Monday 11 November 2013

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider x Super Sentai x Space Sheriff: Super Hero Taisen Z

Super Hero Taisen Z

Despite being hyped up as the crossover film fans had all been waiting for, last year's Super Hero Taisen wasn't actually very good. Sure it perhaps the biggest cast of superheroes ever, but story-wise the battle between Gokai Red and Kamen Rider Decade was a complete mess and offered viewers little more than some colourful eye candy. Still the huge crossover even must have been somewhat of a success as Toei has given them a second outing, throwing the newly revived Metal Heroes franchise into the mix for Kamen Rider x Super Sentai x Space Sheriff: Super Hero Taisen Z. With all of space and the universe now also at threat, let's just hope this outing is significantly better.

Super Hero Taisen Z Yoko Yellow Buster
Surprise protagonist

The story begins with the new Gavan (Geki Jumonji) arriving on Earth to destroy all magic on Earth to bring about universal peace, starting with Kamen Riders Wizard and Beast. After seeing Wizard protect innocent lives, Geki begins to question his orders - resulting in his expulsion from the Space Sheriffs by original Gavan Retsu Ichijouji. Regardless, he returns to Earth to team up with Wizard, Beast and Gai Ikari (Gokai Silver) to discover the true source of the magical chaos across the universe.

Meanwhile, Yoko (aka Yellow Buster) discovers a damaged robot while camping. After repairing it, Yoko is attacked by Shocker - the true villains behind the magical disturbances, who have now been reborn as "Space Shocker". With Space Shocker's plans nearing fruition, it will take the combined effort of the Super Sentai, Kamen Riders and Space Sheriffs to save both the Earth and the universe.

Super Hero Taisen Z Gai Ikari Gokai Silver
Gai Ikari, the walking hero phone-book

Although the release of Super Hero Taisen Z fell squarely within the run of both Kamen Rider Wizard and Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, not all of these characters are the stars of the show. In fact, the Kyoryugers play a very minimal role in things until the film's climatic mecha battle. Both Haruto and Kousuke have a sizable role in the film (although Haruto just kinda disappears midway through for no real reason), but this is shared with Gavan (who is arguably the lead protagonist), Gai and Yoko. It's a bit of an odd mix of characters, but limiting the main cast actually does the film a lot of favours. It allows the plot to be a lot more cohesive, while at the same time allowing exchanges between characters that have only briefly met (or even not at all) in their own respective shows.

Super Hero Taisen Z Metal Hero Keys Gokaiger
More wasted potential

The trade-off for this is that the team up sequences are a lot more fleeting than they were previously, featuring fewer characters and usually incorporating some sort of them. We get combinations such as the Liveman and Gingaman with Kamen Riders Amazon and Hibiki, as well as a pretty nifty team up of all the space-themed Riders/Rangers (plus Decade, who clearly didn't have a place to go). These are nice moments, but barely last at all and see over before they've even begun. The Gokaigers once again get a new set of keys to play with (this time being characters from the other Metal Heroes shows), only for them to be wasted on a 10-second Gokai Galleon Buster shot. Still, seeing the wonderful B-Fighter and B-Fighter Kabuto suits this way is better than not seeing them at all.

Super Hero Taisen Z Beet J Stag
Even in a  5 second cameo he manages to steal the show

Finally Wizard and the Kyoryugers come together to provide the big finale, which this time involves a rather impressive Rider kick using Kyoryuzin and the Wizardragon. If you were a fan of Go-BusterOh's Rocket Drill states in the last Super Hero Taisen, this is another one of those moments that you are going to love.

Although already a major step up from the original, Super Hero Taisen Z isn't without it's own problems. With the Kamen Riders and Super Sentai seemingly settled their differences (not that there were really any to begin with), it's the job of Space Sheriffs to provide a standoffish tint to the hero dynamic. Previous outings in his own movie and Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters have illustrated that Geki Jumonji isn't the easiest person to get along with, but surprisingly he actually seems the most level-headed one here. Seeing tokusatsu icon Kenji Ohba play Retsu Ichijouji as an incredibly by-the-book Galactic Union leader that's quick to consider sacrificing his home planet for the sake of universal peace is more than a little jarring. Granted I personally haven't seen a whole lot of the original Gavan, but he seems a far cry from the man I saw in the Gokaiger crossover and recent Space Sheriff movie.

Super Hero Taisen Z Kyoryuzin Wizardragon
How to make your mecha better: give it a giant dragon foot

Super Hero Taisen Z still isn't the perfect crossover film, but it is at the very least a good one. While it may have a pretty standard plot for Toei's big crossover films, the focus on a smaller cast of characters works well in its favour and means the story can be told without needless distractions by colourful action sequences featuring hundreds of heroes. On the other hand, these action sequences are one of the biggest draws to these crossovers in the first place. The balance is certainly getting there though, so perhaps a third outing may finally be the one to get it right.


Anonymous said...

I agree taisen z is miles better then taisen

this shows why gavan type g needs to get a show

Anonymous said...

I agree taisen z is miles better then taisen

this shows why gavan type g needs to get a show

Unknown said...

Yeah. This movie is definitely better than the first SHT. At least the story and action sequences got better this time around. But whoever is in charge of these films really needs to stop wasting the Gokaiger's "special Gokai-change" by having them take out the Gokai Galleon Buster and firing a modified final wave at a bad guy. Seriously, I screamed at my computer monitor when I first watched the movie. /sigh
I hope that the new Taisen film, "Kamen Rider Showa VS Kamen Rider Heisei feat. Super Sentai" or whatever its called, is decent. Im not getting my hopes up after the first 2 Taisen films. And I know the Gokaigers aren't going to be in this movie, so no more "imma change into a special toku hero and fire the cannon again" scene. Lol
Nice job in the review for SHT-Z in all seriousness though!

negaakira said...

i also agree super hero taizen z is able to balanced off the rider and sentai story