Monday 24 August 2015

Movie REVIEW: Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3

Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3

Back in 2009 when Kamen Rider Decade: All Riders vs. Dai-Shocker was released a giant Kamen Rider crossover was a pretty big deal. The film itself wasn’t the best, but it was the largest gathering of the franchise’s heroes yet and that certainly held its weight in spectacle. But since then these crossovers have become commonplace, even briefly roping in the Super Sentai and Metal Heroes franchises for Super Hero Taisen and Super Hero Taisen Z. A few of these offerings have still managed to hold their own in terms of spectacle, but more often than not these films have suffered greatly from the law of diminishing returns. After last year’s Heisei Rider vs. Showa Rider: Kamen Rider Taisen feat. Super Sentai, Toei are continuing on the Kamen Rider focus with Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3. The draw this time however is perhaps not the mass assembling of Riders, but the first onscreen appearance of a lost piece of Kamen Rider history.

Shocker take over
This doesn't look familiar at all.

In 1973 Kamen Riders 1 and 2 successfully defeated Shocker and their Great Leader once and for all – at least, that’s what should have happened. However shortly after the fall of Shocker’s leader the double Riders came face to face with the evil organisation's strongest creation – Kamen Rider 3. With the defeat of the Double Riders in the past, history begins to unravel and in 2015 Kamen Rider Drive suddenly finds himself in a very different world. A world under Shocker’s rule.

Here the double Riders are remembered as enemies of the state, and the Riders that succeeded them have mostly been brainwashed into subservience. After Shinnosuke is reminded of their real world by Kiriko, he teams up with the few Riders left to discover how Kamen Rider 3 is tied up in all of this and put history back on its proper course.

Time travelling antics which lead to an alternate reality where Earth is under Shocker's rule? Where have I seen that before? After penning the previous three Super Hero Taisen movies writer Shōji Yonemura returns again for GP - but has seemingly run out of original ideas since he's revisiting the exact same concept he used four years ago in OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let's Go Kamen Riders. In concept GP is largely derivative of his previous works in the last five years ago, mashed together with the level of regard he had for logical time travel when writing Kamen Rider Kabuto. No real explanation of how certain characters retain their memories or how others even exist in this alternate reality (looking at you Kamen Rider V3), cherrypicking what's wiped and what isn't at the inevitable reset point - it's all the things you hope would have some sort of internal logic to them but never do. Okay so the V3 thing is pretty nitpicky (especially since these films almost always have Black and RX running around at the same time), but the finale is a particularly sore point just because it ends on pretty huge unresolved plot point to be resolved with a PAY PER VIEW MINI SERIES. It leaves the movie on the sourest of notes, taking away most of the charm GP has as a standalone feature.

Kyoichiro Kuroi, Kamen Rider 3
Who's that guy?!

But the main draw here of course is Kamen Rider 3, who before this had only previously appearance in the five-page manga Kamen Rider 3 vs. General Black in 1972. Of course he’s looking a little different than he did way back then – with a newly updated suit, a new set of wheels and even a new identity in the form of Kyoichiro Kuroi. Rider 3 is a pretty interesting character in that like his predecessors he managed to avoid Shocker's brainwashing, however unlike them he still chose to remain loyal to them. As expected the film is about making the character look as awesome as possible, actually managing to get through to the entire film without any real defeats in terms of fight sequences. His development as a character is typically straightforward, mostly revolving around an obsession to be the best and not breaking out of that until he's beaten at something. As the circumstances of the film don't exactly leave things open for a grand return, whether Kamen Rider 3 will make any returns in the future is up in the air. But even if he is confined to this single movie (well, and the cameo appearance in the Drive/Ninninger crossover) that won't necessarily be a bad thing - the hype surrounding him provided a interesting shakeup, and his inclusion makes an otherwise bland movie at least worth the watch.

The Kamen Rider Grand Prix
Kamen Rider Kart GP is go!

