I love Arthur C. Clarke’s Odyssey quadrilogy, and the 2001 film was truly remarkable, so when I saw that this Japanese film was intentionally made to somewhat mimic the 2010 sequel, I couldn’t resist. Perhaps that was a mistake….
It’s hard to say whether this was a “bad” film or not. It is what it is: a cheesy Sci Fi B-movie. There is a play (i.e. twist) on almost every convention in Clarke’s 2010 book sequel (not to mention on the poor film version of 2010, which I’ve seen but didn’t bother writing about on this blog….).
In Sayonara Jupiter, there was a very unexpected sex scene in which Eiji and Maria float naked through space (on tables covered with black sheets that you can see, of course), which turned out to be a very long and floaty sequence. Matter of fact, there were quite a few scenes that were too long and should have been eliminated or reduced. Barbarella came to mind during this long, drawn out sequence of floating, naked bodies (for the naked bodies part, not the long, drawn out part).
The narrative action throughout didn’t always answer logical questions about how we got from A to B, etc. And, it wasn’t necessarily a low-budget film because of the elaborate sets, models, explosions, etc. So one has to wonder about a lot of things, like why did they waste time on certain scenes and not tie up narrative loopholes that they otherwise could have covered, etc. But, it’s a B-movie.
And the addition of the hippy singer (Peter), his dolphin named Jupiter, and his cult group of rainbow-painted & overly tanned followers added a bizarre twist (on the space theme), especially when there were moments of folkish kumbaya pastoral montage, very much like music videos you would expect from John Denver, only sung in Japanese.
I suppose what this film was trying to convey was that humans need to do whatever it takes to survive, and if that means blowing up Jupiter to either provide energy to the outer colonies, or to throw a black hole off course, then we will do what we have to do. And, of course, Peter’s resistance movement created a nice counterpart to the domination of space theme. Peter’s Jupiter Church wanted to preserve the natural state of Jupiter (the planet, not the dolphin), and so acted as a Greenpeace-in-Space, trying to sabotage Eiji’s plans to blow up Jupiter and turn it into a sun (this is one of the twists to the 2010plot, where it was the Monoliths who managed to turn Jupiter into another sun). But, it turns out, the blowing up of Jupiter plan had an emergency use: to save the entire solar system from the growing black hole. So all’s well that ends well.
Despite the constant, silly, B-movie moments and a mixture of Japanese, English, French, and German language, this film was probably worth the time just to say I watched it. Though I doubt there’s much to be extracted in the ‘profound’ department on this one.