The War in Space (1977)
History is filled with horrible men, vile creatures who have caused death and suffering on a scale so outrageous, so incomprehensible to our minds, that their very names have become the definitions of Pure Heartless Evil. Adolph Hitler killed millions in his megalomania, Vlad the Impaler inflicted his sadistic urges on thousands, Attila the Hun redefined savagery, and Pol Pot took genocide to a new level of cruelty. But no one has caused so much mental anguish and garnered so much virulent hatred than Michiko Ikeda, the editor of Toho Studio's train-wreck of a sci-fi film from 1977, The War in Space. His sins include the complete and utter mangling of this promising movie, causing mind-numbing confusion and head-scratching by frustrated viewers, and most heinously, the wanton theft of several hours of my life spent trying to figure out just what the hell is going on in The War in Space. For these crimes against humanity, Michiko Ikeda should be tortured and killed immediately, or at least forced to watch his own movie for eternity.
What Ikeda did was edit (butcher, really) this movie with the premeditated intention of making it as incomprehensible and confusing as possible, deliberately destroying any semblance of reason or understanding that the film had before it fell into his cloven hooves. People come and go, events pop up and disappear, whole segments of exposition and plot seem to be either missing entirely or jumbled in such a way that you have to watch the movie five times to figure out what just happened. He would have done better had he just cut the film stock into hundreds of small snippets, tossed them in a hat and pulled them out at random and spliced together the movie. In fact, that's often what it looks like he was doing. If I had to guess, I'd say that the original director's cut was like 13 hours long, but Toho insisted that it be cut down to like 90 minutes, forcing the editor to resharpen his scissors several times. Anyway, my rage is dissipating.
The War in Space was first shown in Japan on December 17, 1977. It was released on home video in the 1980s by Video Action, using a dubbed 35mm print that was first shown on American television. I had a hell of a time trying to locate a copy of this film to watch, finding only a couple in a month of searching. After considerable money and effort, I obtained an 87-minute long DVD-R of the English-dubbed version for my review. For whatever reason, this is a very obscure movie. I have found only a handful of capsule reviews on the internet and even the great and glorious IMDB has a very skimpy entry. The movie is fairly entertaining despite its myriad faults, so perhaps it's just a matter of availability. Hopefully, one day Toho Studios will give The War in Space the full DVD release treatment, it would really benefit this great movie.
The film quality of my DVD-R is atrocious, with frequent jumps and wiggles to go along with the blurry faded colors and overall darkness of the presentation. So dark, in fact, that many scenes are almost completely unwatchable, further maddening the viewer. The sound is fine, I guess, but the near constant musical score often drowns out the dialogue. There are no subtitles, and with the scarcity of internet resources, I had to guess on a lot of names. I oh so got shafted for my $25 bucks...
This one is the third in a trilogy of similar movies, the first two being 1957's Earth Defense Force and 1959's Battle in Outer Space. In fact, one of our movie's numerous alternate titles is Battle in Outer Space II, along with Great Planet War, War of the Planets and Cosmos. There are very few direct links to the first two movies, though the 18-year span between episodes is mostly to blame (along with Michiko Ikeda's editing, of course). As we go along, I will point out the similarities and differences in these three movies.
And now on to our show...
First off we are told that our story is set in "Autumn, 1988". Battle in Outer Space was said to take place in 1965, so 23 years have passed in this timeline. Technology has seemed to have advanced at about the rate expected, and there are some ultra-fancy gadgets and ships we see later on. All the alien technology captured in the last two movies I'm sure played a part.
We open in Tokyo, Japan, where we watch a stock footage USAF C-141 Starlifter cargo plane coming in to land at a stock footage airbase. On this plane is our film's Designated Hero, the dashing astronaut and scientist Koji Miyoshi, played by 28-year old Kensaku Morita. Morita would have a spotty acting career, with only this role and that of Shinzawa in 1980's Virus standing out. He's fine looking young guy, tall and skinny with screaming 70s hair and inordinately white teeth.
Miyoshi is returning to Tokyo from two years abroad at the UN Space Bureau headquarters in America, where he was working on rocket launches. He goes to the Japanese branch of the UNSB in Tokyo, where he used to work. The first people he runs into in the control room are two old friends, Morrei and June Takigawa.
