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DVD Review

DVD cover

Space Battleship Yamato


Starring: Takuya Kimura, Meisa Kuroki and Toshirō Yanagiba
Distributor: Manga Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 19 August 2013

In the year 2199 humanity faces extinction. Five years on from the initial Gamilas attack, the Earth has been reduced to a radioactive wasteland. Earth's last line of defence is destroyed in a battle around Mars; with little left in reserve a last desperate mission is launched. Earth's last battleship, the Yamato, takes on a desperate mission to reach a distant planet, whose inhabitants have offered humanity a way of restoring the Earth...

Space Battleship Yamato (2010 - 2 hr, 12 min, 54 sec) is a live action film based on the popular 1974 anime series. The film was directed by Takashi Yamazaki from a Shimako Sato screenplay and apparently is one of Japan's most expensive films. Whilst the film is not the best science fiction movie made, it will delight fans of the show with its attention to detail.

As a film based on an anime show, it displays both the benefits and deficits of its ancestry. Visually, the film is stunning with impressive action sequences, sets are expansive and you can really see why the film was so expensive to make. But, while the film displays its breadth, it is depth that it lacks.

When they made a live action film of Scooby-Doo!, I guess they presumed that the situation and characters were so well known that the script didn’t have to introduce them. Within this world it made sense that we never discover how they met or what motivates them to travel around together. Now this is all fine if you’re aware of the film's sources, but if you are not then the lack of explanation exposes the lack of character development. The same problem holds Yamato and although it provides a decent action/adventure film, it’s very hard to empathise with the characters.

Kodai (Takuya Kimura) is an angry young man who had walked away from the Earth Defence Force to scavenge for a living, while his brother remained to captain a ship, a ship which was destroyed in the last battle. Kodai reenlists on the Yamato’s mission, even though he blames the captain for his brother’s death. Not that much is made of this, Kodai even inherits the ship when the Captain gets sick, probably the most improbable promotion ever.

Kodai is not alone as his old fighter wing is also on board, including Mori (Meisa Kuroki) who blames him for leaving the force when the war became difficult, although much like the relationship between Kodai and the Captain this is brushed under the carpet pretty quickly - in fact by the halfway point the two are kissing.

The aliens are pretty effective, even if their motives are a bit suspect. When one of the creatures infiltrates the ship, Kodai questions its motives for attacking Earth. Far from attacking, they insist that they are renovating. This might be a problem with the English subtitles, but it does make them sound like a race of intergalactic decorators.

Both the acting and the musical score are bombastic; this is not a subtle film, but it is a fun ride if you like battles and explosions. The acting is often funny in the over the top delivery the actors are expected to deliver, but then the film is not about nuanced layers, it’s about big spaceships with massive ray guns.

The disc comes with a few extras. Visual Effects, Before and After (11 min, 47 sec) shows how the various shots were built up. There is no narration, only a music score lifted from the film. Pre-visualisation (23 min, 53 sec) shows the pre-vis footage alongside the finished product, shown in sequential order, with bits of the actual film interspersed. It works like a cut down version of the film.

VXF Scale Footage (1 min, 10 sec) has the Yamato placed alongside real world objects so that you get the real scale of the ship. These are new shots not included in the film. Lastly we have the two Theatrical Trailers (1 min, 30 sec), (1 min, 38 sec).

Melodramatic in tone and epic in scale Yamato is a fun ride, especially for those who enjoyed the original anime.


Charles Packer

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