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Wakusei Daisenso

The War in Space
Great Planet War / Battle in Outer Space 2 / Der Grosse Krieg der Planeten / Planet Wars / War of the Planets

Japan 1977
produced by
Tomoyuki Tanaka (executive), Fumio Tanaka (executive) for Toho
directed by Jun Fukuda
starring Kensaku Morita, Yuko Asano, Ryo Ikebe, Masaya Oki, Hiroshi Miyauchi, Hideji Otaki, Katsutoshi Atarashi, Akihiko Hirata, Goro Mutsumi, Isao Hashimoto, Shoji Nakayama, David Perin, William Ross
written by Shuichi Nagahara, Ryuzo Nakanishi, music by Toshiaki Tsushima, special effects by Teruyoshi Nakano

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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UN spacecorps pilot Miyoshi (Kensaku Morita) returns to Japan after two years in the USA, only to find his former sweetheart Jun (Yuko Asano) engaged to be married to his best friend Muroi (Hiroshi Miyauchi), another spacecorps pilot. But he hasn't returned to Japan on purely social matters but to hook up with Jun's dad, professor Takigawa (Ryo Ikebe), to persuade him to restart work on his superspaceship Gohten ... because you see, UFOs have only just started to attack earth, and a superspaceship, equipped with all sorts of superweapons, sure would make a difference. Takigawa at first refuses to help, but when one of his colleagues, the presumed dead doctor Schmidt (William Ross) pays him a visit later on, tries to force him to hand over the construction manual of Gohten, and is revealed to be an alien, he changes his mind.

While Takigawa and company are still trying to finish work on Gohten, the world is already under attack from the UFOs, all major cities are destroyed, and even the top secret island on which Gohten is built won't hold out forever. Gohten and its crew headed by Takigawa and featuring among others Miyoshi, Muroi and Jun, takes off just in time before the island is laid to waste.

During the ship's flight to Venus, where the alien headquarters are suspected, Jun is kidnapped by the aliens and held as captive. Still, professor Takigawa won't give in to any of the aliens terms. Miyoshi and Muroi however do their best to infiltrate the alien base and free her, even if Muroi has to die a hero's death when doing so.

Once Jun is set free, Gohten flies attack upon attack on the alien base, which now turns out to be the aliens' mothership, and while it at first looks as if the earth forces were winning, a special ray beam the aliens direct on Gohten turns the tides of war. But professor Takigawa still has an ace up his sleeve, a special all powerful bomb  - that has to be steered manually though and that's situated in Gohten's powerdrill. Takigawa knows he has to pilot the bomb himself to bury its secret with him, and in the finale he doesn't only blow up the alien mothership but all of Venus with it ... but of course only after Gohten has left the planet.

 

This film, obviously made to cash in on the success of the original Star Wars (but without really copying it), is not one to be taken seriously (despite copying the depressing and somewhat ambivalent ending from Godzilla). War in Space is not about a great story, about characters, about ideas, it's not thought-provoking or serious in any way - nope, it's a film about miniature effect, a film that if nothing else touches the inner child in its audience. I mean, it doesn't make sense to see a submarine with a powerdrill attached to it (Gohten) fight a Roman galley (the alien mothership) in outer space - but it's so much fun. Sure, the cities that are blown up in the process of the movie are all only somehow convincing miniatures - but seeing them blown up is exhilarating anyways. And I could go on with this for quite some time. The point though is, this is a film that's like a toy, and as an adult you know this toy is for children - but you might want to play with it nevertheless ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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