Scientist and jet pilot Morrei is played by 35-year old Hiroshi Miyauchi. Primarily a television actor, he had the reoccurring role of Kamen Rider V3 in the Kamen Rider series in the early 1970s, and would go on to star in numerous similar television shows in the 1980s and 90s.
Scientist June Takigawa is played by 17-year old Yuko Asano, an actress with mostly television drama roles on her resume. June is our film's Designated Hottie, and she fills that role admirably despite her youth. Her face is full and round and her hair has the Farrah Fawcett flip going. Not a bad body, either, and we get to see a lot of it later on. I found a photo of her circa 1996 and she is still quite a looker these days.
These three will form our Obligatory Love Triangle, sure to cause much grief and consternation as the film goes on. Why can't people in movies just meet and fall in love anymore? Why does there always have to be a Jealous Ex-Boyfriend or Best Friend With Hidden Feelings to get in the way of every relationship? It irks me that so much conflict and emotional stress comes with love in these movies. June and Miyoshi used to date, used to be madly in love in fact, back before he left suddenly for America. In his absence, Morrei stepped in and started dating June. Now he and June are engaged to be married, and the sudden reappearance of Miyoshi is causing much tension and confusion. Miyoshi and Morrei are still close friends, but their mutual affection for the lovely June is always hanging in the air.
As they banter about in the control room, a crisis is brewing out in space. It seems that "electric waves" have been interrupting communications across the globe, and have even affected rocket launches in America. As well, "starshowers" of meteors have been reported across Japan. A certain Doctor Schmidt is currently out in the mountains of Honshu looking for suspected UFOs that might have landed in the area.
Word also comes that the UN Space Station Terra is being affected by electric waves from Venus! The waves are at 1420 megahertz and have crippled the station's ability to communicate with Earth. The controllers in Tokyo receive a garbled last transmission from the Terra captain as he freaks out about an approaching huge spaceship that "looks like a Galleon". The man whips out his thesaurus and calls it "gigantic", "stupendous", "huge", and "enormous" all in the same sentence. The editing is a jumbled disaster here, and it's not until much later that we can figure out that the space station was supposed to be destroyed in this attack. Rotten editor.
So while the rest of them try and figure out what happened to the station, Miyoshi goes to see June's father Professor Takigawa at his home in Tokyo. Professor Takigawa is played by 59-year old Ryo Ikebe, a popular Toho role player. He played the dashing young hero Major Katsumiya in 1959's Battle in Outer Space, but here his character has no connection to that role. Takigawa is a wizened, professional looking man, with graying hair and a lined and weathered face. He's far and above the best actor in the cast and really seems to be taking his character very seriously, much to the betterment of the film.
The conversation starts out badly for Miyoshi, as Takigawa berates him for leaving his daughter June "alone in Japan". He wants to know why Miyoshi did this and why he's now back in town. Miyoshi looks painfully uncomfortable, but manages to avoid directly answering either question. Instead, he gets right down to business.
Takigawa and his team of scientists (including Miyoshi before he left for America) had been working on a huge and well-armed "space battleship" named Gohten. This was a mostly Japanese project apparently, with little international assistance and manpower. The reasons for building such a massive armed spaceship are never explained, but we can infer that it's being constructed to combat the frequent incursions from aliens (in 1957 and 1965 in our movie's timeline). It's not an exploration vessel in any way, nor does it have any terrestrial mission, it's exclusively a warship designed to fight in space.
For some dodgy reasons, about the time Miyoshi left for America, Takigawa suddenly resigned from the Self-Defense Force and suspended construction on the Gohten when it was like 95% complete. He says that it "is not necessary, and we should have nothing that is not necessary for Earth." Miyoshi came back to Japan with a plea from the UNSB in America for Takigawa to finish the spaceship in light of the recent alien sightings across the planet.
The professor then receives a phone call informing him that Doctor Schmidt, apparently and old friend and colleague, has been killed in the mountains of Japan while searching for reported UFOs. This news clearly affects Takigawa, who begins to reconsider his decision to not finish the Gohten.
