Retro Review – The Mysterians – Henshin Justice Unlimited

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Yes generally Toho if famous for being the guys who brought us Godzilla. But they have done other things as well. Such as my subject for this reviews, The Mysterians. A 1957 sci-fi movie directed by the legendary Ishiro Honda, with music Akira Ifukube and special effects headed by the icon himself Eiji Tsuburaya. And there is a giant monster in her so I’m not straying to far out of my usual territory.

So what are you waiting for, hit the jump.

During the opening credits we see a space station and some space ships heading toward it. Then we see a festival where we meet a couple of our main characters. Shiraishi, an astrophysicist, his, we soon learn, ex-fiance Hiroko, his sister Etsuko and his friend Atsumi, who is a scientist as well. While Atsumi is trying to get Shiraishi to spill why he stopped the engagement and had been acting so strange suddenly they spot a fire in the woods. Some, as in three, villagers head up to see if they can do anything to stop it, although Shiraishi tried to stop them. When they get there they discover the trees are burning from the roots, as in underground, up but before they can escape they are trapped by the fire.

Atsumi visit Shiraishi boss, Adachi. There they talk about Shiraishi’s strange report about an asteroid he dubbed the Mysteriod. He apparently feel it used to be a planet between Mars and Jupiter, although his boss apparently wasn’t brave enough to sign off on the theory as well. Then they hear a report of the village Shiraishi was staying at was suddenly buried in a landslide, according to the subtitles on the DVD I watched. Although when we see the footage of the event it looks a lot more like the ground caving in. Now this is where things get weird because apparently the day of the incident, the ground was radioactive hot. Yet when Atsumi visits the sight the next day, despite the fact nobody is wearing any sort of protective gear what so ever, he is surprised to learn that it isn’t now. On the way to the sight of the burnt forest they see another defense force agent and I’m assuming some volunteers removing dead fish flowing down a river. Not to side track things but I can’t help to wonder who the DF guy in charged pissed off to get this duty.

As they continue on they stop the jeep again because they all smelled something. Quickly they discover the tires are burnt and the road is radioactive. Okay seriously, shouldn’t somebody be jumping on top of the jeep at this point? Then a metal monster comes out of the mountainside. While never named in film it called Mogera. Naturally one of the DF guys tries to shot it with his gun. And naturally he and the jeep gets blown up by the robot heat ray. After reporting on what they seen the DF evacuate the town before the robot hits. The DF hits it with everything it has but the robot isn’t stopped until they blow up a bridge it was walking on. Before that though Atsumi and Etsuko see three flying objects in the sky. During a press conference Atsumi say an analysis of the metal that was ripped away says it was chemically created, but it couldn’t be made on earth at this time. But when a reporter asked if it came from outer space, he answers he doesn’t know for sure. And at this point point most people are probably thinking if it isn’t from Earth where else could it be from.

Adachi sees some activity on the far side of the moon, just like Shiraishi predicted. After Atsumi tells him he saw some the day of the robot (Geez, that sounds like a z movie doesn’t it?) attack Agachi decides to tell the world. As he takes them on a tour of the various attack sites a dome rises up from the ground. A voice said they mean no harm and tells the group that Adachi, Atsumi and name three other scientist (who conveniently happen to be standing right there) are invited into the dome. After having them put on some capes, yes capes because it’s cold inside, they are eventually meet the Mysterians themselves and their leader. There he makes out like the DF attacked them first so they acted in self defense and they know the horror of the H-bomb since a war within their own race destroyed their planet, and they have no problem using it in case the Earth uses it against them. But the leader says they are willing to live peacefully all they want is a couple of things. A piece of land no bigger than a two mile radius, which they already took, and because of their radiated bodies 80 percent of their children are born with deformities and defect(and therefore destroyed, nice guys) the would like the right to marry earth women. Starting with a certain five, three of which they already took. The other two just happen to be Etsuko and Hiroko. Naturally Atsumi has some objections too this.

The defense Force plans an attack and Atsumi goes to the two girls to tell them that they’re on the Mysterians booty call list.  Shiraishi appears on the TV and he went native! Wait, he joined the aliens… he went E.T.? Anyway he talks to them through the television to prove the Mysterians technical superiority. And you gotta admit doing a two way communication through a 1957 TV is pretty damn impressive. He also tries to convince Atsumi to get the DF to stop their attack. He doesn’t listen and the army attacks and gets their collected cans handed to them. Now Japan calls on the world to help. They try to develop a new set of weapons, like an electron gun, as well as two huge rocket like jet fighters. Meanwhile the Mysterian leader talks about the final design of their base to Shiraishi and reveal that they will have control of a good chunk of the eastern Japanese coast, surprising Shiraishi. The world army attack thinking they got the range of the heat ray they attack with both ships. And things are going well, until they realize they can’t pierce the dome and they Mysterians blow up one of the rocket ships. And in a nice little sound cue this epic alien butt kicking music play up until the ship blows up and then nothing, it was played perfectly.

