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MESSAGE FROM SPACE - 3 Slimes
Rated PG
Copyright 1978 Toei Company Ltd.
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 21 October 2002

The Characters:  

  • I am trying to get the names (and other words) right, so give me a break during this review. Feel free to submit corrections, but please give me a reference. Otherwise, I am likely to believe you are guessing, just like I am.
  • Esmeralida - Princess of Jellucia. Despite traipsing across the universe to find several men and women who have gotten their nut, she has the audacity to wear white.
  • Urocco - Angry guardian of the princess. He wears lots of mascara, but nearly everyone in this movie wears lots of mascara.
  • Shiro - Hot-dog pilot that spends his spare time breaking various reckless flying laws and interstellar speed limits.
  • Aaron - Angry associate of Shiro, also a rebellious spaceship jock.
  • Meia - A poor little rich girl. She owns the Japanese version of the Millennium Falcon and has an unsettling Brooklyn accent.
  • Jack - Huge of front teeth and friend of the above three.
  • General Garuda - Vic Morrow! Resigns from the military to pursue a career as a professional drunk.
  • Beba 2 - He is either a natural kiss-ass or Garuda programmed him (Beba 2 is a robot) that way.
  • Prince Han - Sonny Chiba! True heir to the Gavanas' empire and a mighty warrior.
  • Emperor Rockseia the XII - Evil overlord of the Gavanas. He is stabbed through the frontal lobe, sucked out a window, and then falls several hundred stories. That is a pretty extreme death, even for an evil overlord.
  • Rockseia's Mother - Oh boy, the emperor is a mama's boy!

Buy It!

The Plot: 

I have one warning for those who watch this movie: it moves at breakneck speed and changes direction faster than a pursued squirrel. Trying to understand everything and keep up with the action in one viewing might result in nausea.

The planet Jellucia is a broken world. After invasion by the savage Gavanas' empire, the few surviving members of the once proud and peaceful planet place their fate in the hands of the gods. The wise old ruler releases eight sacred Liabi seeds (green glowing walnuts) into space, where they will seek out heroes to free the Jellucians. Never mind that he tosses them, resulting in a velocity that would take billions of years to reach Earth. There are far more puzzling things to come, like Princess Esmeralida escaping in her space clipper ship (it even has sails) to locate the persons selected by the nuts.

A sailing ship? In outer space? I think the reason that the Jellucians lost to the Gavanas is pretty darn obvious.

Shiro and Aaron are enjoying themselves at the expense of a harried space traffic enforcement officer. The rash pair lose the cop by skimming the planet's surface and "threading the needle" - guiding their ships down a narrow tunnel through a mountain. Suddenly, both craft begin malfunctioning and crash. Neither pilot is seriously injured and they find walnuts lodged in their engine panels.

Meanwhile, General Garuda is forced out of the Defense Force after he conducts a funeral for his dead robot. The main reason Central Command throws a fit is that the delusional officer launched the robot's body into space via an expensive rocket. The disgraced general replaces Beba with Beba 2, then begins drinking heavily while wearing an absurd fur coat. He soon finds a Liabi nut in his bourbon.

Jack bites into a tomato and discovers a nut inside (you know, nuts are popping up like mad here). To earn a monetary favor from Meia, he convinces Shiro and Aaron to collect "space fireflies." Earlier, we were told the flitting lights were caused by toxic waste dumps in the asteroid belt. Despite this, the group happily catches several glowing particles before realizing that the things turn to dust upon contact. The idiots are saved from themselves (cancer, radiation poisoning, who knows) when they find the battered clipper ship among the asteroids. Esmeralida and Urocco are rescued just in time; the bad guys' flagship arrives and starts blasting.

The humans return to somebody's pad and commence bickering about what to do. The argument wakes up Garuda, who is now a bum sleeping in an unused portion of the house. Okay, I officially think that Vic Morrow's character is deranged. He does not own a house? He was a general for crying out loud! Anyway, the princess tells Shiro and company all about the Liabi nuts and the plight of Jellucia. The irresponsible kids balk at the task, quickly handing their nuts back to the crushed Jellucians. Jack does suggest that he knows where Esmeralida can find some heroic types though.

The course of action suggested by Jack was a setup; he sold the Jellucians out for hard cash. Urocco is tasered, while an old crone rejoices that Esmeralida will become her hideous son's bride. The son looks like a reptilian aardvark, because he was born on Pluto (I do not have any idea why that matters). Wedding plans are put on hold when the Gavanas burst in. The crone and Esmeralida are taken to Rockseia's palace on Jellucia.

Are you still with me?