That night (or some other night, it's not clear) Morrei and Miyoshi are driving somewhere in an Army jeep. They see a Ferrari drive by and inside they swear is Doctor Schmidt, the dude that was supposed to be dead in the mountains! Doctor Schmidt is played by a very tall middle-aged American actor named William Ross, who was notable for playing Ferguson in the cult classic The Green Slime from 1968.
We see that Doctor Schmidt has gone to see Professor Takigawa at his house. There the American tells Takigawa that he faked his own death to avoid the aliens that were "following him". He wants him to let him in on the plans for the spaceship Gohten. In the film's best moment, Takigawa sighs deeply and says that he cannot give him the plans because he is not Doctor Schmidt! It seems the American always "held his cigarette lighter with his right hand" but this Schmidt held it with his left a minute ago. Damn, that Takigawa is slick.
Schmidt then pulls out a pistol, confirming that he's an alien disguised as Schmidt, who is truly dead. Morrei and Miyoshi arrive just then and there is a fight. Miyoshi throws his own lighter at Schmidt, knocking the gun from his hand! Morrei then grabs it and puts a bullet through Schmidt's shoulder. The wounded alien then jumps out a picture window and runs off into the night. Hmm...I guess then he "explodes" for some reason, because we next see him dead on the ground. The editing here is a mess and I can't figure out just what the hell just happened. Michiko Ikeda should be brought before a jury for this mess.
All this spurs the Japanese government to order Takigawa to complete the Gohten project. Takigawa had already decided to do so anyway, and he has the staff and crew gathered up. The only one not in Japan, apparently is "Jimmy from NASA" who is still in America. Takigawa also says that his daughter June will be going with them, "not because she is my daughter, but because she is a fine technician". He also admonishes the men to "be nice to her". That was cute.
And then WHAM! We jump right into a massive, full-scale, world-wide assault on planet Earth by fleets of UFOs, all blasting away with lasers at entire cities. No plot setup, no shots of the UFOs approaching, no scenes of people preparing in anyway. Nothing, just bam, suddenly the planet is swarming with attackers. I suspect that all the lead-up to this was edited out in a deliberate attempt to melt my brain and boil my blood with anger.
The UFOs, as I will call them from here on, are spherical in shape and are armed with twin laser guns. Their size is difficult to determine, but I'd say they are about twenty feet in diameter. They make "flying saucer sounds" like in all these kinds of movies and seem particularly aggressive towards buildings and national landmarks.
We see a fancy models of the London Bridge and the Arc d'Triumph in Paris exploding in all their Toho glory. We also get some stolen stock footage from 1961's The Last War and even from 1959's Battle in Outer Space. Truly, the aliens are pounding the planet real good. We hear that missiles can't lock onto the UFOs "because of the electric waves". All hope now rests with the Gohten begin finished in time to save the Earth.
So the assembled team head off to the underground island facility where the spaceships is being constructed. To reach the island they take a submarine, as it's apparently too dangerous to fly with all the UFOs blasting everything. The sub is stock footage and looks to be a Japanese Uzushio class SSK. Where exactly this island base is located is never stated. A few scant clues tell us that it's a tropical island somewhere south of Japan. Why an underground island base? Is it because they feared that some alien race would try and spy on the construction and even try and stop it? Were they hiding it from other nations? Since we see that the aliens here know exactly where the island is, and spend a lot of time trying to blast it into the sea, I'd say that it wasn't such a big secret after all.
They arrive safely and begin putting the finishing touches on the spaceship Gohten. They all change into jumpsuits and wear baseball hats with "GOHTEN" on them in English, which just seems weird. June's jumpsuit fits her very well, if you know what I mean. The ship will be ready in three days, they say. Meanwhile, the UFOs are hovering around the island, zapping it constantly with their lasers, trying to collapse the caverns. Inside, explosions echo as dull thuds and often showers of dirt and loose debris cover the ship and the facility work floor. It's a race to the end.