As the name Super Hero Taisen GP suggests, the centrepiece of this film is an elaborate race between Drive and a random assortment of brainwashed Kamen Riders (now dubbed Shocker Riders). The whole set up for this event is incredibly contrived (and predictably what ultimately leads to Shocker’s downfall), but actually comes out as one of the most fun parts of the movie. It’s silly and doesn’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense, but is a much more unique novelty than all the Riders battling monsters in an abandoned quarry. However this is the scene that almost immediately follows the race, so that does somewhat dampen the little originality the film had going for it.

Garren & Zeronos
Secondary Riders sticking together

But one of the biggest draws of the Taisen movies is the Rider alumni reprising their roles, and Taisen GP has a rather interesting bunch on offer. Returning this time around are Tetuso Kurata (Kotaro Minami/Kamen Rider Black), Yuchi Nakamura (Yuto Sakurai/Kamen Rider Zeronos), Kousei Amano (Sakuya Tachibana/Kamen Rider Garren) and Kento Handa (Takumi Inui/Kamen Rider Faiz). It’s a great balance of primary and secondary Riders, which fits in well with the whole plotline about there only being a rag tag group of Riders left fighting Shocker. The film also has the best handling of Kotaro playing both Black and Black RX since Kamen Rider Decade – which says a lot really when you think that even here it happened in a “this is happening simply because it can” fashion. Though Garren has the only returning actor all four Blade Riders are all included in a rather nice way, even if the Garren and Blade helmets are looking rather ugly these days due to their clear sections being switched out for translucent yellow ones. The only other Riders with particularly notable appearances are Riders 1 and 2, and at a stretch V3 and Riderman. Gaim in particularly seems to have been relegated to cannon fodder status quickly, considering only last year he was leading the Heisei Riders in battle against the Showa Riders.

Oh, and the Ninningers are here too for no other reason then to make the “Super Hero” part of the title more legitimate and sell a few more toys. Like the ToQgers (and Kyoryu Red)’s appearance in the previous movie, the Ninningers pretty much come out of nowhere and have little more to offer than the service of a giant robot – because once again Kamen Rider J proves not good enough for a giant battle in a Kamen Rider movie. The Tridoron-turned-mecha Shurikenjin component is a pretty cool exclusive for the movie, but would probably have been better placed in the Drive/Nininnger crossover rather than here.

Shurikenjin Tridoron
The best part is there isn't even a toy of this.

All in all Super Hero Taisen GP is yet another mediocre crossover masquerading as some big event. The onscreen introduction of Kamen Rider 3 certainly earns it a place in Kamen Rider history and provides the film with some notable moments, but other than that it’s the same old recycled storyline that centres around tent pole fight scenes. On pure entertainment value it (like all other Taisen films) has some merit, but for a “Shocker rewriting history” crossover film you’re better off checking out Let’s Go Kamen Riders – not only did it do it first, but it also did it better.


mikoarc said...

Yes, this movie is boring, since the crossover always filmed per year, it become a usual film plus the story line wasn't excited. For me the score is 30/100.

Anonymous said...

Another awful entree to an already terrible series? Not shocked.

Dukenimama said...

Secondly rider....? Just wondering if Garren is considered so, thought Chalice is secondary rider of Blade...

Alex said...

I don't really put any thought in who is considered the secondary Rider of Blade. In the end it's all opinion and the point I'm trying to get across here is simply that the returning cast isn't just made up of title series Riders.

Paolo1350 said...

I'm surprised you didn't give this a 1/5 rating. And I thought last year's crossover story was incoherent. At least last year we had an interesting premise to look forward while this one has no redeeming one at all.

Brandon said...

Personally, I think the film would have been better if they kept Taki Kazuya as #3 and had the plot revolve around Hongo having to face off against his old friend. Well at least the upcoming movie about #1 looks like it can redeem the idea of a KR movie.