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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
The Last Day of the Earth is Approaching!March 7 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
The DVD case for The Mysterians aka Chikyu Boeigun (1959) - the IMDb lists a release year of 1957 (12/28/57, to be exact), so maybe 1959 was the year it made it to the U.S. - states `The Greatest science fiction picture ever conceived by the mind of man.' That's seems like a pretty haughty claim, especially for a film made by a studio (Toho) most famous for movies featuring guys in rubber suits crushing miniature buildings...and after watching the film last night, I feel it didn't quite live up to said claim, but still, it was fun nonetheless (besides, would your interest be peaked in a film that claimed something like `Not the greatest science fiction film in the world, but it will do in a pinch'? Probably not...)...directed by legendary Japanese director and Academy Award winner Ishirô Honda, the creator of Godzilla, The Mysterians was Toho Studios 1st wide screen sci-fi color release (Rodan was the 1st Toho monster film color release, also directed by Honda...some may claim Rodan is a sci-fi film, and it does have many sci-fi elements, but it will always be a monster film to me). Appearing in the film is Kenji Sahara (King Kong vs. Godzilla, Attack of the Mushroom People), Yumi Shirakawa (Rodan), Momoko Kochi (Godzilla), Akihiko Hirata (Rodan, Gorath, the Mysterious Star), and Takashi Shimura (The Seven Samurai, Godzilla).
As the film starts, we see a village of Asian peoples celebrating something or other, only to be interrupted by a fire consuming a nearby forest. Three men foolishly decide to try and put out the massive fire, with predictable results (do you like your sushi fried?). Later said village suffers yet another disaster in that a giant sinkhole swallows them whole...better luck in the next life, I suppose. An investigation provides little information, except for the presence of radioactivity (that's never a good sign, doubly so in a film like this) and this marks the appearance of what looks like a giant, metal, flightless bird that shoots destructive eyebeams. Whatever was left of the village is now completely gone, and the army soon arrives to deal with the menace. There's the obligatory fleeing of Asian peoples, and the creature is finally brought down, and it is learned that it is not of this Earth. Turns out the creature was controlled by a group of aliens, from the planet Mysteroid (I had a case of mysteroids once...got some cream from the drugstore and it went away) calling themselves, aptly enough, Mysterians, who have decided to take up residence on the Earth, and used the mechanical creature as a demonstration of their awesoma powers. What the heck do these Mysterians, who've arrived from the dark side of the moon (there's a Pink Floyd joke in there somewhere), want? Well, I'll give you a hint, it has something to do with our wimmin...I've come to the conclusion females are among the scarcest commodity in the universe. Anyway, beside the wimmin, they have other demands (I think if they just wanted some wimmin, we probably would have acquiesced, but then they got greedy...let that be a lesson to all you aliens out there), demands the Earth aren't willing to meet, and that means all out war! Whoo hoo! Let the fireworks begin (literally...I think some of the scenes featured actual fireworks)!
I did enjoy this film immensely, but I also had a few problems with it...the biggest fault, I suppose, is the story often gets bogged down as the characters seem to be in a continual state of conferencing and holding meetings, trying to decide how to deal with the aliens. This was certainly one way to dole out the exposition, but if all the meeting scenes were removed, the 88-minute runtime would have probably been reduced to about an hour. I wasn't even born at the time this film came out, but I gotta figure the effects were pretty amazing, in all their full color glory. They still come off really well. The rubber bird suit looked pretty funky (strangely, our handguns have no effect on the creature!), but everything else was top notch, especially the realistic nature of miniatures. Apparently the giant creature wasn't initially part of the story, but the producer decided the film needed a giant creature, so maybe that's why it has an odd fit with relation to the rest of the film. The Mysterians looked pretty cool, sort of like retro Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (who I don't care much for, and probably even less now as it would appear they `borrowed' their costume concept from here). I think one of my favorite elements of the film is the music, created by legendary composer Akira Ifukube. It's very distinct, aggressive (as the aliens), and indicates some operatic influences (think of the effectiveness of Wagner's The Ride of the Valkyries and its usage in Francis For Coppola's Apocalypse Now during the helicopter scene). Seems rare to find a composer these days whose music blends in so nicely with the material on the screen.
The picture, in TohoScope (the early Japanese equivalent of widescreen anamorphic), is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (this was one of the first Japanese films to see such a release), and looks wonderful. There are a few scratches present (especially during the air combat sequences), but I sure this will probably blow away any VHS copy you may possess. As for the audio, there are five separate tracks available in English 5.1 Surround, Japanese 5.1 Surround, Japanese Mono, Spanish Mono, a commentary track featuring a moderator and two special effects artists named Koichi Kawakita and Shinji Higuchi (they all speak in Japanese, but there are English subtitles), and finally you can watch the film with music only. Other special features include a photo gallery, design gallery, storyboards, an original trailer, and previews for Matango - Attack of the Mushroom People (1963), Dogora (1964), Varan (1962), Gappa The Triphibian Monster (1967), and One Missed Call (2003).
