DVD review — Space Battleship YAMATO

Remember Star Blazers? It was a Saturday morning cartoon show that I watched as a kid in the 1980s. It was the American adaptation of a Japanese anime series called Space Battleship Yamato. (I use the word ‘adaptation’ because rather than just dub the series, elements were changed and much was edited out.) Now, it’s a live-action feature film, with all the space-opera, alien-blasting goodness of the series!

As the Earth becomes more and more radioactive under the bombardment from the alien Gamilas, a bold plan is put into action. Earth’s last space battleship, Yamato, is sent out in search of the planet Iskandar, where it is hoped they will find a device capable of counteracting the radioactivity.

My memories of the cartoon are rather sketchy and what I mostly recall is lots of spaceships and space battles with aliens. And on this level the Space Battleship YAMATO film really delivers. It is very stylish and has a real epic feel. The effects are first-rate and glorious to look at. Despite some cheesy humour, when it all get very dramatic, I think the film suffers a little from taking itself too seriously.

The characters are interesting and, although we have some moments where things are played for laughs, there is an attempt to inject some good character development. The cast are all pretty good, although the style of acting is often prone to cartoony over-acting… which is fine, as it suits the style of the film.

The story is exciting. There are a few minor lapses in logic, but they are not too distracting. Although things are a little confusing to begin with, all is pretty much explained by the end of the film. Unfortunately, I do have one major problem with the film — its climax. After some terrific build-up, right at the most exciting, nail-biting moment of the story, everything is suddenly put on hold for a tedious, melodramatic, overly-emotional parting between the main character and his love-interest. All the tension dissipates. All the excitement drops. I found myself twiddling my thumbs and watching the clock, wondering how long they could possibly drag this out for. We eventually get back to the action, but by then it’s too late — the impetus is lost! Very disappointing!

Having said that, please don’t let me put you off watching the film. If you can overlook this one flaw, the film is a rollicking good space-opera! You can always use the fast forward button! 🙂

If you’re into visual effects and the way they are created, you’ll love the extra features on this disc. There’s an eleven-minute montage of effects shots in various stages of development, a gallery of computer generated models and 24 minutes worth of pre-visualisation comparisons (rough animation used to plot out action and effects sequences). If you’re not into effects, you’ll probably get bored. I was disappointed there were no extras comparing the film to the original anime series.

Released on Blu-ray and DVD in Australia by Madman.

Catch ya later,  George

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