The name Screaming Mad George is probably familiar to more astute horror/genre fans as the man behind the effects on a few of Brian Yuzna's films, namely Bride Of Re-Animator and Faust: Love of the Damned. Steve Wang is also recognizable as the effects man behind films like Deepstar Six and more recently, Darkness Falls. You'd think having two schooled effect technicians on directorial duty working their mojo on a big screen adaptation of a popular Japanese Manga series would be a sure thing, right? Well, maybe not…
After his girlfriend is attacked by a gang of alien evil doers lead by a dastardly punk named Lisker (cult favorite Michael Berryman of The Hills Have Eyes), a young man named Sean (Jack Armstrong) comes into the possession of a powerful suit called the Guyver that transforms its owner into a mechanized superhero. It seems that these aliens have also killed his girlfriend's father, Dr. Segawa (Greg Paik), who actually designed the Guyver suit and now it's up to Sean to save the world and his girlfriend. Lucky for Sean, he's got an FBI agent named Max Reed on his side (played by Mark Hamill of Star Wars fame) who's happy to help out.
So with the stage set for an all out aliens vs. superhero battle and a cast of cult characters including not only those listed about but also Jimmy Walker (of Good Times fame), David Gale (he of Re-Animator and Peter Spellos (of Fred Olan Ray's 13 Erotic Ghosts!), you'd think this would shape up to be a whole lot of good brainless fun, right? Well, I wish I could answer your question with rowdy 'Hell Yes!' but instead I'm forced to mumble a half-assed 'kinda.'
When the action scenes kick into high gear, the movie gets it right. You can tell that a pair of F/X guys directed the film, as most of the set pieces are excuses to show off the monsters and what not. The movie gets that part right and these scenes are cool. Not necessarily the most seamless integration of effects and film, the low budget does show through a few times, but cool none the less. It's enjoyable to watch The Guyver get down and throw down with the bad guys, and the suit effects are kind of interesting as are the aliens themselves.
So with that established, where does it go wrong? Comedy, dear reader, comedy. Bad, poorly written, unfunny comedy. The curse of many a low budget feature, few so horribly derailed by it as The Guyver. The one liners are terrible, the jokes don't work at all, and it all feels very much out of place. The filmmakers were probably trying to keep the film in the spirit of an actual comic book, but whereas the snappy banter of something like Sam Raimi's Spider-Man makes for a few amusing laughs, here it all feels extremely forced. Because of that the film fails miserably in the dialogue department and is actually painful to listen to at times. My suggestion? Watch it with the volume off except during the battle scenes. It plays much better that way.
New Line gives The Guyver a very nice, though not quite perfect, 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors look very good throughout, especially the primary hues of red, green and blue used so predominantly throughout the movie, and black levels are stable consistently. There is some mild edge enhancement present throughout but it isn't too severe and you probably won't notice it unless you're looking for it. Print damage is very mild, though it is present in a few scenes. For a low budget movie of over ten years old, this release of The Guyver holds up quite well on the visual side of things.
Three audio options on this bad boy for you – all in English – Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1, and DTS 5.1 There's not a whole lot of difference between the two 5.1 mixes, though the DTS, as usual, does have slightly better bass response. The majority of the action is confined to the front and center channels, with the rears used sparingly to fill in a few holes here and there. Dialogue is clean and clear and while a few of the directional effects sound just a bit forced, overall all three of these tracks sound pretty good.
The only extra features that New Line has seen fit to grace this DVD with are trailers for The Butterfly Effect, Critters, The Mangler, and Highwaymen. No trailer for the feature itself is included.
While this is hardly the best Manga to film adaptation I've seen (that honor goes to the totally unrelated Lone Wolf And Cub series), The Guyver is fun in a throwaway popcorn movie kind of way. New Line has done a pretty nice job on the DVD presentation despite the lack of supplements, making the disc worth a rental for genre fans, all others are advised to skip it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.