Aaron and his buddies toss their nuts out the window (damn things came back), but Meia joyfully finds herself to be the recipient of a Liabi seed. I have never seen a girl so happy about a walnut. The three male shirkers suffer from terrible nightmares. Upon waking, they gather near the window and someone tosses two nuts back in. Aaron doesn't get his nut back at this time. The brash lad is a little bitter about his nut shortage.

Back on Jellucia, the oppressors use a device to look into the old crone's memories. The scenes and situation will definitely remind some viewers of "Soylent Green." At the end of the memory stream the woman dies, but Rockseia listens to his mother like a good little emperor (what a rube). He issues the order to invade Earth. Giant engines ignite and Jellucia is pushed across the galaxy to our solar system. Would you like some "Gorath" with your "Star Wars" and "Soylent Green?"

The Space Defense Forces valiantly oppose the Gavanas' attack, but even the atomic missiles, that resemble B-2 bombers, cannot stop the evil empire. Mankind's space carriers are destroyed. To gain time to prepare a counterattack, the government asks Garuda to conduct a diplomatic mission and delay Rockseia's plans. The general was relieved for being suitably wacko and, since then, has done nothing besides drink; great idea.

Aaron still has not gotten his nut.

The Gavanas' flagship attacks the remote spot where Meia, Shiro, and Aaron have their craft staged. No equipment is damaged, but the battleship's lasers blast holes in the ground and then a tractor beam is used to kidnap Jack. I have no idea why Rockseia did this; maybe it was at mama's behest. Maybe mom is starting to display signs of Alzheimer's. The positive result of the mysterious attack is that Aaron finally gets his nut back.

The remaining three, Meia, Shiro, and Aaron, decide to attack the Gavanas' base. However, their nuts have other ideas. The Liabi seeds bounce around the spacecraft, causing it to crash on some world, possibly Mars. There they meet Prince Han, who also has a nut. He offers to help fight Rockseia.

At long last the main characters converge on Jellucia. The robot gets a nut (the hell?), but Urocco betrays the heroes and all are captured. Taken to the palace so that a hologram of the emperor can gloat over them, the tables are turned when Urocco has a change of heart. Urocco dies after being shot, but finds the last nut picked him as a saviour of the universe. This signals the final battle, which depends on Shiro and Aaron "threading the needle" in their ships. This time it is not a natural tunnel, but access corridors to the Gavanas' reactor core. Destroy the reactor and Jellucia will explode, taking the evil armada with it.

The film comes complete with a poor man's Millennium Falcon, sword fights (normal weapons, but a special effect goes off when a hit is scored), laser pistol battles, and a trench run. The list of "similarities" goes on and on, except, in this movie, the good guys hug each other and dance around in a big circle when they are happy. That never happens in one of Lucas' works... ...hey, those blasted Ewoks! And Shiro's fighter looks like a snowspeeder! And the battle on the planet's surface at the end of the movie! And flying into the base to destroy the reactor! Man, George Lucas ripped off the film that ripped off his film!

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Military robots rate full funeral honors.
  • Police spacecraft are equipped with flashing lights and sirens.
  • Respirators can be used to survive in a vacuum.
  • Being a master swordsman is impressive, but of dubious use when the enemy is armed with laser rifles.
  • Suspension of belief can be improved with cross-training.
  • Killing an old woman in a wheelchair is harder than it sounds.
  • A planet's destruction will always pause so that a father may bless his daughter.
  • Forty people is robust enough of a gene pool to populate a new world.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 14 mins - There is no reason for the space patrol ship to fly that low, except to facilitate crashing.
  • 25 mins - A fishing net... ...on a spaceship. Okay, sure.
  • 31 mins - Ouch, right in the face. That is going to leave a mark.
  • 38 mins - Where are we again? Europa? Looking for wolves on Europa?
  • 46 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A WINDOW!
  • 64 mins - "I have a nut in my drink."
  • 70 mins - Should they run into a bat-rat-spider monster, I will surely die of laughter.
  • 77 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THE MOON!
  • 97 mins - Lucas so ripped off this scene in "Return of the Jedi."

