The Emerald Men of the Emerald Planet are concerned that nuclear testing on Earth is poisoning the galaxy. When the rogue nation of Magolia begins scheming to bring about a third World War, they send Starman to retrieve their doomsday device and put an end to their nonsense.
‘Supa Jaiantsu’ (aka ‘Supergiant’) was a series of nine children’s movies made in Japan in 1957 starring Ken Utsui. These were obviously inspired by the U.S. movie serials of the 1930s and 1940s, except these were shown in sets of two 40-50 minute episodes; in effect a film chopped in half. Medallion films and Walter Manley productions picked these up for stateside distribution, cutting the stories into 75 minute movies and releasing them with titles such as ‘Invaders From Space’ (1965), ‘Attack From Space’ (1965) and ‘The Evil Brain From Outer Space’ (1965).
This was the first of the films and it opens on the Emerald Planet where various robots, apparently cobbled together from household appliances, discuss what to do about the hoo-man problem, whilst a ringed planet sways gently in the background. (Obviously, that’s a visual anomaly caused by atmospheric conditions, rather than a cardboard planet on strings). Starman gets the gig, and heads Earthside, along with his Globe-Meter, which is obviously disguised as a wrist watch to help him blend in. What are his special powers? Well, he can fly, has super strength, can detect nuclear radiation and has a silly, white costume with a cape. So, not a bit like Superman, then.
The main mechanics of the plot revolve around a mysterious briefcase which everyone is after. Why? Apparently, it contains the Magolian’s nuclear device! During the course of events, it passes through the hands of various Magolian agents (most of them played by Western actors), and some pesky kids from the local orphanage. Of course, one of these brats gets himself kidnapped, and, once Starman’s rescued him, it’s the pretty nun who runs the children’s home who finds herself in the enemy’s clutches. So it’s off to the secret island base for the final showdown, via some wobbly model work and less than convincing flying sequences.
This was cut down from the two longest original films so there are noticeable narrative gaps, as more than 20 minutes of original footage is missing. But never fear, our old friend Voiceover Man is here, ﬁlling in the holes with his usual stentorian tones, convincing us just how damned important the whole thing is. Unfortunately, this is rather a dull experience, with enjoyment limited to the energetic fisticuffs, dodgy wire work and Starman leaping great heights as the film runs backwards.
Despite the overall lack of quality on display, it is necessary to bear in mind that this was designed as children’s entertainment, the Japanese equivalent of the Saturday Morning Matinee, and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Utsui certainly didn’t see the joke, however. He was a serious dramatic actor in Japan and despised the role, the silly costume in particular, and refused to discuss it in interviews until the day that he died.
Undemanding, knockabout antics that often drag but provide some level of entertainment.