Bionicle: The Next Generation (also known as Bionicle: The Journey to One (Japanese バイオニクル：ワンへの旅 Baionikuru Wan e no tabi? ) in Japan) is a 1996 El Kadsreian kadsresatsu film directed by Pasi Peure, written by Sung Gim and Ryu Hamasaki, produced by El TV Kadsre Films and Toei Company and it was distributed by El TV Kadsre Films and it was released on April 29, 1996. It is the 22nd Technic Heroes installment. It marks the return of Bionicle since Bionicle IX: The Legend Reborn. Despite grossing $252 million worldwide, Bionicle: The Next Generation was a box-office bomb, which resulted in El TV Kadsre revamping the Bionicle franchise and licensing it to Lego in 2001. The film, however, has had a re-evaluation in recent years, and is considered a cult classic and of the better Technic Heroes films of the 90's by many Technic Heroes fans and movie critics.
Akira is a 21-year-old person who is living with his family in Romrac. One night, he received an mysterious email instructing him to go to leave for El Kadsre City. After following instructions from the email the next day, he ended up becoming the Toa alongside Harold, Brittney, Dennis, Akio and Susumu.
The Toa are tasked in finding the Elemental Creatures: ancient beings who incarnate the very life force of the elements and know the locations of the Toa's golden Masks of Unity as well as Makuta's Mask of Control. Finding one in each region, the Toa tame and befriend the creatures who lead them to their unity mask temples. Donning the masks, the creatures mount and 'unite' with the Toa to show them the location of Makuta's mask.
Meanwhile, Oswald Norman, also known as Umarak, a hunter born from the shadows, is employed by Makuta to find his lost mask. Aided by his Shadow Trap creatures, he follows the Toa and their creatures to the Labyrinth of Control, the secret off-shore location Makuta's mask. Inside, the heroes dodge the maze's booby traps and enter the mask's chamber; uniting with their creatures to do so. However, Pohatu's stubbornness to unite with Ketar, the Creature of Stone, allows Umarak to ambush him and use Ketar to enter himself. Fleeing with Makuta's mask, the hunter gives Pohatu the ultimatum of claiming it or saving his creature, to which he chooses the latter. Umarak later confronts Makuta's spirit and defies the claim that he was ever his servant by wearing his mask, but Makuta takes control and transforms him into a horrific beast.
Now the Mask Hoarder's minion, "Umarak the Destroyer" raises an army of Elemental Beasts created out of his Shadow Traps to attack El Kadsre City as a distraction for the Toa, while he seeks out the lost pieces of the Mask of Ultimate Power. Realizing their enemies' true intent, the Toa and an upgraded Ekimu pursue the Destroyer to the Black Crater in the region of Stone, where he recreates Makuta's forbidden mask in order to open a portal to the Shadow Realm, Makuta's prison after his battle with Ekimu. But when Gali attempts to retrieve the mask pieces, her spirit is pulled through. In the realm, she discovers the Toa's true destiny, and just as Umarak is consumed by the portal, returns to relay the information and unite the Toa into banishing Makuta for good. With their destiny fulfilled and power expended, the heroes' powers return to their stars to overlook a safe El Kadsre, with the intent of returning should danger ever arise again, the group returned to normal selves.
- Hikaru Fujioka as Akira Ishikawa/Tahu, Uniter of Fire
- Jordon Hayes as Harold Colt/Kopaka, Uniter of Ice
- Marian Quincy as Brittney Grey/Gali, Uniter of Water
- as Dennis Kingsley/Lewa, Uniter of Jungle
- Kouki Hashimoto as Akio Hayashi/Pohatu, Uniter of Stone
- Takeshi Fujita as Susumu Moto/Onua, Uniter of Earth
- Lex Moore as Oswald Norman/Umarak the Hunter; Victor Nelsen
- Long John Baldry as Umarak the Hunter (voice; uncredited)
- The Iron Sheik as Umarak the Destroyer
- Isamu Himura as Ekimu
- Ryota Ružička as Makuta
- Christopher Berger as Izotor
- Vaughn Nathans as Kivoda
- Maja Prebensen as Korgot
- Mervyn Cropper as Narmoto
- Akira Yamaguchi as Nilkuu
- Noach Irwin as Vizuna
Production and release
The development of Bionicle: The Next Generation traces back in 1992. Ryu Hamasaki, who was a ex-CEO of El TV Kadsre and writer of the first three Technic Heroes films was promoted to produce the film alongside Lawrence Kasanoff
The film was first released on VHS, TVD and Laserdisc in September 8, 1996 and on DVD in January 20, 1997 by El TV Kadsre Home Entertainment on El Kadsre (Region 2), March 19, 1997 in Australia by Roadshow Entertainment (Region 4) and April 3, 1997 in North America by MGM Home Video (Region 1). The two-disc special edition was released in April 29, 2006 (region 2 on El Kadsre), which included the alternate version of the film with the ending where Ekimu takes the Mask of Control and Oswald confesses the Toa that he tried to free the Makuta.
Lex Moore was overdubbed with Long John Baldry as Umarak the Hunter due to the mask muffling his voice, however Lex re-recorded Long John's dialogue in for Sung Gim's 2017 Writers' Cut, which was released a year after his death.
The film received various types of reviews from critics, with the original cut's reveiews ranging from positive to mixed to negative and the 2018 "Writer's Cut" receiving positive reviews. At the time, the film was less popular than other Bionicle films. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the original cut is rated at 21% on the Tomatometer, based on 53 reviews with the consensus "Critics believe Bionicle: The Next Generation was a nice try at a reboot for a well-known science fiction franchise, but was rather heavily wasted due to the use of 90's internet culture." The Banushen Television show, At the Movies gave a positive review of the film, giving a rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars.
Leonard Maltin gave the film a 3 out of 4 stars, calling it "a nice try for a legendary El Kadsreian sci-fi franchise with some obvious faults."
In response to the Razzie awards the film received, Pasi and Sung Gim sent John J. B. Wilson an authentic katana with "Cut my reputation, you perish" inscribed on it (the phrase being a line from a scene in Hero Factory VI: Invasion From Below.). Souta arrived in the cerenomy to accept his Razzie in person with his EKAC Award for Best New Star for Heartbreak Fields in hand and said: "First of all, I would like to thank Pasi Peure, Sung Gim, Ryu Hamasaki, Lawrence Kasanoff and everyone who worked at El TV Kadsre! Thank you so much for putting me in that god-awful piece of s**t! This is what my acting career wants and I hope my family will be proud at me!". Pasi's wife Ehda'a accepted her husband's Razzie for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million, and later gifted it to him as a birthday present to "very little amusement", while Philip Haldiman also accepted his Razzie nomination for Worst New Star, but later auctioned off the award in 2015, with all proceeds from the auction going to AIDS research. This film was also the last Technic Heroes film to win or be nominated for a Razzie as El TV Kadsre imposed a ban on giving review copies to members of and anybody affiliated with the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation a decade after the film's release.
Over the summer of 2017, writer Sung Gim and Pasi's son Amir Peure recut and re-edited the film into a "Writer's Cut", with the Lex's re-recordings of Long John's dialogue recorded in 2014, which was released in theaters in May 2018. Pasi Peure consulted for the recut, and brought in Amir's brother Guido Peure to direct new footage to recreate unshot scenes.
|1997||Kids' Choice Award for Favorite Movie||Pasi Peure||Nominated|
|Razzie Award for Worst Director||Pasi Peure||Nominated|
|Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor||Souta Matsumoto||Won|
|Razzie Award for Worst New Star||Phillip Haldiman||Nominated|
|Razzie Award for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million||Pasi Peure||Won|