Monday, March 29, 2010

Defenders of Space

You guys remember this entry? Yeah, I wish I didn't. Still, I made a promise, and thus I sat down and watched one of these Korean animated movies recently. My choice was DEFENDERS OF SPACE, which was the first of them I ever picked up.


I'm going to attempt to do this thing justice, but truly, it is beyond the pale of badness. Imagine the worst movie you've ever seen, double it, and you're close. The sad thing is, this is still better than some of the other animated features Digiview released. Consider yourself warned.

Believe it or not, I took notes during this movie. What can I say? It kept me paying attention for the duration. This reminds me, the case lists an incorrect running time of 75 minutes. Even if you count the preview at the beginning (more on this shortly), the whole deal only clocks in at 67 minutes. You will find this to be merciful if you choose to watch.

We open rather inexplicably with a preview for the film we are about to see. Why? Damned if I know! It's a rather standard, monotone-narrated IFD trailer, but it does offer the first clue that this is going to be some of the most boring dubbing imaginable. Seriously, this is downright sleep-inducing, and I speak as a FAN of Hong Kong-produced English dubbing. It doesn't even sound as if IFD brought in their top people, and considering their catalog, that's impressive in entirely the wrong way. The trailer also includes some familiar sentai series music - I think it's "Never Stop! Changeman" from the CHANGEMAN series. Who we can thank for all of the pirated music on the soundtrack is something I'll just not worry too much about, but all signs point to it being the original filmmakers. You'll understand why, I bet.

Now, after much ado, we start talking about the movie itself. Why has it taken so long? Because it, my friends, is a mess. A fleet of evil blue people are invading, under the auspices of Emperor Nick. Look, that's his name. His chief bumblers, I mean generals, are two blue guys named Mike and something I didn't write down. Saga, maybe? These clowns are the guys in the trenches with the men, and they basically take turns insulting one another, looking smug, and screwing up royally. You can imagine where this leads them. Also among the blue people is an evil woman who is oddly not blue, but rather a pale redhead. Not passing judgment, mind you. We are led to believe she is Nick's daughter, which fine, whatever.

The blue people are launching on all-out invasion on....Earth, right? Wrong! Well, they are, but they don't make it there. Their super duper assault, which includes two strangely familiar giant robots, is on something called "Aurora". I am fuzzy on what Aurora precisely is. It is referred to as a city, but we're also given the impression it is a planet. I am assume it is an Earth colony, but I can't tell you where it's supposed to be located.

One thing is certain - Aurora is not on Mars. Because the scene then shifts to Mars, where kids have gone to play baseball. Don't ask me why Mars for baseball - it's not like anything else in this cartoon makes a lick of sense. There the movie plays the "oh, this will make a lovely pendant" card with a found object, and ahahaha, I'm sure you can guess where that will go in the plot.

Those kids return to Aurora, and wow, those bad guys didn't waste any time. The place is practically deserted and looks like one of those "many years later" establishing shots in post-WWIII movies. There is some of the obligatory weepy stuff, confrontations with blue guys, and then the scientist shows up to say they need the Phoenix King and I'm awfully confused. How does he know about the Phoenix King? He just starts talking about it with no buildup whatsoever.

The hero and heroine depart for Earth via spaceship to seek out the Phoenix King, leaving behind the useless characters. This was how I referred to them in my notes, and it's not inaccurate. The scientist provides exposition and that's about it. There is a comedy relief robot who does, ummmm, nothing, and only two of the other kids are even shown as far as I could see. There is also a guerrilla leader who appears to try to act cool. He doesn't do much, and his men do even less. Never mind then.

We get back to our hero, who manages to shoot down a missile in space by opening a hatch and shooting it with a gun. OK! I think this is where he earns his kiss from the heroine, which is just as pointless and embarrassing as everything else in the movie. When they arrive on Earth, they find...nuthin'! Seriously. Either the planet has been abandoned for some reason or they just go someplace where it's deserted.

The Phoenix King is awakened, and though represented up to this point by a very-Tezuka-like Phoenix, it ends up being a giant robot. Specifically, it ends up being a straight-up copy of the toy robot who would become Inferno of the Transformers franchise. Phoenix King flies back to Aurora with his new friends and puts a hurting on the enemy fleet. Giant robots are destroyed, and lots of blue people (and one red-headed evil chick) are killed. All the useless characters are saved, and in the climactic moment, our hero robot changes into a firetruck and puts out a fire. The universe is safe for bad animated ripoff movies again! Yay?

I left out a lot of things in this review, but believe me, you don't wanna know. This is the kind of DVD that should only be watched by masochists like me, so it may be mocked mercilessly. I realize this won't win any prizes for the most coherent review I've ever penned, but that feels oddly appropriate under the circumstances.

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