Now this is going to be an interesting movie to watch because I am going into this with no knowledge of the source material. See, I enjoy watching anime and reading manga so I have heard several references to Space Battleship Yamato over the years, but I never got around to trying to watch it. Then a few years ago, I saw that today’s movie was “finally being released in the U.S.”. Now I honestly thought that this was the original series or original anime movie getting an actual release so I went ahead and bought it on an impulse buy only to learn later that this was actually a live action movie that was made back in 2010. Oh well, one of these days I will learn to actually read the description before buying something (probably not). Anyways, on with today’s movie, Space Battleship Yamato (2010).
The plot: In the year 2194, an alien race called the Gamilas, who fire meteorite bombs at the planet which irradiates the surface In the year 2199, the Earth Defense Force launches a counter offensive against the Gamilas and the two fleets battle near Mars but the Earth fleet’s weapons have no effect on the Gamilas ships. As the Gamilas fire back and begin destroying the fleet. Captain Okita realizes that they have no chance against the enemy and orders the fleet to escape and Mamoru Kodai, whose ship is badly damaged, sacrifices his own ship to ensure Okita’s ship escapes. On Earth, Kodai’s brother Susumu Kodai is scavenging for metal on the Earth’s surface when an object crashes to Earth near him and knock him unconscious. When he comes too, he is surprised to find that the radiation in the area has been cleaned and the crashed object is an alien message pod before passing out again, just as Okita’s ship returns to Earth. Okita’s ship picks up Kodai and the pod, discovering that the pod contains schematics for a warp drive that they can use to travel farther in space. Suddenly, Kodai makes his way to the bridge, accusing Okita of letting his brother die to save himself and moves to hit him but he ends up being knocked down by Yuki Mori, a top fighter pilot, who chastises him for not fighting. As Kodai is escorted from the bridge, Dr. Sado apologizes for what happened and they all wonder how he is still alive, believing him to have absorbed a lethal dose of radiation. As Okita is speaking with Heikuro Todo, the leader of the Defense Force, Todo wants to use their last ship to leave the Earth and find a new home but Okita says they should use it for one last chance in defeating the Gamilas. Todo goes on the air and explains that the message pod was from a planet called Iskandar and that they have a device that can cleanse the radiation from the Earth and revitalize it’s surface, as well as schematics for a new warp engine so they can make the journey. Todo requests volunteers for the mission and Kodai decides to reenlist, shocking Dr. Sado that he is still alive. As he is making his way through the ship, Kodai is approached by Yuki, who wonders why he signed up. Before Kodai can respond, an alarm sounds and Kodai heads to the bridge while telling Yuki to get her fighter ready to go in case she is needed. As he reaches the bridge, Kodai realizes that he is onboard the Yamato and takes his station only to learn that the Gamilas have fired a giant missile at the them. Okita orders the wave cannon the be fired, despite protests that it hasn’t been tested, but they manage to destroy the missile and head off to Iskandar. As they make their way through space, Kodai is reunited with his old fighter group but as they are reminiscing, Yuki gets annoyed with them and continues to attack Kodai’s quitting the fleet some years earlier. The Yamato tests out the warp engine and warp from Mars to Jupiter, but end up being attacked by a Gamilas fleet. Yuki goes out alone to disable the mothership’s while the Yamato and as she is beginning to be overwhelmed, she is rescued by the other members of her squadron. After Yuki and the others “paint the target”, Kodai fires the Yamato’s cannons and destroys the mothership’s engines, causing an implosion that wipes out the fleet. Yuki’s ship damaged during the fleets destruction and unable to make it back to the ship so Kodai abandons his post to go rescue her. when Gamilas fighters begin using kamikaze attacks on the Yamato, Okita orders some last minute evasive maneuvers to avoid them while allowing Kodai time to get back on board with Yuki, then they quickly warp out of there. Inside the hangar, Kodai is able to revive Yuki and Dr. Sado has her taken to sick bay for evaluation when they see Okita there with the commando team to escort Kodai to the brig. As the ship leaves the solar system, the crew is allowed one minute to say goodbye to their families on Earth. Meanwhile, Chief Engineer Tokugawa and Dr. Sado pay a visit to Kodai in the brig and as they are drinking, tell him about how Okita’s son was also killed during the Mars attack. Kodai is allowed to use the communicator and runs into Yuki as she is leaving, who is upset that he risked the ship to save her. Kodai asks that she just be a little nicer to him before entering the room but since he has no family, he simply talks to his analyzer. Meanwhile, Yuki is speaking with Shima about Kodai and learns that the reason that Kodai had quit flying was because he had tried to divert a meteor bomb from striking the Earth but it ended up hitting a space station, killing his parents. As the Yamato warps out of the solar system, they discover a Gamilas fighter adrift close by and Okita orders it brought on board for study but then falls ill. He is taken to his quarters and Dr. Sado tells him that he won’t last long. In the hangar, Kodai and the others are examining the Gamilas ship when it’s pilot attacks them before being shot by Saito, the commando leader. Saito is taken over by the alien’s consciousness and speaks with Kodai and the others, saying it’s name is Dessla and the Gamilas are terraforming the Earth to serve their purposes. Kodai stuns Saito, causing Dessla to leave his body and the other