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Peng Zhang Li
Jeremy Marr Williams,
Zhang Ming Fang,
Li Zhong He
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In 1977, 20th Century Fox gave us Star Wars; Japanese studio Toho, on the other hand, presented The War in Space. Star Wars spawned umpteen sequels, made George Lucas impossibly rich, and became a phenomenon that is as popular today as it was 30 years ago; The War in Space didn't.
But Jun Fukuda's epic sci-fi effort doesn't fail because of its crap effects, awful design and ridiculous plot (these elements actually make the film just about bearable); it fails due to it's dreary beginning, dreadful pacing and complete lack of excitement.
The film starts with an attack on Earth by an alien fleet that has its base on Venus. After several notable landmarks are destroyed (in a scene that reminded me of Independence Day, but made without the benefits of computers and a decent budget), we meet the heroes of the piece: Professor Takigawa (Ryo Ikebe), his babelicious daughter (Yûko Asano), and her two suitors Miyoshi (Kensaku Morita) and Morrei (Hiroshi Miyauchi).
These guys, along with a small, dedicated (and seemingly expendable) crew, head for Venus in their fresh-off-the-forecourt battleship, The Gohten, and proceed to kick extraterrestrial butt.
Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Well, sometimes it is, but.....
...the film takes a long time to get going, with lots of talking where there should've been action (not that the action is much cop: badly choreographed laser shoot-outs and tedious space battles are the order of the day) and a pointless romantic sub-plot also gets in the way of the good stuff.
And by 'the good stuff', I mean the awful spaceships (that resemble galleons and submarines), the poorly conceived aliens (the main baddies have painted green faces and wear particularly daft outfits, whilst a huge hairy wookie-style monster has big yellow horns and brandishes an axe), the inventive weapons (The Gohten is equipped with huge lasers, that look like the bullet chamber from a giant revolver, and a flying drill/über-bomb), and, of course, the great scene in which June is kidnapped, and forced to wear a saucy leather outfit!
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