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Saturday Afternoon at the MoviesFeb. 11 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
I can't imagine anyone buying this movie WITHOUT having seen it in their youth. Sure, the special effects look like upsidedown salad bowls but when this movie came out - it was the best of that time. The Mysterians had everything - alien spacecraft, laser shootouts, space flight, and a musical score I can still remember from childhood. Sci-Fi movies of that time not only had worse special effects (videos of V-2 rockets flipped 90 degrees to appear in horizontal flight), but the effects were only seen on the screen for a short time. Not the Mysterians or its sister movie Battle In Outer Space. This movie is 50's and 60's sci-fi at it's best. I stood in long lines to see this movie and other's of those days such as Gorgo and Destination Moon. Now I'm just waiting to get this classic on DVD.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Just like I rememberedJan. 5 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
I remember a hot summer afternoon in 1960. The newspaper was showing a picture of this huge robot with death rays shooting out of its eyes, so being thirteen years old at the time, I just had to go. What I saw just blew my mind away. Remember, this was early days in the world of special effects. George lucas was still waiting for his acne to clear up and Star trek was several years in the future. Godzilla was still fresh in everyone's memory as well as Rodan and I had been too young to see them. This movie was beyond anything that had been out before. It was a true war of the future. It had jets, strange rocket powered airships, tanks, and a weird weapon called a Markalite that fired off a fuzzy death ray against the sinister alien dome that was equipped with its own death ray. and the dome was protected by a force field that repelled all sorts of explosive shells. There was a huge earthquake that swallowed a town whole and did not even leave a dog alive. (except for a single scientist and three beautiful girls saved by the aliens for truly evil reasons) And, oh yes, that huge robot with the death ray eyes. And then there was that music score. I had never noticed a movie score before (excepting Rogers and Hammerstein), but I remembered this one! Even after forty five years, I can still hum the theme that played when the good guys attacked. It was an afternoon of pure theatre.
After that I was sure to see it every time it came up on tv, and when video tape became available, It was one of the first movies I looked for and I was elated when I finally got a poorly printed, truncated version of it. Then I found this DVD version.
This version is clear and sharp, the sound is good, and much of the original footage that had been cut out for television was restored. Then there was the audio commentary by a pair of japanese film makers. I learned that while some models were used, Those were real Japanese soldiers,tanks,and weapons for the most part. (There was, of course, no such thing as a Japanese Army at the time, but there was a so-called Self Defense Force that served the same purpose.)
This DVD is a must have, not only for the occasional nostalgia buff, but an important piece of Movie History. It was the true forerunner of Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek, and if you look closely, you will see many effects used for the first time that were to become a staple of later sci fi classics.
But most of all It's just a good old fashioned, rip roaring adventure, complete with a brave hero, damsels in distress, evil villains, repentant dupe who dies to bring on the villains defeat, and wise, clever scientists working against the clock to save the world.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
another found classicAug. 29 2005
Richard I. Caplan
- Published on Amazon.com
For any TRUE fan of 50's scifi (especially the horribly dubbed japanese monster movies), this ranks right up there with Rodan, gozilla, and Mothera. It has everything you could ask for. Stereotypical Asians, miniture war machinery, giant monster, unfriendly aliens (as opposed to illegal aliens) and so much more.
The model villages, the puppets, planes on wires, flying saucers...there's too much to mention.
There's no use even thinking about this one. You must have it in your collection.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
If you like aliens destroying miniatures in Japanese movies, then "The Mysterians" is for youMarch 17 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
There are a handful of movies that I remember seeing on television in the 1960s, and one of them was "The Mysterians" ("Chikyu Boeigun," which translates as "Earth Defense Force"), so watching the movie for the first time in almost forty years was interesting to say the least. All I really remember is the neat name of the titular aliens and the giant bubble dome structure that the Japanese military keeps attacking without success for most of the movie. But the biggest surprise is to learn that it was not "Seven Samurai" or "Rashomon" but this 1957 science fiction film from Toho Studio where I first saw the great character actor Takashi Shimura, who plays Dr. Tanjiro Adachi.
"The Mysterians" brings together the creative team behind the original "Godzilla," with director Ishiro Honda, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, and Eiji Tsuburaya doing the special effects for the first film shot in TohoScope. The aliens come from the planet in our solar system that used to be between Jupiter and Mars, but was destroyed because of an atomic war. The survivors come to earth so that they can breed with Earth women and repopulate their race (to be clear, this is a decade before the lamentable "Mars Needs Women" starring Tommy Kirk). The Mysterians also need three kilometers of land around their bubble (presumably so they can take the Earth women for walks in between breeding sessions). The demand for land, certainly a rare commodity in the floating kingdom of Japan, seems to be what provokes the military response from the Japanese government, while the young scientist investigating what is going on is more upset about their targeting his girlfriend.
The strength of this film are the scenes involving miniatures, both the ones where the Mysterians cause some natural disasters but more so when the army attacks the alien dome. There is some TohoScope footage of actual Japanese Defense Forces, and also some shots of the U.S military (we show up to help our allies), but our affection remains for the miniature tanks and cannons. Yes, there is a guy in a monster suit early on, but that is the least fun part of the movie compared to the floods and earthquakes. It is amazing how willing you are to sit and watch everything do no damage to that damn dome, although it changes color from time to time. But there is lots of action and in the end the Earthlings trot out a rocket ship to save the day.
Seeing the Mysterians (the aliens) is like looking at the ancestors of the Power Rangers, what with their bright pastel colored cloaks and crash helmets (but kewl shades). The scientific debates tend to get silly (why would anyone think the giant robot is alive?), but they certainly take the proceedings seriously enough. That is why I happily admit the rating here is based almost exclusively on the special effects with the miniatures, my nostalgic memories, and Takashi Shimura being in the movie.
Warning: Unless you instruct it otherwise you will watch the film dubbed into English, which is really the only way to watch Japanese science fiction movies, a rule that does not apply to the works of Kurosawa and other Japanese masters of cinema (so do not expect the hobgoblin of consistency to rear its ugly little head in this respect). However, the commentary track by special effects supervisors Koichi Kawakita and Shinji Higuchi is what is in Japanese with subtitles. You will also find the original theatrical trailer, which unlike the other previews included has subtitles, and some galleries. The fact there is a commentary track for this film is another reason to justify rounding up.