commandos shoot it when it is in it’s crystaline form. Kodai is summoned to see Okita, who asks him to be Acting Captain but when Kodai refuses, Okita forces the issue by making it an order and announcing it to the crew. Unknown to the crew, the alien fighter serves acts as a homing beacon for the Gamilas fleet and when the Yamato comes under attack, Kodai orders it ejected and destroyed while he heads back to the bridge. They manage to destroy the attackers but a stealth ship attaches itself to the third bridge and charges up to explode. Faced with no choice, Kodai orders Yuki to fire on the third bridge, severing it from the Yamato so the explosion doesn’t destroy the ship. Afterwards, Kodai goes to speak with Okita about what happened and says he shouldn’t be Acting Captain but Okita tells says that he made the right decision, difficult as it was, and he is doing a fine job. Kodai then goes to console Yuki, apologizing for giving her the order and the two end up kissing as the Yamato enters another warp. The Yamato finally reaches Iskandar, which resembles Earth before the attack, but they find a Gamilas fleet waiting for them and as they come under attack, the Gamilas fires a missile that blocks the wave motion cannon. Facing begin destroyed, Kodai orders an emergency warp and they manage to safely warp to the other side of the planet, finding it completely barren and realize that Iskandar and Gamilas are the same planet. As Kodai and the others discuss the situation, Saito feels like it is a trap while Sando, the Chief Science Officer, thinks the radiation cleansing technology was a false hope. Kodai says that the technology that was sent to them wasn’t meant as a trap and they will still go find the device and restore the Earth. Kodai comes up with a plan of attack and gives a speech to the crew of the Yamato before flying off for his part in the attack. They manage to make it to the surface but most of the Black Tiger squadron and commandos die during the attack, leaving Kodai, Yuki, Saido, and Sando to press on. As they approach the center, Yuki is possessed by the Iskandar, who explain that the Iskandar and Gamilas are two halves of the same race, having evolved into a hive mind. The Iskandar explain that their planet is dying and the Iskandar accept that but the Gamilas don’t, which is why they invaded Earth. They tell Kodai and the others that there is no device to cleanse the radiation, something Kodai knows is true as Okita told him that before he left, but the Iskandar say that their energy will be enough to cleanse the Earth. Kodai and the others start to head back to their ships when they see the Gamilas’ power core and Saito and Sando stay behind to blow it up, allowing Kodai and Yuki time to get to their ship and head back to the Yamato. As they make their way to Earth, Kodai tells Okita the news and he thanks him, then dismisses him and Dr. Sado from his room as he wishes to die alone. The Yamato arrives close to Earth and makes contact with Todo, who is happy to hear that they succeeded in their mission. Suddenly, they come under attack from a massive Gamilas ship and they are contacted by Dessla, who tells them that the Gamilas’ plans to colonize Earth has been stalled but they refuse to let them have the Earth either, and he disappears as the Gamilas ship opens up and prepares to perform a kamikaze attack on the Earth in order to destroy it. Kodai asks on the status of the weapons and hearing that they are all out of commission, decides to ask Okita for advise only to see Dr. Sado arrive on the bridge and indicate that Okita is dead. Trying to figure out what to do, Kodai asks if there is enough power to fire the wave-motion cannon, and when he is told that there is enough power for one shot, he orders everyone to abandon the ship. Yuki and Shima want to stay with Kodai but Kodai tells Shima he has to leave and ensure that Yuki makes it to Earth, or else their mission was all for naught. As the crew salutes and leaves the bridge, Yuki stays behind, asking what was the point of saving the Earth when he won’t be there with her. Kodai hugs her, telling her that all he wanted was to make a better world for her to live in. He then tells her he loves her and asks her to forgive him, before stunning her and telling Shima to take her, placing a picture of him and his brother in her jacket before he does. The surviving crew makes it to the escape ship and as they fly past the bridge, they all salute, with Yuki coming too and screaming at Kodai to get out there. Kodai pilots the Yamato towards the Gamilas ship, which begins firing on him, and he sees the spirits of all of his friends that died during the mission. Once he gets close enough to the ship, he activates the wave-motion cannon, which is still blocked, and the backlash results in an explosion that destroys both ships. Some time later, Yuki is standing on a hilltop looking out at the land, which has been cleansed of the radiation and plants are growing again, when she hears someone cry out “Mommy” and she is joined by the child she had with Kodai.
As far as a sci-fi movie goes, this is pretty good, though it does kind of follow a somewhat typical plot. The acting was pretty good and I did like the character development that Kodai went through throughout the movie. Since I have never seen any of the other versions, I can’t say how this compares to them but I thought the story was pretty good, but not entirely original. However, I feel this has more to do with when the original story took place, as there have been dozens, if not hundreds, of sci-fi movies following a similar plot line so the subject just felt boring. The special effects were pretty good and did help make some of the scenes pretty impressive. I also liked the crystaline consciousness of the Galimas and how they would possess people to communicate, except for the last time Dessla spoke with Kodai and the others. A fun movie to watch and worth giving a shot if you are interested.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5