Monday 27 August 2018

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Heisei Generations FINAL: Build & Ex-Aid with Legend Riders

Kamen Rider Heisei Generations FINAL: Build & Ex-Aid with Legend Riders

It's only a matter of days until the premiere of Kamen Rider Zi-O, the latest Kamen Rider series that marks both the 20th anniversary and the end of the Heisei Era in the franchise. But when it comes to their movies, Toei perhaps jumped the gun a bit when it came to the last entry in the annual Movie War series. The 2017 crossover between Kamen Rider Build and Kamen Rider Ex-Aid was titled Kamen Rider Heisei Generations FINAL: Build & Ex-Aid with Legend Riders, and as the name suggested also brought along a few older faces. Also returning for this movie (complete with their original actors) are Kamen Rider Ghost, Kamen Rider Gaim, Kamen Rider Fourze and Kamen Rider OOO.

Build and Cross-Z meet the Riders of another worldEx-Aid and Build

After having a strange dream where Kamen Rider Build steals the powers of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, Sento Kiryu awakens to find himself in the possession of two new bottles and Touto under attack from strange creatures. After utilising the powers of the Doctor and Gamer bottles to defeat the Nebula Bugsters, the mysterious Left Kaiser arrives and Banjou is sucked in a portal - taking him to a parallel world where the Sky Wall never existed.

Soon Sento finds out the encounter with Ex-Aid wasn't just a dream after all, as Banjou encounters Emu and co on the parallel Earth whilst Parado has been stuck in the world of Build after pursuing the Rider that stole Ex-Aid's powers. However Ex-Aid's world is also under threat from the Right Kaiser. With the two Kaisers working together to assimilate the worlds and achieve immortality, both Riders must work together across parallel dimensions to save their worlds. And with the help of the Legend Riders, Ryuga Banjou will learn what it truly means to be a Kamen Rider.

Kaisei MogamiBi-Kaiser

Continuity is something that Kamen Rider crossover movies have been handling relatively well since the Movie War series began way back in 2010, however none of them have excelled at it quite as well as Heisei Generations FINAL does right from the get-go. As has seemed to be the case with many of Kamen Rider Build's plot points within the series itself it quickly becomes apparent that even the most throwaway of moments have been leading towards a greater purpose. Not only does the opening of the movie follow straight on from the after credits sequence to Kamen Rider Build: True Ending, but it also in turn brings context to Build's other pre-show appearance back in Ex-Aid episode 44.

Given the fact that Kamen Rider Build takes place in a Japan torn into three, it's no surprise to see Heisei Generations FINAL comfortably establish it as a parallel world - a common sci-fi trope yet one that can easily be disastrous if not handled well. However the film's setup of a villain looking to combine the two universes flows excellently, which again is partly due just to how well it adheres to details present in both Build and the previous Heisei Rider shows. Though Kaisei Mogami's backstory mostly comes from the Build side of things, his relationship with Takumi Katsuragi and the parallels between the Build and Kaiser systems, the "Rider World" Mogami is equally as notable simply for being a member of Foundation X. Despite a very brief cameo in the Kamen Rider Brave special the mysterious organisation that helped tie together the early post-Decade series has been absent for a long while, so what better time for them to resurface than in a big crossover (prematurely) marking the end of Heisei era.

Takeru and OnariGentaro and JK return

As is usually the case with these things two worlds means a divided cast, with Heisei Generations FINAL playing about with mixing things up between the Build and Ex-Aid characters. Banjou is paired off with Emu and the rest of the characters that inhabit the parallel world, while Sento works alongside Parado on his own Earth. There's always a joy to be had in watching the casts of different series play off of each other, but what makes FINAL's attempts particularly interesting is how the more hostile Banjou and Parado come to see their respective partners in both Build and Ex-Aid. Initial hostility gives way to some interesting developments regarding Katsuragi's earlier actions, which again just goes to show how well oiled this film is. It makes you wonder whether all the earlier Build cameos were always done with this film's plot in mind, or whether the writers just worked exceptionally hard to cover each and every loose end there was.