Quotes: 

  • Wise Man: "You will follow the Liabi seeds wherever they go. When you return with the eight brave heroes, the people of Jellucia will be saved."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note messagespace1.wav Beba 2: "Master, don't get smashed. Must find place to crash tonight. No more booze! No more booze!"
Garuda: "Hey Beba, you better shut your voice box."
Green Music Note messagespace2.wav Esmeralida: "Surrender? We Jellucians do not surrender! Get this into your head: Jellucians are not your cattle."
Green Music Note messagespace3.wav Rockseia asking his mom for advice.
Green Music Note messagespace4.wav Aaron: "We'll dive right into the spiral thing with our ships. Now, the Gavanas would never think anyone would be nuts enough to try and fly a spaceship right into their castle."
Garuda: "It's risky, but it might work. That tunnel is only ten meters from side to side. One mistake and you've had it!"
Shiro: "Hey, we've gone tunneling lots of times - it's a hobby."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipmessagespace1.mpg - 4.5m
Shiro, Aaron, and Meia are dogfighting their way toward the access corridor, while Esmeralida and the Jellucians attack the Gavanas guarding a space clipper.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 ... 4 5 [6]
Re: Message from Space
Reply #41. Posted on May 22, 2010, 04:29:03 PM by Moviefan
If you look on Ebay and Amazon you'll be able to buy Message from Space in its original Japanese language version as well as its English Dubbed version featuring Vic Morrow's voice all on the same disc. Its  from Eastern Star a Hong Kong DVD company, has subtitles in english, that although some of the names are translated wrong are pretty accurate and are not dubtitles. Plus its presented in its original aspect ratio and features trailers for the film(sorry no US trailer) and a Photo Gallery featuring Posters (Not the American one though), and stills from the movie.
Errors with names:
General Garuda= General Gulda
Jillucia= Jultia
Rockseia=Roxiah
Gavanas= Gabanas
I don't know if this actually how the names are, but its only a minor annoyance. The rest of disc is fantasic and the presentation is light years better than the bad beat up pan and scan print on the VHS tapes and the DVD-Rs, and is on par with the presenations of the movie on pay channels right now (Mabye a little bit better than those even).
Re: Message from Space
Reply #42. Posted on March 29, 2011, 04:23:36 PM by ralphyralph
This movie kicks the crap out of Star Wars any day of the week.
Re: Message from Space
Reply #43. Posted on May 13, 2011, 10:31:23 PM by Blacklight
Have you noticed that two of the main characters have prominent Brooklyn accents and Aaron even sounds exactly like John Travolta ?  Is it also a coincidence that Grease was released the same year and Travolta was hot at the time ?
Re: Message from Space
Reply #44. Posted on February 01, 2012, 01:55:09 PM by Pacman000
I like this movie. Sure it's over-the-top, and yes, the FX vary in quality, but that's all part of the fun.

You can watch it on youtube (where I first saw it).  I also saw it on This (MGM's TV network) one Saturday morning, but they haven't played it again.  Bluesad
Re: Message from Space
Reply #45. Posted on April 10, 2012, 08:45:18 PM by Pacman000
I finally got this on DVD!  Hopefully I'll get to watch it soon.

In Japan & France there was a TV series; in the US someone edited it into a movie: Swords of The Space Ark.  I'll have to find a copy of that, somehow.
Re: Message from Space
Reply #46. Posted on April 21, 2013, 12:17:12 PM by Rev. Powell
This is on Netflix streaming until 5/1/2013, so hurry up and catch it. It's also recently been released on DVD by Shout! Factory.

I believe I saw this when it first came out in 1978 when I was about 10. I remember the sailing ships in space, thinking that it was going to be another STAR WARS, and discovering that it was a cheap piece of Japanese crap instead. I remember walking out of the theater and playing the video game in the lobby until my mom came and picked me up.

Or, I might have my memories wrong and I could be remembering MESSAGE FROM OUTER SPACE (AKA SWORDS OF THE SPACE ARK) 1981, which was a movie made from a Japanese TV show that re-used some of the footage from this one to tell a similar story. From the clips I've seen on YouTube that was is even worse than this one! (In OUTER SPACE they're finding glowing eggs rather than nuts, which sort of fits my memory better). I need to see that one in its entirety to be sure.

As for this movie... it's pretty "meh." The costumes are colorfully ridiculous, at least. And this is the only movie I've ever seen where they actually use "space" as an adjective (someone talks about being born after the last "space war" and being afraid of being thrown in the "space clink.") I didn't find it too hard to follow but there were too many subplots; I think that it may have played better if they'd written the Vic Morrow character out of it entirely.

I'd give it a generous 2/5.
Re: Message from Space
Reply #47. Posted on April 29, 2013, 03:37:41 AM by Trevor
I remember walking out of the theater and playing the video game in the lobby until my mom came and picked me up.

You were fortunate to have videogames in your theater's lobby: if my hometown cinema manager caught us little ones loitering in the lobby, he would shout "Hey you: no hanging around! [Expletive deleted] off home!"   Buggedout

Ahh: memories.  Wink Wink
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