Hmm...we suddenly cut to a aerial dogfight between a UFO and a fighter jet. It's nearly pitch black out, so you have to strain to see just what is happening. The jet is an F-4 Phantom in USAF colors with "USS" in big white letters behind the cockpit. Apparently the UFO shoots down the jet, but the pilot manages to eject. The UFO then attacks the floating parachute, cutting one of the straps (which would cause the chute to spill, right?). The pilot lands safely, however, but is strafed by the UFO before finding cover. What was that all about? Ah, I see now. That pilot was Jimmy! And he was flying out to the island base and was bounced by the UFO! Why the hell couldn't they make that more clear?
Jimmy makes his way into the facility and is reunited with the rest of the team, who are all overjoyed to see him. Token White Guy Jimmy is a tall bland dude with a boyish face and an extremely limited acting range. He's played by David Perrin and this is his only credited movie role, which is not surprising as he sucks.
The aliens, realizing that pounding the island just isn't working, now decide to try a direct attack. We see that under the cover of the ever-present darkness a small group of alien commandoes assaults the facility's entrance. The doorway is guarded by just three soldiers armed with BARs, a laughably small defensive force. For the next few minutes the editing is very confusing (damn you Michiko Ikeda) but either the aliens take the weapons, uniforms and even faces (!!!) of the dead guards as they go along, or they came down from their ships posing as human soldiers. Either way, their disguises would work if they used subterfuge, but they just begin shooting their way towards the command center.
The commando raid is swift and deadly. There are eight attackers in total, all dressed like guards and carrying Japanese Army Type 64 7.62mm assault rifles. They quickly work their way towards their goal, killing at least seventeen guards and technicians along the way. Morrei and Miyoshi arm themselves with laser pistols and manage to kill three of the attackers.
The other five aliens corner Takigawa and some others in the command center and demand that they turn over the Professor or everyone gets killed. Just as it looks like there's going to be a bloodbath, Morrei and Miyoshi jump them from behind and shoot all the remaining aliens dead.
The bloody commando attack spurs them on to work harder to finish the spaceship. In short order the Gohten is ready to take off. It's unclear whether or not there is a launch ramp of sorts, or how the ship is supposed to exit the underground facility. We see that they have to blast their way out with their beam weapons, suggesting that the exit ramp was blocked off by UFO damage.
Out in the open air now, the Gohten is swarmed by the flight of UFOs that has been bombarding the island. The Gohten's weaponry includes these depth charge-like canisters that are ejected out of a vertical port on the hull. They arc into the midst of the charging UFOs and explode, destroying all the alien crafts in frame. The UFOs show mindless Banzai tactics, continuously bunching up to present the best possible target for the spaceship's weaponry. It's little surprise when they are swept from the skies with little effort.
Back in Tokyo, we hear that the fleet of UFOs that was pounding Japan has now left and is heading south to meet the rising spaceship. BTW, this one line is the only geographical clue we have for the location of the island facility. The UFOs over America are also headed for the battle.
The action takes place at 3,800 meters in the clear blue sky. Again, the editing is confusing but a running tally shows perhaps as many as 50 alien UFOs involved. Since at the end of the battle Takigawa announces that "all the enemy UFOs have been destroyed" we can assume that all 50 were downed. The Gohten takes dozens and dozens of hits from the UFOs' laser guns, but seems to suffer no damage. These were the same laser guns that blew up entire city blocks before, so we have to wonder just what the skin of the Gohten is constructed of to resist such powerful beams.
The UFOs defeated over the planet, the Gohten now heads for Venus to take on the aliens at their base. The "ionic rockets" fire, propelling the huge ship into space at a fantastic rate. Damn, that really is looking like Space Cruiser Yamato there.
Along the way, Jimmy is given a cable that was received before they took off. It says that his entire family was killed in an alien attack. Jimmy is destroyed, and wanders off to stare blankly into space. Mournful music on the soundtrack and the single highlighted tear running down his cheek try and get us to feel Jimmy's pain. The problem is that so far we have had maybe thirty seconds of character development with Jimmy so we neither know him nor really care what happens to him at all. Had this happened to Morrei or Miyoshi, then we could have some sympathy pains, but Jimmy is just a minor player to us at this point. And they make a big deal about how Takigawa waited until they were in space to give Jimmy the bad news about his family. Why? I know it sounds cold, but would you really want to jeopardize the mission by giving one of your primary crew members a major emotional distraction just before the climatic battle to save the planet?
