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Friday, 16 January 2015

Space Sheriff Shaider: Next Generation.

Space Sheriff Shaider: Next Generation.

Look, this is kind of a sequel, but I didn't watch Space Sheriff Sharivan: Next Generation, because I'm pretty much here for one reason, and that's Hiroaki Iwanaga. Which is good, because he is one of - very, very few things that make this film bearable. 

Taking place after Space Sheriffs Gavan and Sharivan have discovered that the culprit of a string of copycat crimes is Horror Girl, a teenage girl wearing a budgie mask, this story follows Space Sheriff Shaider (or Shu Karasuma) and his partner Tammy, as the former attempts to crack a kidnapping and smuggling case without the latter getting involved. Little does he know, however, that the kidnappee, Hilda, is the daughter of the police commissioner, kidnapped on Horror Girl's orders.

I feel like this film and its plot was structured entirely around one shot, and that it was this shot here:

Which, actually, is fair enough. If I was writing a film with Iwanaga as the leading man, I might structure my plot around a shot like that as well. We are as one on this, film-makers. But it is very clumsily done, leading to a plot which on the whole is cliche, annoying, and poorly paced, and hinges on a character who is totally unlikeable.

I'm talking about Tammy, Shu's partner. Despite being a police officer, she is given the personality of - I don't know. I was going to say 'a teenage girl', but I don't think any teenage girl in history has ever reacted to mild jealousy by beating someone up. Tammy's frequent violent outbursts are meant to be funny, but given that she is confirmed in story several times to have super strength, it just comes off as cruel. Add to that that she endangers investigations numerous times, all while yelling in an absurd put-on high-pitched voice, and it was a very vexing performance of a very misogynystically written character ('Women, no emotional control, amirite? Even if they're trained police officers.')

I should clarify here, for people going 'wait, no emotional control, violent outbursts against people who can't adequately defend themselves, constantly endangering investigations by ignoring sensible police practice? That sounds exactly like the police!' that, really, only police forces in the US are exactly like that. Intergalactic police probably aren't.

Just in case that was too awkwardly worded, I'm trying to say that police in America
are awful.

It was grating, and annoying, and actually quite uncomfortable at times, especially as she's one of the two leads of this film. The other, Shu, is - there. I didn't dislike him in the same way, but my god, was I frustrated at the 'oh no, I can't tell my partner about this investigation' plot, which always seems forced, and was Shu's main character schtick throughout. Iwanaga's a charismatic enough actor to pull off a lot, but I still found myself twitching at that from time to time.

The film had an annoying tendency to shove in narration where it wasn't needed or wanted, too. Oh no, Shu won't transform? Have some sudden, jarring narration telling you why! A new character? Have some sudden, jarring narration telling you who she is and giving a brief overview of the backstory that led her to this position! You could exposit these things in a much less awful way than having the narrator suddenly boom these things directly at the audience. 

The most jarring and odd example by far was when the narration remarked 'Shu's Plasma Spark activates in a single millisecond! Let me explain how this works in more detail: Shu activates his Plasma Spark, which then activates in a single millisecond!' Wow, um, thanks for that - detail, Narrator. Regular Brian Cox moment there, man.

"Shaider is running. Let me explain in more detail: Shaider moves his legs and runs."

The action scenes, while fairly rare, weren't - terrible, I guess. Tammy's fight choreography had that trope I always loathe and which only ever shows up in Japanese fiction it seems, in which her fight with a set of mooks turned suspiciously sexual while she giggles loudly, which really just hammered in how much of a misogyny problem this film has. The final fight, which mostly involved giant mechas, could have probably used a shade more budget, or even better, to have been cut out altogether, because 'three giant robots fight a gigantic budgie mask' was not something I especially craved in my life. Especially since it also involved three women cheering the menfolk on from the sidelines, have I - mentioned this film's misogyny problem yet? 

The final plot twist was also somewhat unexpected, but in hindsight, that may have been a failing on my part more than anything.

Also, the romance in which one character is physically abusive didn't do much
for me.

Just - eurgh, I don't want to say that this film is disappointing, because I really had no expectations for it, but it's not good. It is a bad film. It is, in fact, awful. I do appreciate the Iwanaga fanservice, I really do, but it's set into a film which is aggressively terrible, and not really in a fun way. 

God, they're probably going to do another Space Sheriff film, aren't they. On the bright side, this one does basically stand up on its own, which is good, because I think if I had to watch the Sharivan film too I might have just died.

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