest cameos from a number of secondary Kamen Riders.

Myokoin GeizGeiz suffers a career-ending injury

It's September 2018, and Myokoin Geiz is gearing up for his next big judo tournament. His friends Sougo and Tsukuyomi are by his side to cheer him on, as are fellow students Heure and Ora. But when Geiz suffers a career-ending injury during the tournament, he's forced to give up his dreams of becoming a champion. At the same time, Geiz is also approached by White Woz - who presents him with a RideWatch and Driver, urging him to become a saviour once more.

Crossing paths with Riders from across history as well as the world-hopping treasure sniper Daiki Kaito, Geiz slowly inches closer to taking up the mantle of a Kamen Rider once more. Why are White Woz and Diend here? And why is Geiz being told that his best friend is destined to become a ruthless overlord?

White WozDaiki Kaito

Given how blasé the Build V-Cinemas were about undoing large parts of the series ending it seemed reasonable to expect Kamen Rider Zi-O to do exactly the same, especially since the 20th anniversary series had a much looser approach to continuity. But immediately Geiz, Majesty manages to defy all expectations by actually showing a great deal of respect for the new status quo. Rather than try to tear huge chunks of it down to bring back the memories of core cast members, the film instead takes the opportunity to tie up a few loose ends whilst fleshing out the new versions of these characters. Its first half is almost purely an exercise in world-building, giving Geiz (a character who despite developing over the course of the show didn't have a whole lot to work with outside the conflict) a backstory and purpose - with only hints of the past stringing the story along. While this often makes Geiz, Majesty a slow burn, it gives the often frenetic Zi-O a much steadier flow as well as the assurance that there may actually be more stories to tell in this part of the Kamen Rider universe.

Had they not been involved prior in time-travelling shenanigans and post-apocalyptic futures, a high school would have been the perfect setting for Zi-O, because it’s surprising how very little any of the characters have changed despite this wildly different setting. Sougo is still the happy go lucky dreamer he always was, but now he shares this present day life with both Geiz and Tsukuyomi. While Geiz might not be actively opposing Sougo the same way he did before, his once murderous intent has mellowed into a healthy rivalry between the two friends. He doesn’t understand Sougo’s dream and berates him for it, but underneath that tough exterior is very clearly a man who believes in and would do anything for his friends. Tsukuyomi remains the arbitrator between the two, and though it’s hinted that Geiz has feelings for her that doesn’t look to be reciprocated (yet), so the character retains an independence that the Build ladies weren’t so fortunate to keep. Even the Time Jackers, whose change from time meddling villains to adjacent high school clique (plus weirdly sinister teacher) is undoubtedly the biggest amongst the cast, don’t feel that different. Although their high school lives revel in all the cliches attached to that particular genre, both the story and characters fit into a place nicely. A cast being this malleable can often be a sign of underdevelopment, but this transition feels so seamless it makes you wonder if all this had been carefully planned from the start. The parallels between Sougo as "the overlord" and Geiz as "the saviour" are drawn much more closely here, and Geiz as a judo enthusiast is a particularly clever way of drawing out those qualities in this down to Earth setting - both to audience and Geiz himself.

The Time JackersZi-O Riders Reunited

The appearance of White Woz and Geiz’s progression to a saviour was one of the more interesting developments in Zi-O, but the story really struggled with realising it - resulting in it quickly becoming overshadowed and some concepts being outright dropped. As such it’s great to see White Woz back again here in such a commanding position, and Zi-O is the kind of series that needs minimal sci-fi trickery to comfortably pull it off. Though still somewhat vague the idea of Geiz as the saviour is explored a little more here, especially with how the definition of one differs between Geiz and Woz. Keisuke Watanabe really amps up the sinister this time around, continuing to create a notable divide between the two versions of his character and raising even more questions about exactly what Woz is. Diend is a lot of fun as he always is, acting as something of a catalyst for Geiz despite simply being into the plot for his own typically selfish desires.

Another thing Geiz, Majesty does exceptionally well is how well it integrates its guest cast into the story. Being a Zi-O product cameos from past Riders was pretty much obligatory, with the film including appearances from Akira Date/Kamen Rider Birth, Ryu Terui/Kamen Rider Accel and Masato Kusaka/Kamen Rider Kaixa on top of Kaito's own larger involvement in the plot. Though the obvious route would be to just bring them in as part of Diend's powers, it's actually only Kusaka who only turns up this way (and surprisingly cooperative at that). With Akira and Ryu their day jobs prove just as important as their status as Riders, and both are a big influence on Geiz's next steps in life following his injuries. As great as some of the big name cameos and continuations in the Zi-O series were, this more nuanced approach feels like it has much wider implications for the franchise as a whole. The early entries in the Movie War series perfectly captured the idea of a shared Rider universe where characters from different series could easily run into each other, and now this film is reinforcing it. Not bad from a series that was throwing continuity and coherency in the air as if it didn't matter not so long ago.

Ryu TeruiAkira Date

Though the majority of the costumed action doesn’t come until the very end Geiz, Majesty certainly doesn’t  struggle in building hype for it - with all four of Zi-O’s Riders getting in on the action. It might all be centred around Geiz but getting to see Kamen Rider Tsukuyomi properly in action is a real treat, and cements the fact that she should have been given a Driver in the show far, far sooner. Geiz does get some of the spotlight with his new Majesty form though, which does have a certain charm to it despite essentially being Grand Zi-O done on a fraction of the budget. The RideWatches strewn across the body might look ridiculous, but then vibrant colours, giant shoulders and gold cape definitely give it that majestic quality. A culmination of secondary Riders isn’t something that’s ever been done before in this fashion so it’s quite the spectacle, with that final attack still having that anniversary charm that’s truly a joy for any Rider fan to behold.

Of course the same can be said for the monster suits as well, with the Another Riders getting another moment in the spotlight with Another Diend. Diend is notable among Riders for having already had a monster variant in the form of Chinomanoko Diend, who’s not been forgotten here as the heads are largely identical. The rest of the suit is much more straightforward Rider version though, pairing nicely with the Another Decade seen at the end of the series proper. With Another Decade having been the final adversary of the series, it was only fitting that Diend also get his due here as well.

Another DiendGeiz Majesty Time Break

Kamen Rider V-Cinemas have tended to be very hit or miss in recent years and after some controversial Build entries it was easy to expect the worst here. However Kamen Rider Zi-O NEXT TIME: Geiz, Majesty isn’t just a great film - it also feels like an assurance that series might start being written with these releases in mind. Rather than undoing Zi-O’s ending it enhances it, developing the cast in this brand new setting and working earnestly towards new stories that could be told in it. For once, the tease of a sequel doesn’t seem that off-putting.


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Alex, what is your favorite V-Cinema? Mine is Geiz Mejesty!

Alex said...

It might actually be this for me too! I do like Accel and Eternal as well, but I haven't watched either of them in years.

123movies said...

I saw the movie on IBM it nice movie