Monday, April 25, 2016

MR Gatchaman Live Action

Battle of the Planets! Meet the G-Force, five incredible young people with superpowers! And watching over them from Centre Neptune, 7-Zark-7!

Watching, warning against surprise attacks by alien galaxies from beyond space. G-Force! Fearless young orphans, protecting Earth's entire galaxy.

Always five, acting as one. Dedicated! Inseparable! Invincible! 

Well, except when you do the origin story. Because these type of groups always start dysfunctional.
Ooh~wan, wan, wan, Ooh~jin, jin, jin. Yatta, yatta, yatta... Let's review TATSUNOKO series!

Movie: Gatchaman: Live Action Movie, also known as Gatchaman (2013)
Directed by Toya Sato
Release date 2013
Genre Action/Scifi/Tokusatsu Japanese film
Country Japan

What is Gatchaman, you ask?

An original 1972 anime by popular animation studio Tatsunoko originally titled "Science Ninja Team Gatchaman" created by Tatsuo Yoshida. It was later edited in 1978 outside Japan as "Battle of the Planets". And there also was a second less popular re-edit in 1986 as "G-Force: Guardians of Space". Despite some changes to the backstory, setting and motivation of the characters the basic pitch is always the same: the show follows 5 young heroes protecting earth from over-the-top alien villains trying to conquer our planet. Those 5 heroes form an all bird-themed superteam!

Thanks to its huge popularity and place in pop culture, there's been several adaptations and reinterpretations of the series over the decade. Animated movies, OVAs, series, mangas and video games. Even a pretty fun American comic book series which I already discussed about over here.

In 2013 Gatchaman was adapted into its first "live action" movie adaptation under the direction of Toya Sato. Produced by Nippon Television, Nikkatsu and Django Film, while Toho took care of the distribution.

How did it fare compared to the original series?

The story of the movie actually sticks rather close to the original anime.

It all begins immediately like any episode of the show, as Tokyo's being attacked by another giant robot sent by the Galactor (Spectra in the Westernized Battle of the Planets). You see, in 2050 Earth was taken over by mysterious alien invader forces. They already took over half of the world, a few countries are still fighting the invasion.

But the human race is about to finally start to fight back Galactors. Along the aliens also came these strange mysterious stones that actually have the power to kill them. The International Science Organization located in Japan has been training a few young recruits to use those powers and equipped them with tech and weapons embed by these stones. They even build this huge spacecraft, which makes a later fun appearance in the film, the God Phoenix.

Dr. Kozaburo Nambu is the head of the project and he has been training these kids, these "Receptors" to be the weapon which will defeat the Galactor. They are "Gatchaman"!

Their leader Ken the Eagle (Mark), the tenacious Jun the Swan (Princess), her young brother Jinpei the Swallow (Tiny) and the tech genius Ryu the Owl (Keyop). (Well actually, they don't have the bird names in the film. In fact now that I think about it, they completely removed the bird features from their helmets and cape in this film..)

They're later joined by an old friend of Ken, George Joe the Condor (Jason). But this rebel seems to have some issues with Ken as a leader.

Will they be enough to put a stop to the leader of the Galactor, the flamboyant Berge Katse (Zoltar in the American dub)!?

This Gatchaman movie is actually a fairly faithful adaption of the original series. It sticks pretty close to the plot of the original classic anime, all things considered.

Sure there was some changes to either take some shortcuts in this ling-running series or simplify a couple of details. As well as some more questionable changes for the sake of changes, as you would expect from a live action film. But they try to keep most of the original series as possible.

What I'm not entirely sold on are the modifications made to Gatchaman for the sake of modernizing the cartoon.

Also, the film is almost two hours long, and yet not much happen in it. It's basically an origin story that tries to incorporate as many plot points from the anime as possible. There's a lot of flashbacks and dialogues which starts dragging the plot past-mid point. The tone is also  kind of too serious for the franchise. It all starts to slow down once moved past the introduction of Joe. I can't believe I'm saying this, but we would have been better off with one or two more additional action scenes for once. There's not a lot of things happening here.

The film features a pretty decent young cast (mostly known for working on J-dramas), starring Tori Matsuzaka as Ken, Gō Ayano as Joe, Ayame Goriki (Biblia Koshodo no Jiken Techo, Kurokochi) as Jun, Tatsuomi Hamada as Jinpei, Ryohei Suzuki as Ryu, Gorō Kishitani as the best representation of the original series as Dr. Nambu, Ken Mitsuishi as Dr. Kirkland and finally Eriko Hatsune as Ryu and Joe's old flame Naomi.

The main problem in the film lies in the whole aesthetic, I think. It all just doesn't look very appealing nor colorful, trying to make the film as hi-tech, sleek and modern it all just ends up looking kind of bland and dull. The director clearly wanted to both match the design of the hilarious and silly
Yatterman live action as well as the tone of current American superhero movies...

The film tries pretty much to feel as action-packed and competent as the Yatterman film, only it just seems a lot less fun and taking itself way too seriously.

The story is close to the original Gatchaman series, but some of the changes made for the film are kind of strange. The fact all the heroes were orphans who lost their parents due to the invasion is kind of glossed upon for the love triangle between Ken, Joe and this Naomi.. which ends up taking over the entire film in the final act.

I would have preferred some colors for the Gatchaman team, not this much serious business! They even lost the whole bird-theme going on! I mean if fans can make these fun looks work..

My other main issue with the film is with the villain who was this ambiguous male or female alien leader, who ends up here looking like a Doronjo-ripoff for some reason, probably just to have a familiar design for the Yatterman movie-going audience since she was used so much in promotional material for the film (and, hey, just to had some sexy villain for the film).

The music was composed by Nima Fakhrara. It's decent, but kind of forgettable. I was kind of surprised they didn't even allude to any music from the anime and not even feature a cover of the original theme song. The film does have a big J-pop song attached to it, "Niji wo Matsu Hito" performed by Bump of Chicken.

Overall, Gatchaman is a pretty fun, if somewhat underwhelming adaptation of the classic anime.

I enjoyed it, but it also left a lot to be desired. It feels like this could have been a lot better in the hands of someone caring more for the franchise. The few little action scenes there are in the film do look pretty nice. The effect are somewhat fun. But the final act was pretty dull.

I waited pretty long to see someone release the film outside Japan, but the original release actually contains English subtitles, so there's that. For some annoyingly reason they kept subtitling Joe's name as George even though everyone was clearly saying Joe through the film. It's not just the subtitles even the few texts on screen have him called George. And then I remember, in the show Joe was actually an Italian/Japanese descendant originally named George Asakura, Joe was just a nickname! So that's where the "George" name came from! (But they were calling him Joe throughout the film anyways...)

If you're a fan of Tokusatsu films or animes, Check it Out!

I give it:
1.5 / 3 Astroboys!

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