Message from Space

Message from Space (宇宙からのメッセージ, Uchū Kara no Messēji) Blu-ray cover

A peaceful people almost driven to extinction, the last survivors of the once beautiful planet of Jillucia are under attack by the forces of the Gavanas under the command of the ruthless Emperor Rockseia XII, their last hope that the “brave warriors, sophisticated and noble” of legend will come to their aid, brought to them by the mystical Liabe seeds which have been scattered into space even as Princess Emeralida and her protector Urocco have fled on her light sail space galleon.

What the eight seeds find is a motley assortment of misfits and has-beens, among them speed fanatics Shiro and Aaron whose last encounter with the space police has left their ships in need of expensive repairs brokered by con man Jack, spoiled heiress Meia, disillusioned recently retired General Garuda and his robot Beba-2, and Prince Hans, the heir to Gavanas now in exile having been deposed by Rockseia who murdered his parents.

Message from Space (宇宙からのメッセージ, Uchū Kara no Messēji); Shiro and Aaron (Hiroyuki Sanada and Philip Casnoff) find they are called to be heroes.

Thrown into production following the huge success of Star Wars when it opened in the United States in 1977, scheduled to be released in Japan late the following summer, it was intended that Message from Space (宇宙からのメッセージ, Uchū Kara no Messēji) would beat it into cinemas by a healthy margin, and premiering in April 1978 that aim was a success although the final product could not compare with the excitement and adventure found a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, experienced in science fiction from his unfortunate encounter with The Green Slime a decade earlier, like that film it mixed an international cast to expand appeal, starring Vic Morrow, Philip Casnoff and Peggy Lee Brennan as Garuda, Aaron and Meia alongside Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Shihomi and Hiroyuki Sanada as Hans, Emeralida and Shiro with the prolific Mikio Narita as the villainous Rockseia XII, his menace somewhat deflated by his frequent consultations with his mother.

Message from Space (宇宙からのメッセージ, Uchū Kara no Messēji); Princess Emeralida (Etsuko Shihomi) is captured by the forces of Emperor Rockseia XII.

Casnoff and Brennan cast from a production of Grease, their enthusiasm seems intended to distract from the shortcomings of the childish script, the copious effects work similarly concentrating on quantity over quality, matching the style of the later television show X Bomber (Xボンバー, Ekkusu Bonbā), also known as Star Fleet, itself also heavily influenced by Star Wars, though with characters at one point swimming through vacuum to catch fireflies the level of science recalls an earlier puppet show, Fireball XL5.

A patchwork of styles and influences with little original thought or inspiration, a cash-in rather than a dynamic proposition, with space walnuts, space discos, desert settings and copious reused footage of space battles Message from Space is more Glen A Larson than George Lucas but is enjoyable for its ambition, making its Blu-ray debut as part of Eureka’s Masters of Cinema range with an unabashed appreciation by fan Patrick Macias, a commentary by Tom Mes, trailers and galleries showcasing the brilliant production art and the full-sized ship sets built on location.

Message from Space will be available on Blu-ray from Eureka from Monday 22nd July

Message from Space (宇宙からのメッセージ, Uchū Kara no Messēji); Princess Emeralida's space galleon cruises serenely on light sails.



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