Review: Space Battleship Yamato / Cert: 12 / Director: Takashi Yamazaki / Screenplay: Shimako Sato / Starring: Takuya Kimura, Meisa Kuroki, Toshirô Yanagiba / Release Date: August 19th
Space Battleship Yamato is a glossy live-action version of a popular Japanese sci-fi show from the '70s. The original series, also called Space Battleship Yamato (recut and rebranded as Starblazers in the US,) detailed the adventures of a lone super-sized starship, built into the husk of an old World War Two destroyer. Its crew were on a quest to save the human race, who had been driven below the surface of the Earth by a marauding alien race called the Gamillas. The movie follows the same plot, but cuts the 77-episode long drama down into a slightly over-long feature film.
The movie does its best to honour the legacy of the TV show, perhaps slightly to its detriment. All the unique elements are here; the ship’s main weapon is fired via a handgun-style interface, the uniforms have huge arrows on them, the ship’s captain looks like Captain Birdseye, right down to the bushy white beard, and the drama is laid on thick with very little actual substance. Most of the space combat action is superb, and fans of things going bang in space will be pleased with this. Space Battleship Yamato is glossy space opera at its finest, filled with action, explosions and a retro-chic that makes it unique. It’s also much longer than it needs to be.
It’s hard not draw a comparison with the rebooted Battlestar Galactica; after all, both stories are about a surviving sliver of humanity in a massively armed spaceship, up against a genocidal hive-mind which likes to talk a little too much about the morality of war. However, the two are only faintly similar; Yamato’s glossy sci-fi chic and style over substance is nothing like Ronald D Moore’s navel gazing epic. The characters from Battlestar Galactica certainly have more time to grow on the viewer, and this is perhaps Yamato’s biggest problem; the main protagonist, Susumu is pretty dull. Actor Takuya Kimura tries very hard to bring depth and meaning to this rebel without a clue, but ultimately it’s the writing, not the acting, that drags the overall quality of the feature down. However, as a live action adaptation of a fairly forgettable cartoon show, it’s very good for what it is.
Those looking for Starblazers nostalgia will be well served, and those looking for mindless sci-fi fun will find this kills a few hours for them. Those looking for anything more than that will not only be disappointed, but are also looking in the wrong place.
Extras: Behind-the-scenes and visual FX featurettes / Trailers