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The Film
Space Travelers

Its Origin
Japan

Running Time
126 mins

Genre(s)
Comedy
Action

Director(s)
Katsuyuki Motohiro

Stars
Takeshi Kaneshiro
Ken Watanabe
Eri Fukatsu
Masanobu Ando
Hiroyuki Ikeuchi

DVD Distributor
Universe

DVD Origin
Hong Kong

Region Code
3

DVD Format
NTSC

Audio Tracks
Japanese DD 5.1, DD 2.0

Subtitles
Chinese, English

Screen Format
Letterboxed

Special Info
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Space Travelers


Film Review

I bought this film long before The Last Samurai was released and I'd even ever heard of Ken Watanabe. The fun looking cover and it starring Takeshi Kaneshiro are what inspired me to make the purchase. However it sat on my shelf gathering dust for so long, partially due to its running time, and it was only after seeing Ken Watanabe in another film, Batman Begins, that I decided I was going to watch it regardless.

Space Travelers really is quite a bizarre film. Three bank robbers take six people as hostages when a robbery goes wrong and they are surrounded by police. Among the hostages is a terrorist with a hidden bomb, an electrician, a feuding married couple, a girl with pent up anger and ridiculously shy and unconfident man. In order to escape the robbers ask the hostages to pretend to be part of the gang. Surprisingly, the hostages enjoy doing so and one of the robbers, obsessed with the hit cartoon "Space Travelers", realises that the 9 of them perfectly fit the 9 characters in the cartoon. Soon they all start acting up to their cartoon-counterpart's identity and on that strange day, the bank becomes a tropical paradise...

If there ever was a film that wasn't so sure what sort of tone it wanted to go for, then Space Travelers is it. There is stupid humour in there, the protagonists are likening themselves with cartoon characters, nothing is really to be taken seriously at times, yet the ending is very sombre and not like the mood of the rest of the film. However, while that contrast may be there, it wouldn't matter so much if the content was good enough. But this is an area where Space Travelers falls short. Too much of the film is used in setting up the scenarios that will allow each of the characters to show the personality traits of their supposed cartoon counterpart. This does get a little tedious at times, as I found myself wanting something to actually happen concerning the story - the bank robbery went wrong, what are they going to do about it? The answer basically was "nothing - just sit around and let the hostages squabble until their personalities are clear."

This was a great shame and reflects poorly on the scriptwriters as the film had a good quality cast. So much more could have been done with the film to make it more interesting. Maybe have the robbers try something else to break into the vault, anything would have done other than having them sit around and waiting.

The film clocks in at over 2 hours, but could easily have been trimmed down, or simply condensed quite considerably, which would have greatly helped reduce the boredom that creeped in while I was watching. There are a few decent gag moments that will make you smirk but they don't save the film from being nothing more than completely mediocre in all ways.

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All review content copyrighted © (2003-2009) Kris Wojciechowski

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