I watched the live action version of Space Battleship Yamato recently and found it to be an exciting movie. The action was good and as a nice treat, they even used parts of the old theme song. Old theme song you say? Yes, the film is mostly based on its 1974 series, and one cannot help but to see shades of JJ Abram’s reboot of Star Trek here. The basic plot is simple, but the specifics are tough to follow. Which is where, I believe, this movie will divide audiences into fans and non-fans of the source material.
Don’t expect too much character development here though, because there isn’t much time to jam pack so much into what’s already close to 2 hours and 20 minutes.Some japanese actors really need to stop with the dramatic poses and outbursts, throwing your hands in the air and screaming, it completely takes me out of the movie. Still, as expected, veteran actors deliver their lines and inhabit their characters without batting an eyelid, while younger cast members are less convincing with their histrionics. There is high romance and sacrifice. My only real complaint was there was not enough tenderness between Kodai and Yuki, but that may actually have slowed the pacing down too much. It may seem like I am picking apart this film but there is still a lot of enjoyment to be found here.
The special effects are impressive, both in quantity and quality. The visuals of outer space are mind blowing, even if a little monotonous. There are scenes that rely entirely on CG and they work well. There are also scenes that mix CG and actors and they are also very good. At the 2/3rd mark the plot becomes a hopeless mish-mash of the Gamilon and Comet Empire series, but without the sense of dynamics the anime had, even during a climactic ground battle that mirrors the struggle to get to the core of the Comet Empire. If this film had a stronger 3rd act this would have propelled it into B territory, and sadly, Aerosmith’s theme song at the end only makes things more cringe-worthy.
Space Battleship Yamato has been a long standing anime series in Japan. And the battleship itself is an icon that’s worthy of placing as a wallpaper on your laptop. Its space version is beautifully anachronistic, mixing high-tech capabilities with mechanical WWII menacing lines. As in all Japanese movies, I wish there was more of an international mix in terms of actors, as well as seeing the participation of more nations for the storyline. The explanation for such a pounding I am giving this film is because from the story plot to the design, it is pathetic to hear that the producer has planned 36 years to bring this icon to the big screen. The worst part is I KNOW it could have been a paradigm better than what it was. Still, what we have…is what we have. Proceed with caution.