We also get a really, really lame personal moment between Morrei and Miyoshi. Morrei tells Miyoshi that June still loves him and if he (Morrei) dies in the coming battle, then he (Miyoshi) should "take care of June". The overly sappy music and the repeated tight close-ups make this scene almost unbearable to watch. Having had this scene, we all just know that Morrei is a dead man eventually, right?
Anyway, about half way to Venus they come across a hunk of wreckage floating in their path. Their sensors identify it as the remains of Space Station Terra, destroyed in the beginning of the movie. Now, even the crew has some serious questions about why the debris are this far out into space and suspiciously right in their path. One man, lacking a basic understanding of gravity and physics, offers the lame explanation that the station is out this far "because of the explosion". Yet they still send over a man to check the wreckage for bodies to give a "proper burial" to.
Sure enough, they find the body of a man (Mikasa), apparently dead but still in his sealed spacesuit. They take him aboard the Gohten and are wheeling his body along on a guerny when a small force of UFOs in detected approaching the ship. Thus, June is left alone with the dead man in a hallway. Suddenly, and we all saw this coming, Mikasa's dead body comes to life and the man pulls a gun on June! Ah, I see now, the aliens planted this dude disguised as a human in the wreckage of the station to get aboard the Gohten. He forces her to an airlock where a UFO has pulled up. Watch as June is handled really roughly by the actor playing Mikasa, much more than you would think to sell the scene. They leave the Gohten and fly off in the UFO. BTW, this is the only indication we have of the size of the UFOs, at least large enough to hold two normal-sized humans.
Back aboard the Gohten, a frustrated crew watches as June is kidnapped and flown back to Venus. Morrei blames himself and wants to chase after them, Takigawa wisely calls him back. They will just have to try and save her once they reach Venus.
WOW!!! What the hell is this??? The aliens then transmit a video signal to the Gohten, showing a huge furry Wookie, an alien commander dressed like Julius Caesar and poor little June in a SKIMPY BLACK LEATHER DOMINATRIX OUTFIT!!!!!!!! That is the weirdest scene I have ever seen in my life, coming from so far out in left field that it really distracts your viewing experience for the rest of the movie.
The Wookie-like creature (played by a guy named Mammoth Suzuki) is about seven-feet tall and covered with brown fur, he really does look like a short-haired Chewbacca. I just know that they watched Star Wars, which came out earlier that year, and added in this creature just to ride the coat-tails. This Wookie, however, carries a huge Viking battle axe and has two big ivory horns sticking out of this head.
The "Supreme Commander of the Empire of Galaxies" is played by 43-year old Goro Mutsu. Mutsu knows a thing or two about evil alien leaders, having just played them in 1975's Terror of MechaGodzilla and 1974's Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla I. In our movie his face is so obscured by a tinfoil mask and green face paint that he is almost unrecognizable. The Roman motif abounds in his throne room, with large snake sculptures and ornate flagstaffs flanking the seat. We never really learn much about this civilization, but we don't really care to either. They are evil and that's good enough for us!
Anyway, it seems that the Wookie is some sort of henchman for the alien leader, and they have June all dressed up like an S&M goddess to show the humans how serious they are about ruling the planet and all. I think. It all might just be a reason to put June in that outfit, which is just fine with me. The alien commander tosses threats and ravings around, telling them that they want the Earth because it's similar to their own planet, theirs is about to die as their sun goes nova.
If the Gohten tries and attack them, they will destroy all the planets in the galaxy to punish them. Wow, that's pretty harsh, don't you think? The crew of the spaceship grow more indignant with every word and they are coming to Venus to kick some alien ass, and seeing June treated so badly has only made them more determined.
So the Gohten lands on Venus. Well, really more of a "controlled crash" as they skid along the ground for a while before coming to a halt. What was that about? Surely they could have landed a bit more carefully. Hmm...the music in this scene is a synthesizer instrumental version of "Jesus Loves Me".
