Sean Barker (now played by David Hayter, who's voiced a lot of anime and recently written X-2) is back and after the events of the first film is starting to become curious as to how he was chosen as the host for the symbiotic Guyver armor that attached itself to him.
Since he's taken care of the alien menace already, he's found the time to investigate things a little further – specifically why the Guyver suit forces him to kill his enemies. He eventually finds his way to an old cave where an archeological dig is occurring where the scientists there uncover an ancient alien spaceship. Before you know it, Kronos is back in action and Sean is going to have to use everything he's got to get out of there alive.
Now this is more like it. Having been pretty disappointed in the first film, I was relieved to see Steve Wang and company get this one right. Or at least reasonably close to right. It still lacks some of the sophistication of the anime series but overall this isn't a half bad Americanized live action version of the story. While it doesn't have the same cast of cult actors that the first one did, at the same time this benefits the story in a sense in that we're not going into the film expecting the actors to be like their best known roles (Jimmy Walker being the most obvious example there – while it was kind of fun to see him in the first movie, he wasn't missed in this installment).
This film also loses a lot of the bad comedy elements that knocked the first film down a few pegs. The dialogue is more believable and a lot less cornball, and the action is cranked up as is the violence, making the film feel truer to its roots as a fairly over the top in the violence department manga and anime. There's no shortage of blood in this R-rated entry, far surpassing the cartoonish violence on display in the original PG-rated film. The first one may have felt a little bit like a kid's film but this one is much more adult in feel and tone. It's darker, grislier, and it is a more mature piece of work. Quite frankly, it makes for better viewing.
Performances are average for a b-movie, no better or worse than you'd probably expect them to be. Hayter is a decent replacement for Jack Armstong in the lead, and seeing as he spends most of his screen time covered in the suit, it makes sense to have him play the part, what with his extensive work as a voice actor for various animated features and series. He's got the physical side of it down pat, as well as the action scenes. The Guyver is a force to be reckoned with and this movie proves it.
Direction is tighter and more refined here, giving the film a less cartoony feel and it takes a more realistic (realistic by comic book terms at least) approach to things. The camera work captures all the action and establishes a nice mood in a couple of scenes, breaking up the fisticuffs set pieces nicely.
New Line gives The Guyver 2 a very nice 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer with nice color reproduction throughout and very little print damage. There is some fine film grain present for the entire film but it's not unnatural looking or distracting at all. Black levels are pretty solid and stable while flesh tones look lifelike. There's a pleasing level of detail noticeable on the print that they used and aside from a little bit of edge enhancement this is a very good transfer for a low budget film. Some of the scenes that take place in the cave weren't lit under the best of conditions so this transfer does reflect that, but that's not the fault of the DVD, just of the original elements.
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. Quality on this release is comparable to the audio mix that New Line provided on the first film's DVD, with slightly cleaner dialogue and better use of the surrounds.
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. Just like their release of the first film in the series.
Guyver 2 is one of those rare sequels that outdoes the original (though in this case, outdoing the first film wouldn't have been that hard). It's a better-made film with more intense action and a better story. New Line's DVD looks and sounds just fine, too bad they couldn't be bothered with any real supplements. Regardless, genre fans should eat this one up. Recommended.
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.