he original "Zeiram"
must have made money for somebody somewhere, because a sequel was released
three years later. They really shouldn't have bothered on our account, since
the resulting film is more akin to a bloody "Power Rangers"
episode instead of a science fiction/action film.
"Zeiram 2" reunites us
with intergalactic bounty hunter Iria, her computerized partner Bob, and her
idiot man-child co-worker Fujikiro. After the trio recovers a stolen alien
artifact, Iria is sent to an abandoned industrial site to test out the
combat capabilities of a new robot. What she doesn't realize is that the
robot is a new Zeiram model, quite advanced and extremely deadly. Problems
arise when the Zeiram malfunctions, and begins playing its war games for
real. Further complicating matters is Iria's traitorous co-worker, who is
planning to eliminate Iria and keep the recovered artifact for himself. Iria
must destroy the robot before it rampages through the population while
staying one step ahead of Fujikiro...
In short, Haijime Matsumoto's script is a mindless but entertaining piece of
work. The plot is simplistic and predictable, with dialogue that is
frequently funny (although whether that was intentional or not is anyone's
guess). Aside from Iria, the majority of the characters behave as if they
have a collective I.Q. of 50. Fortunately Matsumoto packs in plenty of nifty
fight sequences and robot action, so it's frequently easy to switch off your
brain and enjoy the carnage.
The direction by Keita Amamiya is competent in terms
of pacing, and he certainly knows how to film battle scenes and blow
things up. In certain scenes, he even seems to be paying homage to the
works of Sam Raimi and James Cameron. Unfortunately the visuals make
"Zeiram 2" look rather cheap and bland, and the film mostly
resembles an "Ultraman" episode that was rejected on terms of
violence. There's nothing aesthetically wonderful about the film, and most
of the scenes have an annoying blue hue about them.
As the heroine Iria, Yukio Mariyama is a terrific lead. She has a
wonderful onscreen presence, projecting an athletic fearlessness that
overshadows every other performer around her. Thanks to Mariyama's
efforts, Iria becomes the courageous force you'd want beside you whenever
killer robots appear. Dave Mallow is wonderfully calm as the voice of Bob,
and bears an uncanny resemblance to HAL 9000. If they ever do a remake of
A Space Odyssey", Mallow is the first person they should call. As
for the rest of the cast, words can't begin to describe their inept
performances. Hopefully, they have another career to fall back on.
The special effects, under the direction of Hiroshi Kidokoro, are well
done considering he probably had a limited budget to work with. The Zeiram
unit, when finally revealed, is a nice piece of craftsmanship that exudes
an almost eerie aura about it. Also fairly decent is the art direction by
Yoshima Hosaka, who manages to make the industrial complex look desolate
and foreboding. Their efforts elevate the film and they are appreciated
for raising the enjoyment level, if just slightly.
In the end, "Zeiram 2" is an unnecessary sequel that is mostly
fun to watch. As such, it's nice brain candy, but is easily forgettable.
Parents should be cautioned, though, since despite resembling a kids TV
show, the movie does have scenes of gore that may upset very young
children. More critical viewers, on the other hand, will just be upset by
the quality of what they are seeing.