Let's talk about Venus. The planet in this movie looks like a bad Star Trek set, with orange-tinted sky and lots of crumbling rocks everywhere. We are told that the surface temperature is 475 degrees Celcius, the air pressure is 83,000 milibars and the wind is howling at 5,220 kilometers per hour! Wow, rather unpleasant.
From the bowels of the ship a squarish land vehicle emerges and heads off towards the suspected alien base for a little recon mission. The vehicle looks like a tracked version of the Eagle V Winnebago from Spaceballs, really. The Winnebago works its way across the surface, finally spotting a huge cavern in the side of a mountain.
Inside the cavern they can see a large spaceship shaped vaguely like a 16th century Spanish galleon, really. They take a bunch of photos and video of the ship and the force field that protects the cavern entrance. They get a bit too close and the Galleon lashes out with laser beams, causing the Winnebago to retreat in a hurry.
Back aboard the Gohten, they analyze the photos and come up with a plan. Takigawa says, "It is our greatest aim to inflict vital damage to the heart of the enemy." The men see that they might possibly enter the Galleon through an airduct in the nose of the ship. Fighters from the ship will attempt to disable the force field while a commando team in the Winnebago tries to sneak into the Galleon. Hmm...kinda like in Return of the Jedi, eh?
Miyoshi will lead the commando team on the ground, while Morrei and Jimmy lead the five fighters in the attack. In one of the sillier design elements of the Gohten, we see that the fighters are launched out of a "revolving multi-shot cylinder" that slides partway out of the side of the ship, looking just like a .38 Special revolver. The fighters themselves are single-seat rockets with short stubby wings and twin laser guns. They are certainly unexceptional craft, with nothing really cool about them.
Ok, so the battle is on. The fighters attack the mountain cavern, firing laser beams that blow up chunks of rock and smoke with each hit. The optical effects are a mixed bag, with every good shot ruined by a matching number of wobbly-models-on-strings embarrassments. Jimmy gets all the good lines here, "Good luck, we shall overcome." and "Bastards!". The attacks are not having much luck, however, and the force field remains up. They need some Ewoks.
A flight of ten UFOs now engage the five fighters in a murderous dogfight. At the end of the brisk furball, only Morrei remains aloft. Morrei himself shoots down five or six of the UFOs, and another three or four are accounted for by other pilots. Sadly, Jimmy dies in the battle, though as his crippled ship spirals towards the ground, he Kamikazes the cavern roof. The collision brings down the force field, allowing the commandoes the opportunity they were waiting for.
Led by Miyoshi, the four men in the Winnebago gear up and head off on foot. The spacesuits they wear are reuses of the suits from 1968's Destroy All Monsters!, repainted a bright orange. Only one of the four has a laser rifle, the others just pistols. You'd think they would bring some more weaponry.
They enter the huge Galleon through the gaping airduct and pick their way through the interior of the ship. Ditching their spacesuits, they continue on. In three short firefights, they kill four guards, but loose three of their number in the process. The guards all wear hoods, elf shoes (!!!) and carry silver ray guns. Just Miyoshi remains now.
Meanwhile, in the throne room, June watches as the alien commander works a keypad with seven unmarked pentagonal buttons. From this, June "figures out" the patterns of how to work the alien's computer system...really, that's what she does.
Ok, so now Miyoshi is cornered by a bunch of guards, the alien commander, the Wookie and the indescribably hot June in the leather corset, and is forced to surrender. He and June are tossed in a cell and the commander goes off to gloat some more. On the inside of the cell (!!!) is one of those button things like what was in the throne room. June, being a smartyhead, says that if they "use a system of computation based on the number six" then they can get the computer to open the cell door. Right.
So they get the door open, knock out the lone guard, take his ray gun, and run for their lives. Before they get too far, however, they are attacked by the Wookie. Miyoshi blasts away with the ray gun, but for some reason all the bolts it the Wookie's battle axe, which somehow absorbs all the energy harmlessly. Miyoshi saves the day by killing the Wookie with an "electro-knife" straight out of the Shadowrun equipment list.
