Friday 14 December 2018

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Amazons the Movie: The Last Judgement

Kamen Rider Amazons the Movie: The Last Judgement

One of the most interesting Kamen Rider success stories of the past few years has undoubtedly been that of Kamen Rider Amazons - the Amazon Prime exclusive web series that not only spawned a second season, but also went on to have both an edited television run in Japan AND found its way onto international versions of the streaming platform. However everything must eventually come to an end, and this year Toei boldy decided to forgo their usual "Super Hero Taisen" Spring movie in favour of a feature-length finale entitled Kamen Rider Amazons the Movie: The Last Judgement. With the second season's story effectively over, this movie returns the to the core of the series – finally bringing fans the climactic showdown between Haruka Mizusawa/Kamen Rider Amazon Omega and his long time rival Jin Takayama/Kamen Rider Amazon Alpha.

(This post is also part of a cross-promotion with - please visit the site and discuss your thoughts on the movie at the dedicated discussion thread there!)

Sometime after Chihiro's death and the events of the show's second season, the 4C extermination squad continue to hunt down Haruka. Following an encounter where Mizuki reveals herself to be protecting her friend all along, both Haruka and Mizuki are washed away and find themselves at a mysterious complex. Here Amazons live peacefully on diet solely of vegetables, protected by Einosuke Mido – a man with an Armlet and Amazons Driver of his own.

Though Haruka is welcomed with open arms, it isn’t long before Mido's complex is revealed as a brand new scheme for humans to gain control over Amazons. With both the Nozama Peston Service and 4C brought into the fight, Haruka must not only face off against Kamen Rider Neo Alpha, but also against Jin Takayama for the last time.

Though in many ways season two proved to be far more thought-provoking than its predecessor, it’s also fair to say that it may not have been the Kamen Rider Amazons sequel fans expected. After the first season established its core cast and seemed to promise their story would continue on, season two then went and instead focused on predominantly new characters. The old favourites were still there, but they very much played a supporting role and it was more about how their actions had lead to this. Season two did however wrap itself up rather succinctly, leaving The Last Judgement to go back to those surviving original cast members and make it almost entirely about them. Certain events and deaths may be referred back to but in some ways it also feels like the film is trying to forget about that second season, symbolised in acts like Haruka’s Neo Amazons Driver being completely destroyed as well as Jin’s blindness being cured with little question other that “Oh Jin, didn’t you used to be blind?”. Given Amazons is a series that takes away all the flash and gimmickry Kamen Rider builds itself on these days it makes sense for the film to take things back to basics, but it does make the film exist in this weird plain where it directly follows on from what preceded it but at the same time somehow also feels detached.

That would all be fine though if The Last Judgement wasn’t just so damn boring. Even the film itself constantly references the fact that everything ends with Jin and Haruka, yet the bulk of its hefty 100 minute running time is spent meandering around a brand new villain and his Amazon farm - a newly proposed measure to solve the world’s growing meat shortage. The whole concept is just so unabashedly absurd that it should have been a delight, but the film doesn’t absolutely nothing interesting with it and just offers a slightly new twist on the same old “Amazons that don’t want to fight” idea that’s already been done repeatedly. Elements that provoke the most intrigue, such as the whole cult-like display of Mido’s “children” and the way they worship a tied up Jin like some sort of god, are almost entirely brushed aside. The film can’t even explain how Jin came to be in Mido’s possession, let alone why he’s no longer blind and in a much fitter state than when we last saw him.

Maybe this is because The Last Judgement has a new character to sell the audience on, which seems even sillier when you remember that Amazons doesn't have a truckload of merchandise to shift in the same way that the mainstream Kamen Rider series do (unless a lone S.H. Figuarts release counts?). But again Kamen Rider Neo Alpha is just painfully generic - an attempt to go one step bigger in a series where "less is more" rings true more than ever. A giant chainsaw gun is one of those things that would be ridiculously cool in another series, but in Amazons just feels completely out of place. And as much as I want to praise Neo Alpha for putting the ghastly Neo Omega suit out of commission once and for all, Mido is a one-note movie villain with very little substance outside of a nifty suit design. The same can also be said of the other characters the movie introduces, with the exception of perhaps Muku whose involvement is particularly integral to Haruka's development. Seeing both the 4C and Nozama guys again is great, but even their involvement feels primarily intended to draw the running time out even further.

But in spite of all the boredom and disappointment the story element yields, the main event thankfully doesn’t disappoint. The most important thing The Last Judgement needed to deliver on was a satisfying final showdown between Jin and Haruka, especially after many fans were deterred by the season two climax being left to their imaginations. The Last Judgement gives the the pair the final battle that they needed, but the fact its prefaced by Alpha returning and dispatching Neo Alpha in typically brutal fashion makes it all the sweeter. Jin and Haruka’s final showdown isn’t especially extravagant, but has that raw personal quality that is needed to be a success. It perfectly captures two man that have had to discard what little humanity they had left for what they believe in, and though not quite as poignant as Chihiro’s story was in season two it still has that same Amazons element of tragedy that’s arguably more effective than what’s going on onscreen. The film isn’t quite brave enough to give Amazons a completely finite ending, but this most important issue is resolved as is anything else immediately outstanding. So while there could be more Amazons one day, whether there should be after this is another matter entirely.

Given the ambiguous way that season two ended Kamen Rider Amazons definitely needed one more outing to properly send off its two lead characters, Kamen Rider Amazons the Movie: The Last Judgement fails to live up to the expectations the series itself managed to set. Despite the fairly interesting setup, the film fails to do anything especially interesting with it – leading to a bloated story that's overstayed its welcome long before the promised showdown between Jin and Haruka arrives. The fight scenes that follow may relieve things somewhat, but they aren't enough to fully forgive what's come before it. Diminishing returns was always a problem Kamen Rider Amazons faced if it wasn't careful, so it's a shame that it just so happened to falter right at the final hurdle.


Anonymous said...

Great review ! Impressions on Zi-O so far ?

Chengkeng said...

I thought the movie was actually pretty good, but I would prefer if they hadn't killed off sigma and neo, if they had all the amazon riders fight each other to the death, it would have been better. This is my opinion the movie rating would be 4.5

Humam East said...

Oh this movie. When it focused on that cult is just boring as hell and doesn't developed any character at all. But damn that final part is just awesome. I cannot understand why the movie just focus on Haruka and Jin ideology and psychology. Want to market a new Rider ? make that rider as the psychological bridge of both, instead taking a central stage.