TYPE OF REVIEW : GOOD OL’ REVIEW
Very minor spoiler with warning.
Revice Forward: Kamen Rider Live & Evil & Demons is the perfect encapsulation of the season as a whole. The first V-Cinext film of Kamen Rider Revice features shades of the season’s highest highs, but many of the season’s lowest lows as well. It’s still fun to visit with old friends. But how you may eventually take this film will depend on how you view Revice itself. If you loved the season, you may just love this movie. If you didn’t, then you’ll find plenty to nitpick at.
And I’m certainly in the latter camp. I’ve already expressed my regrets and disappointments in the season. This film draws heavily on the last third of the TV series (obviously, as it takes place post-TV series). And it is in the last third where Revice truly went off the rails for me. Because of that, a lot of the film was a reminder of what fueled my disappointment in the season in the first place.
Revice Forward: Kamen Rider Live & Evil & Demons wastes no time getting right into the middle of the action. Hiromi is framed for kidnapping a young girl. And Daiji (with Kagerou ever present) hurries to try and clear his name. The true culprits, however, are a terrorist organization called Alicorn whose nefarious objectives threaten the world in a familiar way for our heroes.
First of all, the basic set-up is very much typical of many post-series films whether Kamen Rider or Super Sentai; the idea of stragglers from the main series’ antagonist group or new groups influenced by or continuing the work of the original villains.
This film leaves much of the endgame for its antagonists a mystery, which is perfectly fine. Doing so allows for the film to focus more on the main characters, particularly Hiromi and Daiji.
Choosing to do that is also a good decision as it grounds the film in something that fans and viewers of the series can grab onto. That’s of course half the battle; having the audience invested and interested in what’s actually happening in the film.
But since, in my view, the series’ narrative really collapsed in its final arc, the film continuing along that same rocky path really affected how much I could really engage with the story.
On a smaller scale, I felt Sakura had been so diminished by the end of the series. And Hana and Tamaki had become so irrelevant. The film merely verified this with the three characters’ short, but somehow still-too long scenes. Once again, they proved to be completely irrelevant to the film’s plot. And frankly, were the most annoying part of the film as well.
Bigger picture, the series had haphazardly tried to drive home the idea of demons and humans actually being two halves to a more complete whole. In my Season Thoughts, I talked about how the series was never sure of its own rules when it comes to the human-demon relationship. And in the end, merely twisted those rules to suit whatever they felt they could do with each character to serve as a “conclusion” in the final episodes.
This film tries to further those varied concepts. At some parts, it feels like the missing pieces of the foundation the series itself needed. At other parts, merely doubling down on the flimsy decisions that plagued the series’ endgame.
This is true most especially with Daiji and Kagerou. The series had appeared to come to a satisfying conclusion with their story early on. Maybe earlier than they should’ve had. But the series decided to upend that seemingly resolved aspect of the story in the end.
So this film trying to hold their “relationship” up as the ideal and somehow making it the foundation for whatever they wanted to do with Hiromi here falls very flat.
But like the series, the film has patches of good things sprinkled about.
Overall, the film does spend a lot of time on Daiji and Hiromi’s relationship. Something that the series lacked, especially considering that their relationship was one of the few bright spots during the year. They certainly deserved more focus. And definitely a better story here. But the crumbs that the film offers for their characters are good enough, relatively speaking.
Perhaps the film’s strongest aspect is the fact that Junya Komatsu is able to play a dual role. *Spoiler alert,* but aside from the Hiromi that we know and love, he must also play a more “devilish” version of Hiromi. Similar to how Kentaro Maeda and especially Wataru Hyuga were given the opportunity to do in the series.
Junya Komatsu has always been great and the fact that he was not able to get the material he deserved in-series will always be one of the series’ biggest flaws. But he at least gets the opportunity, however small, here in this film.
The film draws a tiny bit from the excellent Dear Gaga spin-off of Revice. And again, like its relationship with the series, seeing scenes from Dear Gaga in this film just show how high Revice could have gone alongside how low it did.
Finally, in the most nitpicky commentary on this film, having an opening credits sequence-slash-music video play within minutes of the start of the film was so abrupt. And perhaps a harbinger of the haphazard storytelling to come in the film. At the end, it turns out that the film would be bookended by a similarly odd ending credits sequence that played as a music video-slash-“best of’ highlights package from the series. And considering how the series ended up, it certainly did not instill a positive sense of nostalgia like it seemed meant to do.
Overall, Revice Forward: Kamen Rider Live & Evil & Demons is an okay film that pretty much sums up how the series itself ended up. Lots of intriguing potential bogged down by haphazard and poorly developed ideas. It’s definitely not the worst post-series movie. But it’s not one that I will be eager to revisit on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, I am actually looking forward to the George and Olteca-focused movie coming soon. Considering the two of them barely got any screentime in the series, their film probably won’t be as weighed down by the missteps of the series itself. And the short moments they had together in the series were some of the season’s highlights. Especially in the weaker second half.