JAPAN 2010 Directed by: Takashi Miyazaki Written by: Shimako Sato Story by: Yoshinobu Nishizaki Manga by: Leiji Matsumoto Produced by: Toshiaki Nakazawa Cinematography by: Kozo Shibazaki Music by: Naoki Sato, Hiroshi Miyagawa Cast: Takuya Kimura, Hiroyuki Ikeguchi, Aya Ueto, Meisa Kuroki, Toshihiro Yashiba, Naoto Ogata, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Reiko Takashima, Isao Hashizume, Toshiyuki Nishida, Maiko, Toshiro Yanagiba, Kazuki Namioka, Takumi Saito, Takahiro Miura, Tsumoto Yamazaki, Naoto Takenaka
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, was a planet on the verge of collapse: the earthlings are about to be wiped off the face of mother earth by alien invaders called Gamilas. Space Battleship Yamato is leaving for a last mission to retrieve a device from outer space that can save the earth and reverse its process of decay. What the crew doesn’t realize: no one knows if the device really exists, or if the Yamato can indeed reach the remote planet where it’s supposed to be located. But earth’s rulers and Yamato’s crew has no choice as resistance against the alien brood is futile and without the device the human race will die a horrible death for certain.
SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO has been enormously successful in Japan since its beginning in 1974, while in the West STAR WARS, STAR TREK and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA have left little room for another SciFi soap opera of epic proportions. Consequently, SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO is like a parallel science fiction universe from Japan, with many details reminiscent of the Western counterparts. Wether or not Susumo Kodai is a Han Solo copy, or wether or not that red device was inspired by R2D2 I do not recall, what I can say is that SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO makes quite creative use of its assets as well as it shows a genuine quirkiness that only the Japanese can get away with. I don’t think any SciFi flick from the US could literally turn a WWII battleship into a larger-than-life USS Enterprise.
SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO makes up for some of its shortcomings that range from hectic storytelling, lack of depth of character development to sketchy direction and some superficial acting with charm and tongue-in-cheek attitude, as well as with likable characters. The fact that large parts of the mission remind of Noah’s ark and its undertaking will probably not escape most viewer’s attention, but luckily the film is rather interested in the modernization of the classic TV series than preaching, although it cannot be denied that its subject – at least and / or coincidentally – makes for very environmentally conscious entertainment (if there was something like “certified organic filmmaking” SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO was surely qualified to receive the honors).
But SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO isn’t really serious: it’s a SciFi saga with a pedal-to-the-metal attitude from beginning to end, and the makers also throw in some nice set pieces for good measure. The film is very commercial, yes, it’s trying to please a younger audience, yes, Mr. Yamazaki is still an untalented (but successful) director, yes, but SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO is also good fun.
Love it or hate it, SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO is a decent adaptation of the series and a decent SciFi flick in its own right. Then again, maybe that’s not too difficult after AVATAR.