Warning from Space (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review


Sci-fi junkies and Japanese film fans will probably like this film. I did not. I found it boring and dull. Arrow has given the film a really nice blu-ray that fans of the film will love.

Studio: Arrow Video
Release Date: January 29th, 1956 (theatrical) / October 13th, 2020 (blu-ray)
Runtime: 1 hour 26 minutes 40 seconds (Japanese version) / 1 hour 28 minutes 2 seconds (US version)
Region Code: A
Picture: 1080p (1.37:1 aspect ratio) (both versions)
Sound: Japanese LPCM 1.0 (Japanese version) / English LPCM 1.0 (US version)
Subtitles: English (Japanese version), English SDH (US version)
Slipcover: No
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Isao Yamagata, Kanji Kawahara, Bin Yagisawa, Shôzô Nanbu, and Bontarô Miake
Written by Hideo Oguni
Directed by Kôji Shima
Rating: Not Rated (sci-fi violence)

THE FILM


A group of starfish-like aliens from the planet Pyra, which is on the same orbital plane as Earth but on the opposite side of the Sun come to Earth to warn mankind about a runaway planetoid known as Planet R that is on a collision course with Earth. It is feared that when Earth is destroyed that their planet will be destroyed as well. However, their form causes people to panic, so they chose a female member of their race to take human form to spread their message. They then decide to contact a prominent scientist who has invented a new source of energy that can also be made into the most destructive bomb the world has known to destroy the planetoid. Unfortunately, the scientist is kidnapped by enemy agents who want to use the bomb for their own purposes. Now it becomes a race against time to find the scientist so he can complete his formula and save mankind.

I am a huge Japanese sci-fi fan. I grew up on Godzilla and Gamera and all the different kaiju films out there. I was always on the lookout for films from Toho and the like. While MESSAGE FROM SPACE never hit my radar when I was a kid, I doubt I would have liked it very much. The film is very dry, fairly dull, and kinda boring.

This was the first Japanese sci-fi film shot in color and while there are some really nice scenes of color, the film could have been shot in black and white and nothing would have changed. The film was shot in the Academy ratio (1.37:1), but there are a few scenes, mostly with the star-shaped aliens, that look like they may have been shot in widescreen. The camera whips between the two sets of aliens in a very “pan and scan” kind of way. The picture seems to be a little bit rounded at the edges in these scenes which cements my suspicions even more. 

It doesn’t really matter one way or another how the film was shot, or that it was one of the first Japanese films shot in color, because the film is just not very memorable. The aliens look terrible even by Japanese sci-fi standards and the film just plods along, moving from scene to scene without much care as to what happens next outside of what needs to happen because of the plot. By the end of the film I just didn’t care about much that happened and could have cared less about any of the characters. WARNING FROM SPACE is just a dull, boring film that should be avoided even if you are a sci-fi fan.

THE PICTURE AND THE SOUND


WARNING FROM SPACE looks pretty decent on blu-ray, but there is a reason for that. Outside of Kurosawa films, and other dramas, Japanese films were not preserved very well. MESSAGE FROM SPACE is just an unknown film that preserving it was obviously not a priority. For the most part things are fine. Grain is intact and the colors are good. There is a flicker that appears often that is a result of that preservation problem. Some scenes look flat, but the transfer is fine for how the film materials were kept.

The Japanese LPCM track is fine. It gets the job done without sounding bad.

THE FEATURES


Select Scene Commentary by Stuart Galbraith IV (1h 4m, HD) Not much of a “select scene” commentary. More of an hour-long commentary track. Galbraith has scripted the entire track as he usually does with his tracks and some may find this boring. I have always found his tracks to be very informative if a bit dry. This track is worth a listen.

Warning from Space US Version (1h 28m 2s, HD, 1.37:1) This is the English dubbed version of the film, produced in New York by Cipes and Palmer and Titra Sound Studios, and later distributed by American International Television

Theatrical Trailers:

-Teaser Trailer (2m 28s, HD, 1.37:1) subtitled in English
-Theatrical Trailer (3m 5s, HD, 1.37:1) subtitles in English

Image Gallery (48 images)

THE WRAP-UP


WARNING FROM SPACE is not a very good film. It isn’t smart enough to be compelling, but it isn’t goofy enough to be entertaining. I just didn’t care about anything that happened in the film and wished that it would have ended sooner. Arrow has done their best with the materials that they were given, but you can’t polish a turd. I can’t recommend this release to anyone outside of those who have looking for this film because it has been hard to find a quality release.

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