When it comes to all things Gatchaman, I'm a novice. Ask me trivia about any of the plots, characters or creators, and I will provide you a bewildered expression every time. After watching the live-action Space Battleship Yamato, without any previous knowledge of the Anime, and thoroughly enjoying the feature, I had reason to believe going into this recreation without expectations would equal just as good an experience, and for the most part, I was accurate in my assumptions.
It's the future, and Galactor, a villainous group, with unequaled power, have ravaged much of the world, under the authority of their ruthless leader, Berg Katze. Although initially their origins are largely unexplored, as the film continues, much of how their regime came to be is explained. In order to halter this antagonistic threat, Gatchaman, a collective of five brilliant young agents, are assembled by Professors Nanbu (Goro Kishitani) and Kirkland (Ken Mitsuishi). Their childhoods stolen from them, these agents, who are the only humans on the planet capable of merging with the technology needed to stop Galactor, must put aside their emotions, differences, and spite for their creators, in order to become the heroes they need to be.
Ken (Tori Matsuzaka) leads the beautiful Jun (Ayame Gouriki), the adolescent Jinpei (Tatsuomi Hamada) and often comedic Ryu (Ryohei Suzuki) as the East Asian Gatchaman squad, their fifth member, George (Gou Ayano), who has, for the past few years been fighting in Europe, returning early on after being incognito. George and Ken suffer the most complicated relationship, both of them once being in love with the attractive Naomi (Eriko Hatsune), who unfortunately died at the hands of Galactor agent Iriya (Shido Nakamura) as a result of one of them being unable to control their stubbornness.
Unable to forgive each other, Ken has sworn to put duty before anything else, while George is willing to put duty aside to claim his revenge. At the same time, Jun (who is unfortunately portrayed as the love-sick young woman often encountered in Anime, though Ms. Gouriki is not to blame for this stereotype) cannot hide her feelings for George, yet occasionally, it's difficult to fathom whether it is really he she likes, or Ken, the writers also appearing to be unable to decipher this dilemma. The drama exhibited between the characters is often very intense, albeit sometimes over-exaggerated, the team frequently forcing themselves into each others faces, the threat of a physical altercation often never being far off, the actor's presence on screen working remarkably to build the tension.
The costumes take little time to become acquainted with, potentially because each of them are a combined assortment of cliché designs familiar to other programs, while at the same time matching the feature's genre, the musical score furthering the superhero ideals frequently employed. Katze, during the opening scenes looks especially peculiar in the Galactor suit, while the women on the other hand, and pardon me for saying so, fit very snugly into their uniforms.
The effects are incredibly alluring, and beneficially assist the action scenes in not only appearing extraordinary on screen, but feeling as equally impressive too. The vibrant assortment of color is incredibly gorgeous, in not just making the fights come alive, but assist the viewer in determining the stereotypical heroic and villainous nature of the characters.
Although Gatchaman may originally appear similar and predictable in accordance with other like programs, especially in regards to the climatic moments, there are some exceptionally great twists that keep the viewer enthralled until the very end. It's a shame the feature is so male dominated, and further insult is inflicted by the female characters often being reduced to discussing relationships. Though emotional ideas are employed, the film is hardly affected by them, while the ability to produce a film without resorting to buckets of violence and continuous profanity is admirable. Character driven, fun, occasionally humorous, and action packed, Gatchamn is sure to entertain audiences familiar and new to the franchise.
Review by Derek Childs from the Internet Movie Database.