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Mutronics: The Movie  aka: The Guyver (1991)

review by Gary Bayley

The precedents are numerous and very persuasive - it's nearly always a fatal error to give mere technicians the creative reins and let special effects supervisors make their own movies. And yet that's exactly what's happened to this live-action feature based on the Japanese 'Guyver' comic by Yoshika Takaya, and produced by the usually reliable Brian Yuzna.
   Although he did some terrifically good work on Yuzna's Society, special effects genius Screaming Mad George (along with co-director Steve Wang) proves himself utterly incompetent as the guy in the canvas chair for this $3 million shambles - which, although of oriental origin, came much the same route to the screen as did Masters Of The Universe, and that particular cartoon and toy franchise isn't the only point of reference for this tiresomely self-reverential effects showcase. The 'Elm Street' saga, RoboCop, Return Of The Swamp Thing, and especially those green demons the Ninja (sorry, 'Hero') Turtles, are other examples of the movies from which Mutronics draws much of its detail. Feeble attempts to imbue the picture with a mythological background: aliens visited Earth millennia ago and caused humanoid mutations, just collapses under even cursory logic.
   The evil Cronos corporation are in the process of building an army of genetically-altered people capable of becoming grotesque monsters - about as convincing as guys in rubbery suits can be. These 'Zoanoid' nasties (led by old Michael Berryman) are low-grade variations of familiar hybrid creatures: super-gremlin, mini-predator, were-elf, ultra-troll, etc. And they're all after the misplaced alien machine which turns a college student (Jack Armstrong) into a cybernetic martial arts superhero - the Guyver. David Gale is the ineffectual head baddie, and only Mark Hamill as a CIA agent on the trail of Cronos corps villians, makes any pretence at acting.
   A couple of the transformational scenes are very impressively staged, admittedly (which goes to prove my point that f/x creators should stick with what they're good at!), but there's precious little else here to praise or commend. The action is repetitive (rapping reptiles appear more than once) and dull, and there's no proper story to speak of. To add insult to our already injured intelligence, this dire rubbish received a major UK video release, back in May 1992, and intact copies may still be found gathering dust in disreputable secondhand shops or on car boot sales.
   A lamentable sequel, Guyver: Dark Hero (1994), limped out on tape, for some unfathomable reason known only to trash movie marketing departments, and was promptly ignored by all discerning SF action fans.
an earlier version of this review was published in Strange Adventures #38 - April 1992
Mutronics
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