Many people grew up watching the animated Space Battleship Yamato (known as Star Blazers in the United States) on television before or after school. We traveled with the Yamato (the Argo, in Star Blazers) as her crew fought valiantly to obtain the cure for the radiation poisoning of the Earth.
The 2010 film Space Battleship Yamato is a remake of part of the series, and it makes a fair number of changes. Susumu Kodai volunteers to join the crew in a desperate attempt to reach Iscandar and find way to reverse the effects of the terrible radiation rained down on Earth by the Gamilas. The only hope is the resurrected World War II battleship, transformed by humanity into a powerful, spacefaring warship equipped with the incredible Wave Motion cannon.
I thought the production design of the film was spot-on. As Earth is on its last legs, the cobbled-together look of the interior is quite realistic. There would be no time for making everything look sleek and futuristic. And while the basic hull of the battleship can be seen, it still has a commanding presence in all its space battles.
The music has hints of the original series’ majestic soundtrack scattered all throughout, giving Space Battleship Yamato a grand, space opera feel. The pacing moves along evenly, and doesn’t waste time on irrelevant information. This is important, due to how much they had to condense into one 138-minute film. I have heard complaints that the film felt long, but I do not agree. The director took the time needed to tell the story, and did so very effectively.
SMAP has always been a fun group to follow in Japan, and most (all?) of the members have tried their hands at acting at one point or another. In this case, Takuya Kimura plays the main character, Kodai, as he comes to terms with what must be done in order to save the Earth. I really like how his character grew and matured through the course of the film. Captain Okita (Tsutomu Yamazaki), who was perhaps a little too grave most the time, was a good anchor and leader for the crew. Yuki Mori, played by Meisa Kuroki, had an odd role, and her acting was hit-or-miss throughout the film.
The special effects were quite good, especially considering the relatively small budget for Space Battleship Yamato: only $24 million. As with Babylon 5, you could tell they were not working with the largest budget, but the special effects teams knew how to squeeze every last ounce of quality out of what they had. The results were very enjoyable and never pulled me out of enjoying the film.
Finally, the costumes were a great nod back to the designs in the original manga and in the anime series, but with a touch of modern function and utility to them. I really enjoyed watching Space Battleship Yamato, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good, solid popcorn flick.
Release Date: December 1, 2010 (Japan)
TV Parental Guidelines Rating: TV-14
Original Title: Space Battleship ヤマト
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (some social drinking)
Language: 1 (very minor)
Sexuality: 1 (implied sex)
Violence: 3 (alien attacks, blood, space battles, hull-breach deaths, heroic deaths, a lot of death on and off screen)