My Hero Academia – Two Heroes (Cert 15)
1 Disc DVD/Blu-ray/Steelbook (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 96 minutes approx
You know a shonen action show has made it to the big time when it gets its own big screen spin-off, so welcome to the major leagues My Hero Academia! Kōhei Horikoshi’s creation manga has seen its stock grow in a relatively short amount of time, debuting in 2014 with the anime series arriving two years later, and now a feature length movie, all in less than five years!
Staying true to the formula of most spin-off films by being an adjunct rather than part of the continuing storyline, Two Heroes sees Izuku Midoriya and his mentor All Might head off to I-Island, a remote hi-tech atoll where scientists research Quirks, the superpowers 80% of the world’s population now possess, and run an academy for future scientists.
All Might is visiting an old friend, Dr. David Shield to seek help for his ailing condition, swearing Izuku to secrecy about the fact they share the same Quirk. Their trip happens to coincide with the annual exclusive I-Expo which sees many of Izuku’s classmates also in the island, befriending Shield’s daughter Melissa, a Quirkless girl hoping to follow in her father’s footsteps.
During a welcoming gala, a group of villains led by the masked Wolfram take control of the island’s security system and puts the entire main building on lockdown, disabling the heroes in attendance and holding the guests hostage. However, Izuku and friends never made it to the gala and with Melissa’s help, infiltrate the main building to thwart the villains and save the day.
Written by prolific screenwriter Yōsuke Kuroda, Two Heroes focuses primarily on the ventral bond between Izuku and All Might, yet it could apply to any number of the Quirk powered cast since many pair off as part of the rescue mission. Whilst Twelve Heroes is a more accurate title it doesn’t have the poetic vibe and would make for a longer film that its 97 minutes in giving everyone their due onscreen.
Conceptually, there are traces of Die Hard and The Raid with the shared motif of our heroes ascending a multi-storey building and facing/despatching villains on the way up, the former also aping the siege situation. But this is incidental enough not to hamper any enjoyment or investment in the story or indeed the bombastic action that makes up the film’s last hour.
Prior to then, the attention is on the characters with a steady build, perhaps too steady for some, as we meet David Shield and of course Melissa, a slightly tropey blonde girl with glasses and an amiable personality you just know is going to be teased as a love interest for Izuku. I won’t say if this happens or not, but as a scientist, Melissa does invent a wristband that can prevent Izuku from pain when using his Quirk at 100% that comes in very handy later on.
Interestingly, Kuroda works on the premise that not everybody seeing this film is a prior fan of My Hero Academia thus provides a brief recap of the main story to bring any newcomers up to speed, which is a nice surprise. This will require established fans to be patient for a few minutes whilst other might benefit from the refresher. Not so thorough is the introduction of the supporting cast, built around a display tournament which Izuku finds chief rival Katsuki Bakugo one of the participants, cajoling Izuku to take part too.
Using the invite only I-Expo to explain the presence of the others, fans can enjoy seeing Shouto Todoroki, Ochaco Uraraka, Tenya Iida, Eijiro Kirishima, Minoru Mineta, Momo Yaoyorozu, and Kyoka Jiro do their bit in saving the island from the villains. There is plenty of comedy to be found whenever they get to together but when they need to get serious, they function as a formidable cohesive unit.
Given how large the main cast is in the TV series, it must have been hard deciding who to leave out yet many of the names listed are considered principal players, and there are a couple of cameos in case your favourite is one of the absent ones. The villains sent to impede their progress also have Quirks whilst the corrupted security robots are more dangerous than ever, allowing the supporting cast a chance to show off their abilities.
The only weakness of the script is in giving sufficient agency to Wolfram and his motives for the heist. A plot twist reveals one part of this but not the full picture, leading to a betrayal of trust and change in fortune, yet Wolfram is simply another megalomaniac with a lust for power. A little less time with the plodding opening act would have allowed Kuroda a chance to explain this development in detail, in turn fleshing out the characters involved more, but this is an action show and that is where the money is.
And indeed the last hour is practically wall-to-wall action with very few respites for story progressions but remaining congruent all the way. Yes, it is spectacular, over the top, boisterous, and sometimes rather violent but fans won’t be disappointed. The climax is cheese on a stick but it’s good cheese, and studio Bones really go to town in bringing it to life, even if the animation on the whole is a small upgrade from the TV series.
However, it looks stunning on Blu-ray and the sound design deserves some credit here too, taking us into the heart of the action and allowing us to feel the excitement. It would all be for nought if the characters hadn’t been positioned to make us care, whilst of the new faces, Melissa would be a nice addition to the main cast but this sadly doesn’t appear to be the case.
It doesn’t break any new ground but My Hero Academia – Two Heroes is immense, action-packed fun, enriching our connection with the franchise through embodying its spirit and essence in this hugely satisfying film spin-off.
English Language 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Japanese Language 5.1 DTS-HD MA
English HOH Subtitles
The Making Of A Hero
Rating – *** ½
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