When I found out about G-Saviour, the live action Gundam movie., I kind of thought it’d be like a prototype Pacific Rim. Well, I was kinda of right in a sense, but….
Let me give you some context. I’ve watched some bits of the long-running Gundam anime over the years. For those of you who don’t know. It’s a long-running mecha (giant robots like Voltron or the Power Rangers Megazord) anime which usually focuses on the theme of war and what an awful thing it can be.
I enjoyed some of it but found some of the entries in the franchise I’ve come across to be a little bleak for my taste. I do love the visuals and the space operas, whether in a space ship or a mecha. Naturally when I found out about G-Saviour, a live action joint production between an English-speaking production company and the Japanese production company Sunrise to celebrate a franchise anniversary, I was very curious.
From what I can tell, the project was done with American and Canadian actors and was intended for Japanese release after a bit of dubbing. The production was a joint effort between two international companies.
The first thing we have to talk about is the special effects. I can easily slate them for looking like they came from a high-end PS1 game, but you have to remember it was nearly 15 years ago that this project came about, intended for TVs rather than cinema.
The CGI is very bad however, if you prop it up against TV shows like Star Trek or Stargate who were doing space-based special effects. They are pretty rough, then again looking at the CGI in the recent Attack on Titan live action movie, maybe the practical effects is where Japanese movies strengths lie.
Now we’re onto the story. From the little knowledge I have of the franchise, I think it’s adapting one of the early series plots? We follow ace pilot Mark whose got a bad case of Tom Cruise syndrome. He’s a top dog pilot whose lost his confidence and with the aid of a pretty lady, gets it back.
This pretty lady being Cynthia, a doctor whose on the run from Earth’s corrupt Congressional military arm, because she’s found something which can solve the food crisis. The corrupt Congressional Military want it because that means that everyone will have stop starving all the time, and that’ll stop them controlling stuff.
They want to destroy the magic crop grower, because…well they need to be clearly seen as bad guys, that’s why. How do I know they’re corrupt? Well, the soldiers like killing stuff and the lead two army dudes are bad. How bad? Well, one is a nutcase and the other in one scene is seen with a lady of the night? I don’t know, it’s not well explained at all. Also, for eagle-eyed viewers. You may notice how the soldier uniforms have been recycled from Starship Troopers and are very similar to those of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy.
Mark is joined by a bunch of characters who have names that you’d come across in an anime written be people who don’t know anyone from a different country. I.E if your character is English, he’s called Jack. If he’s Spanish, Rico and he’s American, Billy Bob. You get the drift, names you’d attach to stereotypes from different countries.
You’re probably wondering why I haven’t talked about the mechas that much. Well, that’s because the mechas aren’t featured that much at all. I know in the anime they aren’t the centre of attention, but still they appear every so often.
Overall you have two big mecha set pieces. One is underwater, where it’s so hard to see what’s going on because all the scenes are so badly lit. The entire scene where Mark has to rescue a trapped mecha pilot has the technical setup like an episode of Star Trek before halfway decent CGI became easy to do.
The second one is a big space battle, which is pretty well choreographed and it’s a just a shame it came so late in the movie.
I don’t usually talk about this, but let’s talk about the acting. I’m not usually a great judge of acting, but it’s clear most of the actors involved in this are doing something similar to the cast of the live-action Scooby Doo or the Joel Schumacher Batman movies, and acting like they’re in a cartoon.
So depending if you liked those two movies I described, you might enjoy their performances or not. Note, that there are no sweet geek cameos in this. No Star Trek veterans looking for a paycheck or anything like that.
Conclusion? By the response, I’ve seen on the internet and various sources, no one liked this movie that much. It seems to join the steaming pile of failed Japanese franchise adaptations with Godzilla and Kite (bet you forgot about Kite, didn’t you?)
The acting isn’t great in my opinion. The mechas don’t play a huge role like they should. I wish they had shot the whole movie in more diverse locations, and a bit more action was happening. The film is very slow, and clearly at one point just throwing props around random unsuitable rooms in a modern looking building.
These geek-friendly adaptations feel more at home on the Syfy channel and this production has that vibe, it doesn’t have the ambition or the remarkable low-budget wonder team behind it.
If you’re a fan of space operas, and like me, you’ve worn out your box sets of Battlestar, Star Trek and Stargate, you won’t be getting your fix with G-Saviour. You’re better of checking out on the anime or watching Pacific Rim if you fancy mechas or some space opera action.
Also, the word Gundam is never uttered. Maybe a lucky thing for the franchise to easily distance itself from it.