Friday, August 3, 2012

Raiders of Galaxy

Another foray into the work of Korean mecha plagiarists. The good news is there’s no political messages in this one. And yeah, that’s the best news I’ve got. That something bad isn’t in it.

We open on THE WORST OPENING CREDITS IN THE WORLD, a bunch of plain white text on a plain red background. After a while, looking at this starts to hurt the eyes.

Some kind of space fog with eyes appears and talks to a bald, pointy-eared alien named Andrew, commanding him to conquer Earth at all costs. Also the rest of the solar system, but I guess it’s not expecting a lot of resistance from uninhabited gas giants.

Next we see a human-crewed spaceship where they talk about getting weird, unknown interference lately, just as it happens again. I’d ask if any of them thought to consider the strange glowing object outside their windshield, but their captain DOES notice it and orders them to find out what it is. They fail to identify it, but at least they saw it.

They start to head off-course and attempt to steer back into their orbital path. With an old ship’s steering wheel. This fails, so the captain gets on the PA and launches into the longest, most rambling emergency announcement you ever heard.

“I have an announcement to make. Listen well, everyone. The situation is critical. We’re being approached by a spacecraft of which we know nothing, whose presence coincides with the ship veering off-course inexplicably, and our transmissions are being blocked, so I declare a red state of emergency. You know what that means. Be ready for the worst, and good luck to everyone.”

The only reason they get to hear the end of that is they aren’t actually being attacked. The UFO, a flying saucer that’s transparent for some reason, grabs the ship with some kind of tractor beam and flies away with it.

On Earth, a general anime scientist, this one named Dr. Han, is overseeing the final tests of a new battle robot, Super Mazinga 3. And yeah, it looks kinda like the granddaddy of anime battle mecha, Mazinga Z (clever name change, guys). Even down to having what looks like the hovercraft vehicle lodged in its head, even though that appears to be just a solid part of the robot, and not a separate vehicle the pilots use to get in.

Its piloted by a crew of three Personality-Free Protagonists. Boring Clean-Cut Hero David, Token Girl Angie (Dr. Han presumably kept his original name, but everyone else is occidental?), and Comic Relief Chubby Guy, Piggy. Who has a British accent. I think. The voice acting’s even worse than in Solar Adventure, so the accent might even be Australian.

Dr. Han says something about blocking strange frequencies, so I assumed they knew about the interference that crippled the ship before it was captured and immunized the robot against it. But later he seems in the dark about how the aliens are capturing human ships, so I guess not.

They fly into space as part of the final test, but while they’re up there, they’re attacked by the flying saucer. They prove unable to hit the thing with Mazinga 3’s guns, so they reveal that it has a little fighter ship on the back that looks suspiciously like a re-colored King Arrow from Goshogun (or Macron-1, stateside), and its boots detach into yet another fighter ship. Even ganging up on the saucer this way, they still fail to hit it and after a lot of repeated footage of the same shots being fired from the various ships, the saucer leaves unscathed.

Then we’re back on Earth again, where two kids are playing catching with a pair of robots. For some reason, even though the ball they’re using is about the size of a tennis ball, when they throw it they toss it up and serve it like a volleyball. And this game involves running bases, somehow. While going to get the ball, one of the kids sees a suspicious guy in a fedora and dark coat hiding in the bushes and looking over at Mazinga 3’s base (at least, I assume that’s what that building is). In fact, seen from different angles, this base looks a lot like the Good Thunder fortress from Goshogun.

Feel the power!

The suspicious guy takes pictures of the base and Mazinga as it flies past, then walks into some trees and disappears. The kids wonder who he was and one of the robots is able to “logically deduce that he was a spy from outer space.”

Yeah, what garage sale did they get you at, clanky?

See how suspicious I am? I'm THIS suspicious!

Some guy calls Dr. Han and tells him about losing contact with human spaceships, including “the Korean investigation space base.” Whatever the hell that means. Dr. Han calls David and Angie (no mention of Piggy) to his office to tell them what he’s heard. Only David comes, and hears about the doctor about the “Korean investigation space base,” which apparently was the one that was carried away at the beginning. This is significant because Angie’s mom was on it. So it’s a tiny bit suspicious when a car carrying Angie’s mom suddenly drives up to the base.

Yeah, speaking of that…maybe it’d do more good to just show you.

This is only the most blatant instance, too. The music where the kids are playing ball was from that same show (the beepy instrumental version of the end theme). So was the “imminent danger” music when they followed the spy into the woods.

Angie’s mom starts to act suspicious, taking an interest in Mazinga. Dr. Han picks up on her keen interest in their robot, but David won’t listen to him. How dare he suspect Angie’s mom, who is, um, back on Earth with no explanation even attempted? Our heroes.

That night Angie’s mom sneaks out and into the mecha hangar, which appears to have no security measures at all with the way she just walks in and tries to plant a bomb on Mazinga 3. Yeah, that thing probably only cost their entire GDP. Why bother protecting it?

She’s caught in the act when the little girl from the ballgame earlier goes into the hangar to admire Mazinga (again, nobody and nothing there to stop her). “That fist alone is as strong as a tanker, and look at the gigantic body! And those sparkling eyes! And the lady up there planting a bomb on the head!” Okay, not that last part, but with how idiotic these Joseph Lai movies are, you wouldn’t be surprised. In fact what does happen is even dumber, because the little girl thinks Angie’s mom is a ghost, and goes to tell Angie.