Watching the failure from the ground Atsumi and one of the DF apparently find a secret way into the Mysterians’ base and tell nobody. The Mysterian increase their demand to a piece of land with a 75 mile radius. Then the Mysterians decide to take Hiroko and Estuko in the night, and we learn later several more ladies. Shiraishi tries one more time to convince the Earth forces to stop with their attacks, since he believe neither Human nor Mysterians should rule the earth, but science. They ignore him, and go over plans for a new metabolic dish weapon that can shoot the Mysterian’s heat back at them as well as fire it’s own. And pretty much chuck the idea for the electron gun out the window on screen, way to make a potential plot point useless. Before the attack Atsumi tells Adachi about the hidden way in, because it’s not like they could use that as a way to sneak a secret force inside to do some damage since they can’t damage the dome!!!!!

Anyway Atsumi uses the passage to get into the base right before the attack starts. The world forces launch the rocket ship and a couple of funky looking rockets to get the new weapons into position. while that that attack is going on Atsumi takes down a guard and demand to know where the women are. At roughly the same time a Mysterian makes the girl leave the room they were held captive in. During the outside assault things are kinda going good, then things in the dome start blowing up. Apparently since the guard wouldn’t tell Atsumi where the women folk are he decide to use the gun he captured and blow stuff up. He is quickly over taken and a Mysterian takes him away at gunpoint.  There is a second rocket ship that apparently had some trouble taking off, I should point out dishes have a time limit of 75 minutes, and they tell the other ship to launch with 20 to go. Anyway the guy guarding Atsumi to not only the cavern he came in from but where he stashed the girls. revealing himself to be Shiraishi he tells them to leave and hands Atsumi his finished report on the Mysertians. Really all of this just to finish a report? I’m not saying he didn’t really believe in the Mysterian’s cause initially, maybe even sympathized with them. But all of this is going on and you’re finishing a report?!

Getting back on track, another robot dig underground coming up from under one of the dishes. It collapses to the ground, but crushes the robot in the process… so hurray? Atsumi gets the girls out, Shiraishi causes some more damage and the Mysterian leader seeing the death and destruction around them from the assault orders a retreat back to the station. After they slowly lumber off Shiaishi comes in takes aim and decides not to fire. Before long the combined attack of the dishes and the second ship arriving fresh, and maybe actually using that electron gun so maybe that point wasn’t thrown away, the dome explodes and the Myserians try to escape. A couple are shot down but the escape into space. A satellite is launched to keep an eye on them and the Mysterians are expelled to space forever.

I’m going to do something a little different here and start on the Mysterians before I get to the kaiju element. They’re obviously humanoid disguising their look with a, to me, superhero-esque uniform, with their feature hidden by a helmet. although at the end a couple of the helmets were cracked open and you see some deformed faces, from the radiation left over in their bodies I’m sure. And the uniforms are mainly white with some different accent color for the helmet, cape as this very wide looking belt which I assume show off some kind of hierarchy. There’s one lone guy in a redish orange who’s obviously in charge. Then there’s some yellow accent guys and ones in blue who I’m assuming are you basic guards and cannon fodder for the hero to beat up. Just for the record Shiraishi is in one of the yellow uniforms.

Now on to Mogera, he’s a clunky, bulky metal robot. Mainly silver with some gold parts. He can dig underground with his nub arms, he has no hands. the eyes light up right before he fires his heat beam. And a rotating antenna on top of his head since he’s radio controlled. Mogera also has a giant saw looking fin on his back that doesn’t do anything that I saw, but it does look like his nose is a drill. The robot isn’t all that big, as a comparison that jeep I mention he blew up earlier in the movie while in the live shots the human actors are slightly taller than the jeep, in the model shot it’s roughly halfway up Mogera’s shin. So not all that big. This version of Mogera shows up one other time in the 80s NES Godzilla game. He’s later revamped in the Heisei series of Godzilla movie.

The effects are alright, because of Mogera’s height some of the miniatures are nicely detailed. The spaceships are nothing seen before in any other movie so that’s a nice touch. the attack rocket ships are giant rockets that can take off vertically, however there’s no vertical jets for this and the ship hovers in the air a bit before the rear rockets kick in to send the ship forward. There’s a nice combination of miniature work and stock footage for the battle scenes, although I swear they uses this scene of jets breaking out of formation at least five times during one battle. And there is a bit of a hiccup where you see a tank coming toward the screen and right after an explosion you can see the blue screen the tank and crew where in front of, especially behind the guy driving the tank and a bit where you can see the outlines around some guys running across some miniatures. Outside of that the effects are pretty good, especially the superimposed fire over various objects in the live scenes. And the matte work for some scenes is really excellent. Although I must point out the space station showed in the movie I swear I’ve seen in others. In fact I’m pretty sure the reused the footage to show the telecommunication satellite in King Kong vs Godzilla. But you got to save money somehow.

The human cast are alright but some of the things in the script made me scratch my head. Such as Atsumi’s keeping things he seen to himself. I can understand keeping seeing the UFOs to himself and he explained it away saying that as a scientist he wants to be sure first before saying anything. But why would you keep a potential way into the Mysterians base to yourself, especially since the dome and heat ray are beating the Earth forces like Godzilla’s red headed stepchild? And did Shiraishi really just join the Myterians just to finish his report?And was he really never bothered by all the death and destruction but had second thought once the leader said they were grabbing a bigger piece of land than they originally said they would? There were a few things in here that didn’t make any sense to me.

Overall I’d say it was an average movie best. It had some good effects and maybe with a little tweaking the story could have been a little better. So I’m giving this one a 3 out of 5.

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