It’s hard to believe that such an amazing anime series like “Guyver” would be so poorly received here in the states. Back in 1991, my dad rented “Guyver” for us and I absolutely adored it because I thought the Guyver looked amazing. I loved the look, the concept, the costume, and his elbow blades. Not to mention the movie starred Mark Hamill and that bald guy I always see in horror movies who I always thought was cool.
Years later, after my obsession with “Guyver,” I learned that the movie was actually based on an anime series named “Bio Booster Armor Guyver” created by Yoshiki Takaya, about a secret organization run by alien monsters trying to track down various units of the ultimate weapon: The Guyver units. Here, there’s only one real Guyver unit to speak of, and young Sean Barker is the unfortunate recipient to become the alien suited warrior. The differences between the series and this film are mind blowing. Where the 1991 movie from New Line Cinema was a very PG-13 science fiction camp fest, the original series was the antithesis in every way imaginable.
There’s blood, gore, guts, broken bones, and the Guyver is an immensely cool alien unit that can inflict ungodly amounts of bodily damage on anyone who crosses it. There are also more than one Guyver unit out there. The 1991 “Guyver” in retrospect just doesn’t do the anime any justice. I’m not sure what New Line was thinking, but they completely stuff this adaptation with men in rubber suits. The men in rubber suits are shape shifting monsters like the cartoon, but they’re all complete buffoons. Who in their right mind thinks “You know who’d be a good science fiction bad guy? JJ Walker from “Good Times”!”
Surely enough 1991’s “Guyver” is a travesty for fans of the series that does very little justice to the capability of the Guyver unit and what it can display on-screen. Plus they make the Guyver unit seem so weak and ineffective during the actual combat in the film. Just punch the ball bearing in his head and he’ll go down like a light. While the creature effects are generally terrible, the Guyver looks fantastic on-screen and I love how it seems to breathe and act as its own organism like it does on the anime series. It’s a science fiction version of Venom, so to speak.
Much of that doesn’t matter when the movie itself it dumb (I love how character Sean happens to run in to a street gang led by an Asian man who fights martial arts) and filled with a slew of awful performances, especially from that of star Jack Armstrong. To be fair though, it doesn’t help that main character Sean is obnoxious and unlikable. Mark Hamill also has little to do as a walking plot device, while folks like Michael Berryman and Jeffery Combs are wasted. It’s pretty sad that New Line couldn’t turn such a great science fiction property in to a big budget action franchise, because “The Guyver” really does nothing but piss all over the source material.