Space Battleship Yamato DVD review

Battlestar Galactica meets Starship Troopers in Japanese blockbuster Space Battleship Yamato

2199 and Earth has been ravaged by attacks from an alien race known as Gamilas that have left the surface of the planet steeped in deadly levels of radiation. By all appearances the Earth Defence Force is losing the war, and humanity scrapes by living beneath the surface, awaiting the inevitable.

Former EDF pilot Susumu Kodai (Takuya Kimura) is struck by an alien capsule while scavenging, yet mysteriously the radiation levels around him appear safe. Inside the container are found schematics for a new warp drive as well as coordinates to its planet of origin, Iskandar.

Captain Okita (Tsutomu Yamazaki), the man Kodai holds responsible for his brother’s death, believes that humanity’s salvation lies on Iskandar and takes the last battleship Yamato on a quest into deep space to find a way to reverse the damage done to Earth using alien technology to improved the ship’s weapons and engines. The crew including the re-enlisted Kodai begin an epic adventure into unknown territory which is damn entertaining.

Certainly less brainless fun than Starship Troopers and not as cerebral as Battlestar Galactica, which it unashamedly nabs its style from right down to the fighter squadron sequences, Space Battleship Yamato (titled SPACE BATTLESHIP ヤマト or Supēsu Batorushippu Yamato in its native Japanese) is a grandiose dollop of high octane fun.

Space battles are loud and colourful while the cast are believably comfortable around each other in the mess hall, with forgivable levels of scenery chewing during tense bridge scenes. Kodai wrestles with command decisions and wins over the initially sceptical fellow pilot Yuki (Meisa Kuroki), but their romance is somewhat forced not least because she milks dramatic dialogue for all its worth.

The film keeps pace well until the climax, where things seem to get a tad ridiculous and poignant goodbyes go on for about ten minutes too long. However credit where it’s due and for a $22million budget film, every penny is on screen (remember Avatar cost $237 million, for instance) and the effects work is rather good.

There are just too many comparisons to be drawn between Yamato and the Battlestar Galactica reboot for the film’s look to win points for originality, but it’s an engaging yarn which despite the odd wobble manages to stay on track.