Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 27th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1977
Director: Jun Fukuda
Cast: Akihiko Hirata, Ryo Ikebe, Yuko Asano, Katsutoshi Atarashi, Kensaku Morita, Masaya Oki, Hideji Otaki, Hiroshi Miyauchi
DVD released: April 25th, 2006
Approximate running time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 and mono
DVD Release: Discotek
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
The year is 1988 and aliens that are stationed on the planet Venus stage surprise invasion against Earth. The aliens come from the empire of Galaxies and they now want to take over Earth since it resembles their dying world. Earth is quickly thrown into chaos as they aliens destroy all of the worlds major cities. Earth has only one hope and that is to finish building the spaceship Gohten. Under pressure a group of scientists’ finish building Gohten and Earth then launches its own counter attack which pushes the aliens back to where they came from. Is the aliens retreat a trick or with the help of the spaceship Gohten has Earth found their enemies greatest weakness?
War in Space was made in the same year that the phenomenally successful Starwars was released. To its credit and those involved in making War in Space it looks nothing like Starwars and the countless nock off that followed in its wake. Reportedly many of the films shots of Earth being destroyed where taken from other films. The miniatures used in War in Space range from breath taking to painfully obvious that it is a miniature. Despite there flaws these miniatures are fascinating to look at and I would take them over any fake looking CGI any day.
The fist half of the film takes place of Earth where we are introduced to the various leads and the building of the spaceship Gohten is finished before we head off into space for the remainder of the film. One minor goof during these early moments is how everyone is decked out in their disco gear and the year is supposed to be 1988 and not 1977. The rest of the look of the film like the cars driven and the various sets tend to look futuristic for their time. War in Space’s funky spaced out disco score give the film a quirky edge it would have lacked otherwise. The plot is pretty standard with things like a love triangle, a gung ho American fly boy and aliens who force their prisoners to wear bondage gear to spice things ups. War in Space is a lot of fun and most of its charm is derived from the fact the films never take’s itself seriously.
War in Space is presented in its original Toho Scope aspect ratio and it is anamorphic enhanced. The colors look vivid and nicely hued through out with natural looking flesh tones. There is no problem with artifacts, compression or edge enhancement. The image looks crystal clear and it remains stable through out.
This release comes with a variety of audio options. First up is two Japanese audio mixes one in a Dolby Digital 5.1 and the other mix is the films’ original mono soundtrack. The other audio mix is an English dubbed language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. While purists may be quick to dismiss the inclusion of an English audio track it is professionally done and the voice actors all did amazing work for this mix. The two Japanese audio mixes are in slightly better shape then the English audio mix with has noticeable hiss through out. Two types of English subtitles have been included for this release. You have your Standard English subs that cover all dialog and titles cards that appear on the screen and then there is also a second one included that exclusively for these title cards that appear in Japanese. These second more simplified subtitles are best used when listing to the English audio mix. Both subtitles that are included are easy to read and follow with no spelling errors.
Extras for this release include the films original trailer in Japanese with English subtitles and a photo gallery. Other extras include an eight page booklet which details the history of the film, poster and vehicle diagrams. Rounding out the extras is a thirty two minute interview with special effects director Teriyoshi Nakano who gives a detailed and enthusiastic overview of the production. Discotek has also included for this release trailers for Lupin the Third: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy and Mikadroid: Robokill beneath Discoclub Layla.
Discotek has only been around a brief time and with each new release they continue to improve in leaps and bounds. War in Space is their most impressive DVD release to date. Fans who are nostalgic for classic Sci-Fi pre-CGI will want to check out War in Space a rousing space opera that reminds us of simpler times, highly recommended.
For more information about War in Space visit Discotek here.