So Miyoshi and June now reach the airduct, and donning the spacesuits that were left there when they entered the ship, they head off for the Winnebago. Hmm...you know, they didn't bring an extra spacesuit with them, so how exactly were they planning on rescuing June? As it turned out, with the high casualty rate it wasn't an issue, but what would have happened had none of the human's died, what would June have wore to reach the Winnebago?
Anyway, the Winnebago races back to the Gohten, entering just in time. The alien Galleon now takes to the sky, meeting the rising Gohten for our film's climactic battle in the sky over Venus. Morrei, still flying CAP over the battle, races for home. The Galleon's lasers reach out to him and his fighter explodes. Aboard the Gohten June gasps in horror at the loss of her fiance. But it's ok, because she really loves Miyoshi, after all.
And now we have our battle between two big-ass spaceships. As is typical with these types of one-on-one spaceship battles, the two opponents basically just jockey around exchanging broadsides until one is critically damaged. The Galleon is heavily armed, with laser cannons on all decks and even lining the sides looking like oars in a Greek trireme. On several occasions the Galleon is able to cross the T on the Gohten and deliver massive poundings on the Earth ship. The Gohten fights back with it's turret-mounted lasers, "active radar missiles" and a powerful energy beam that shoots out of the same revolver carousel that the fighters came out of. They even physically ram each other twice, once after the Gohten performs an Immelmann Turn that should have torn the ship to pieces with the G-forces. Inside the Gohten, with every hit the crew execute the Star Trek-shuffle as the camera giggles and shakes.
Finally, after much mutual damage, the alien ship pulls out this ultra-powerful beam emitter and smacks the Gohten hard several times. Badly damaged, with power failing and several huge holes ripped in the hull, the Gohten sinks to the surface of Venus. The alien commander smiles smugly at his success and things look bad for our species.
Inside, as the crew despairs the critical damage, Professor Takigawa takes his leave and heads down to the bow of the ship. Before he goes, he says a lame good-bye to his daughter, who appears oblivious to what her dad is about to do.
It seems that along with this fabulous ship, Takigawa has also created a massively strong explosive, "powerful enough to blast the entire galaxy away". It works by "destroying the ether that makes up universes, an unimaginably powerful explosive can be derived." Sure. He has built this bomb into the Gohten's detachable nosecone, which can be propelled towards a target. This bomb formula is what the aliens kept trying to get from Takigawa through espionage and kidnapping.
The bomb is launched at the Galleon, as Takigawa tells the crew to get the Gohten away from the area quickly as he is going to destroy Venus also. It's very confusing (freakin' Michiko Ikeda!) but I think that Takigawa rides the bomb in like Slim in Doctor Strangelove. It certainly would go with Toho Studio's established theme of noble scientists sacrificing themselves along with their superweapons, dating back to the original 1954 Godzilla.
Hmm...Takigawa was sure taking an awful risk by firing off the bomb before he was sure the Gohten was fully capable of escaping. In fact, the crew must race against time to repair the ship's engines and systems in time to flee. Takigawa seemed to be willing to take them with him on his Kamikaze run.
So, the Galleon seems to just sits there and lets the bomb smash into the hull, driving deep inside the ship before exploding. Why? Perhaps the ship was damaged so much that it couldn't avoid the collision, perhaps the bomb was maneuverable enough to track the fleeing Galleon. Either way, the explosion disintegrates the Galleon and ends the threat of invasion once again. The smoking wreckage falls into a volcanic caldera, sending up a massive plume of fire.
As the Gohten takes off, the bomb's "special ingredient" begins to wreck havoc on Venus' structure. Volcanoes explode, lava flows, cracks and fissures open up everywhere. Venus implodes with a massive poof. The optical visuals of this are frighteningly lame, totally ruining what is supposed to be the "money shot" of the movie.
The movie ends here, thankfully without further dialogue, as the music comes to a cresendo of brass horns and trumpets. Egads, what a stinker...
Thanks for reading anyway.
Bonus! Some handy statistics for you...
1: Number of women seen in the entire movie. June, of course. I checked every scene and she's the only female cast member, extra or principal.
1: Number of cigarettes smoked by our cast. By Takigawa.
Written in June 2005 by Nathan Decker.
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