Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Forgotten Movies (Thanksgiving Edition) - SAYONARA JUPITER

It's a pretty standard thing for websites, magazines and newspapers to put together listings of awful movies around this time of year. Turkey day brings about turkey movies - get it? The problem with these list is how often the lean towards recent fare (BATTLEFIELD EARTH) or infamous disasters (HOWARD THE DUCK) and they don't really seem to know just what a bad movie is. I mean, yeah, those films I mentioned are bad, but they're not offensively bad, just stupid and the fact that they have big names attached to them makes them easy fodder. Most bad movies are terrible due to laziness and incompetence, but those types of movies, the Cuba Gooding, Jr. comedies and the like, don't really make for interesting reading ("BOAT TRIP is a real turkey, but it's also not fun in any way whatsoever"), so they pick on the easy targets. I also feel that most of these pieces are written by people who wouldn't know what a true good, great or bad movie is if it came up and bit them on the ass; I recall reading one that listed Sergio Corbucci's COMPANEROS!, one of the best Euro westerns of all time, as one such film, proving that they knew nothing. Everyone has their taste and some are better than others (mine are the best), but it takes something truly special to be so incredibly awfully sucky to say, "This film is, without question, one of the worst films ever made".

Such a film is SAYONARA JUPITER.

This is a film I had never heard of until it was released on DVD earlier this year from Discotek Media and I didn't get to see it until just a few weeks ago, but holy christ almighty, what a cinematic shitburger! There have been some incredibly awful sci-fi/fantasy movies made over the years, but there's something about SAYONARA JUPITER that makes all those other films a little less awful. It's pretentious, but it's also stupidly pretentious; it's ambitious, but it's also incompetently ambitious; it seeks to provide fun and entertainment, but it provides the wrong kind of fun and entertainment; it's long and dull and boring, but also fascinating in that car wreck sort of way. Actually, having been a car wreck not long ago, I can tell you that SAYONARA JUPITER is a bit more fun, but only because you don't have to exchange insurance info and wait for a tow truck once it's done.

SAYONARA JUPITER is based on Sakyo Komatsu's novel and was produced by the mighty Toho Studios of Japan in an effort to fashion and home-grown special effects extravaganza along the lines of STAR WARS, but what they got something more along the lines of STAR TREK - THE MOTION PICTURE. It's one of those early special effects films that likes showing off its special effects more than just telling a story (the opening 10 minutes are just one giant FX shot after another) which makes it equal parts dull and stupid, because once you realize there isn't any story there, anyway, you just smack your head and laugh to yourself. The plot is basically about the need to destroy Jupiter (henceforth the title - duh!) in order to save the earth and the battle (such as it were) between scientists and religious radicals who don't want it destroyed. But in truth, the film is really about this:

At this point in the story, the film's hero has met up with his long-lost lover, who is now part of the radical group trying to sabotage the Jupiter project. The two reunite for one night of bliss where they don't just make love, they make space love, the kind that has them floating around space all bare-assed and talking about how much they love each other. This scene comes in around 25 minutes or so into the film and it's the point where you go, "OK, SAYONARA JUPITER, you may not ever be any good, but I will stay with you until I know just what the hell it is you're up to". You never do find out the answer to that question, but what you see throughout the rest of the film is not what you were ever expecting. Such as? Such as this:

Did I mention the song dedicated to the dying dolphin? Maybe I shouldn't.

Anyway, SAYONARA JUPITER is, in its way, a lovely little reminder of some of the lame sci-fi flicks of the late 70s and early 80s, like THE BLACK HOLE and STARCRASH and it may truly be the worst of the bunch. It has a lameness all its own and even at 130 minutes (!) it never wears out its welcome. It is truly the definition of a bad movie, and if that's what you crave this Thanksgiving, lemme tell, this one isn't just the turkey, it's the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the yams, the corn, and dessert, too. Eat it up, yum!

1 comment:

Q said...

Hi Mr. Kiernan, very much enjoyed your take on SAYONARA JUPITER. I think you might have left a comment on my blog... if so I apologize, it got erased. If you didn't, never mind.