However a crossover between Build and Ex-Aid was a given, so like their appearance in the first Heisei Generations it's the inclusion of the Legend Riders that the fans are here for. Unlike it's predecessor FINAL has all five veteran Riders reprise their roles both in and out of suit, the main draw this time around being the long-awaited reunion between Eiji/Kamen Rider OOO and Ankh. Unfortunately this isn't the future union previously promised by Movie War Mega Max but the scene certainly proves no less emotional, and not just because these two characters and actors haven't been seen together onscreen since 2011. While the other Legend Riders' appearances aren't quite as significant, they all still fit comfortably into this story and the progression of their own respective timelines. It makes sense that a Space God Kouta would be alerted to the unification of two Earths, the Fourze cast reappear in their post-series Movie Wars Ultimatum roles and Takeru continues to build upon the rapport he made with the Ex-Aid cast in the previous film. With the returning Riders also comes a number of other familiar faces, both friend and foe. Whether it be JK and Otsugi's return, the battles against both Greeed and Zodiart clones or simply Onari's flawless handling of the ever-erratic Kuroto, Heisei Generation FINAL never wastes a moment with its cameos and supporting cast no matter how insignificant they may seem to the bigger picture.

Eiji and AnkhKouta's new hair

The biggest impact of the Legend Riders' appearance though is definitely the effect it has on Banjou. As anyone watching Kamen Rider Build will tell you Ryuga's development over the course of the series has been excellent, but the journey he goes through in this movie manages to both enhance through the wider world of Kamen Rider. Elements such at the appearance of the Kaiser System and some of the very late game developments in the show tie Kamen Rider Build as a show particularly close to Heisei Generations FINAL, but the wisdom and inspiration Ryuga takes away from the other Riders in addition to Sento is one of the film's more subtle moments of greatness.

Of course everything must always end on a big budget fight scene with plenty of explosions and form changes, and Heisei Generations FINAL certainly has that in spades. The film does well to not shoehorn any movie exclusive forms into the narrative, simply dropping in early introductions to Build's PhoenixRobo and RabbitTank Sparkling forms to great effect. And while there's sadly no six Rider transformation sequence to speak of, their eventual team does bring along a fantastic motorcycle sequence of which the likes of hasn't been seen since Movie Wars Ultimatum back in 2012. Though Build's early episodes have done fairly well in this regard the lack of proper motorcycle action is something that's plagued Kamen Rider for sometime, so for the movie to have a centrepiece dedicated to it really helps set it apart. Following that you Build and Ex-Aid take on Bi-Kaiser in a superb showdown, while the other Riders each get the spotlight to showcase their various forms in suitable fashion.

Greeed revivalOnari handles Kuroto

Other than a few notable blips the Movie War series have been an almost consistently great range of Kamen Rider crossovers, but with Kamen Rider Heisei Generations FINAL: Build & Ex-Aid with Legend Riders it somehow once again manages to raise the bar. Featuring a clear direction on how to utilise previous moments' in the respective series and the parallel world nature of Build itself, the film gets off to an extremely strong start even before tackling the inclusion of the Legend Riders. Though it might not be the finite ending fans wanted to see the reunion of Eiji and Ankh is something Kamen Rider OOO fans have been due a long time, with the other returning Riders playing their parts to great effect even if their biggest significance is simply having that particular actor return. Zi-O and Build's Heisei Generations FOREVER instalment already has some big shoes to fill, because if Heisei Generations FINAL had been marking the end of the Heisei era it would have been a pretty spectacular entry to go out on.


Anonymous said...

Do you think they will bring every previous heisei actors in Zi-O ? Good review by the way.

Artriven said...

Can't wait to read your Build's review

Anonymous said...

Did you notice that the latest movies have been acting like a epilogue to early heiseis riders ? Like - Yongo-555, Gorider-Blade and now Final-OOO

Anonymous said...

This is by far my favourite rider movie and I actually ended up getting into it more than Inifity War earlier this year. If there's going to be more of these crossover films, here's hoping they're at least half as good as this one!