Look out, someone gave Japanese special effects genius Takashi Yamazaki a big bag of money and the rights to one of the nation's most famous space operas.
Yamazaki first drew serious attention with The Returner, his scifi-action fusion starring Takeshi Kaneshiro, in which he showed that even when under significant budgetary restraints he could pull off some impressive effects and action work. The Returner showed promise but it wasn't until Yamazaki changed gears completely with the uber-nostalgic Always films that he would break through as one of Japan's top directors, period, both in terms of box office and critical success. And though it's hard to think of the Always pictures as effects extravaganzas, seeing as they are basically period set dramas, the invisibility of the effects work is testament to Yamazaki's skill, as pretty much every shot has been altered in some way to create the authentic period feel of post-war Tokyo.
After the second Always the question was what would Yamazaki do next. Another intimate character film or big spectacle? Well, his next big effort was as the effects man on steampunk influenced adventure picture K-20 - directed by his partner / girlfriend / wife / whatever their official status may be Shimako Sato - and he's staying big with his next proper directorial effort, a big budget, live action adaptation of hugely popular anime series Space Battleship Yamato. He's keeping it in the family, too, as Sato wrote the script.
For those unfamiliar think Battlestar, basically, with the scrappy survivors of Earth all packed on to a big ship making their way across the galaxy. But think old school adventure story Battlestar, not new dark and grim Battlestar. Due for release in December, Space Battleship Yamato stars SMAP's Takuya Kimura in the lead and a new trailer has just arrived to show off the scope of what Yamazaki is up to.
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