Caught, Angie’s mom pulls a gun and suddenly her skin’s green, then suddenly it’s back to normal. She jumps off Mazinga, all the way to the ground, and lands without a scratch. I’d say that was meant to tell us she’s not human, but two seconds later Angie does the same thing, from even higher, and isn’t hurt either. You know, you may not want to take the audience’s suspension of disbelief for granted, even in a kids’ movies. And after that “capitalist bastards” thing in Solar Adventure...

Piggy hits the alarm which summons zero of the armed guards we saw outside. It does get David’s attention, and he runs into Angie’s mom, holding her up just long enough for Angie to catch up to her and rip her mask off. Which is exactly the same as her real face, except not green. Wow, that’s a coincidence.

While they’re trying to interrogate the spy, two lookouts fail to do their job as the flying saucer from before lands outside the base and splits open to reveal a giant robot. So these guys saw Grendizer, too. It starts punching through the skylight of the control room to grab their captured spy, prompting Dr. Han to order that the “shutter-proof shields” be closed. The WHAT-proof shields??

As you’d expect, they roll out Mazinga, but as before fail to accomplish much. After much poorly-animated kicking and punching the evil robot folds back up into a saucer and leaves with no attempt at pursuit or blocking its escape from our heroes.

After a scene with a lot of boring talking that doesn’t establish much except how our heroes are a bunch of doorknobs for not asking how a crewmember aboard a vanished spacecraft would just come home, the decision’s made to send the Mazinga crew after the aliens (the Andrew Meda, apparently). No idea how they know where they’re going, since the spy was rescued before she could talk, and nobody said anything about tracking the saucer.

Also the kids’ robots are going along with the three pilots, but not the kids from the ballgame. The kids steal the robots’ “clothes” rather than miss this awesome if extremely confusing adventure. They’re immediately found out by the pilots but not sent back, because we can’t have kid appeal without kid characters, can we?

Yes, we can. Back when I was a kid, everybody in the group always wanted to be Lion-O or Tygra or Panthro. One of the characters who got to kick butt and do cool things. Being made to play the annoying comic relief character was an insult.

The aliens see them coming and send out some rather Yamato-ish spaceships to intercept the robot, and as before the Mazinga team split off their fighter ships to fight back. After much repeated footage of the same ships shooting the same ships, Mazinga again kind of sucks when it’s trapped in some kind of electrical net by the aliens and left to be destroyed by some kind of space cloud (which even has a name. Devil. Don’t know why). Again, some lifted Bioman music plays here. This time it sounds like the music that played when Doctor Man would make his entrance. In any case, Mazinga’s energy is drained and it’s hurled to the surface of a barren planet.

With Mazinga 3 out of his metaphorical hair, Andrew (remember him?) makes plans to invade Earth. Also, bizarrely, his title is “president.” Like Siporta from Solar Adventure. If they seized power in a bloody coup (which is sort of, kind of, very vaguely implied by what we’re about to see), you’d think they’d want a more grandiose title than “president.”

Mazinga’s pilots are, of course, okay (“thank God,” sayeth David), but Mazinga’s “enegr” is still low.

Yet somehow it’s slowly recharging. Going to investigate what might be powering up their robot (I guess, because they don’t say), David and Angie go outside and find a cave. “I’m sure it’s man-made,” Angie says once they’re at the mouth.

What was your first clue, hawkeye?

Inside they find a bunch of giant glowing lollipops that turns out to be a computer that promises to help them. That is, if they take “Prince Orion of Andrew Meda” with them. I guess he’s the true ruler or something, but they don’t say. And I guess the computer gases Mazinga up again, because they don’t say. And I have no idea why Orion was being kept in rock candy, because they don’t say.

“President Andrew” decides the time’s right to make his move against Earth. One of his ships flies through an asteroid belt, and then this really weird thing happens where they watch calmly as an asteroid flies right at their windshield then disappears. What in the…?!

The Mazinga team hitch a ride on the back of the ship into Andrew’s base where the fighter ships split off from Mazinga and start blowing up random shit and saving the crews of the captured ships. Including Angie’s real mom, if you somehow care. Just in time for the guards to shoot her. Oh no, not the character even less developed than the heroes!

In the flattest delivery you ever heard in your life, Andrew calls one his minions an “idiot imbecile” and orders him to release the hounds. Or the hound, singular. The giant mechanized one. Mazinga fights the thing, but again our heroic robot is pretty lame because it’s at the dog’s mercy until the ships reconnect and (I guess, because it doesn’t say) this gives the robot enough power to electrocute the dog so it falls apart and explodes.

Andrew pleads to his nebulous boss for help, but is abandoned for his failure. What the heck was that thing? Was that the Devil cloud that drained Mazinga before? Who cares, the movie’s over. Like they’d bother to explain it now. And that it’d be even slightly comprehensible if they did.

Piggy planted a bomb on the “main energy tank,” and they fly away from Andrew’s base as it explodes and takes the whole planet with it. Somewhere there’s a planet where plants suddenly start to grow for some reason, where the Mazinga team drop off Orion and some presumably non-evil Andrew Meda aliens.

Then they fly home.

And nobody cared.

I might have spoken a little too soon when I knocked Solar Adventure’s political agenda. At the very least that forced them to attempt some kind of coherent setting and plot. Raiders of Galaxy, on the other hand, is the laziest, most blatant rip-off, cash-in movie I’ve ever seen. The plot’s more confusing, the voice acting’s worse, the action’s even more boring and most of the music’s stolen.

At least I never felt like I was being lectured.

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