Plot: As overpopulation and environmental breakdown threaten the continued existence of mankind, the world’s scientists have looked to space for potential solutions. This has included the possibility of the colonization of other planets, with some early work done on that front for Mars. In an effort to clear a path for humans to inhabit the red planet, cockroaches were transported to the distant world, but now hundreds of years later, a crew is headed there to take the next step. The bugs will be wiped out and the crew will lay more groundwork for mankind’s colonies on Mars, but of course, things don’t go as smoothly as expected. As it turns out, the roaches have evolved and are now large, humanoid creatures with violent tempers. The crew takes immediate casualties dealing with these massive bug monsters, but has science prepared some solutions for them to fight back and claim Mars?
Entertainment Value: An insane sci/fi manga about space rangers battling mutant cockroaches brought to life by cinematic maniac Takashi Miike sounds like a fever dream come true and Terra Formars is indeed one hell of a wild ride. The narrative jumps right into the chaos and doesn’t spend much time on depth or development, which might put some viewers off. I think the movie invests a little time in the characters, not enough for the emotional beats to resonate, but enough for the narrative to make sense and keep us invested. The attempts at emotion are more general, as we might not know a lot about these people, but we want them to survive and most are at least likable, so there’s that. The real focus is on the action of course, an area where Terra Formars throws a wealth of sci/fi tricks and balls out violence onto the screen, which is all an absolute riot to watch. This is wild, over the top martial arts action blended into a sci/fi atmosphere and accented with some monster movie elements, a potent and super fun cinematic cocktail. This is like an even crazier Earth Defense Force style experience, like a comic book, video game, and off the rails sci/fi movie had a mutant child that just lost its mind. No, Terra Formars won’t dazzle with subtleties, but if you just want a rocket ride of wild sci/fi action, this movie delivers.
No nakedness. I know, some of us wanted to see the human/insect hybrids engage in some wild sexual congress, but that doesn’t happen here. The movie packs in a lot of violence and that includes some bursts of blood and insect goop, but this is sci/fi style action, rather than slasher movie gore. The battles are kinetic and very frantic, often the violence is uncorked in super rapid strikes that yield sprays of various liquids, but the camera doesn’t linger on the aftermath. The action violence is frequent and doesn’t shy away from the blood and goop however, so if limbs lopped off, heads sliced off, or other bodily wounds bother you, keep that in mind. The transformation scenes are fun as well, giving us some wild human/insect hybrid creatures and of course, the cockroach warriors are imposing enemies for our heroes. The dialogue has inspirational speeches, villainous tirades, and some in the heat of battle one liners, though the exchanges aren’t as off the wall as the rest of the movie’s traits. As you can probably tell by now, the film packs a good deal of craziness and even beyond the insect wackiness, there are some strange, esoteric elements at work. Not as just off the charts insane like some of Miike’s work, but a wild ride, to be sure.
Overall Insanity: 5/10
The Disc: This movie has a lot of style and some stunning visuals, so Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release needed to be top notch and it is, giving us a razor sharp, gorgeous looking visual presentation. The movie’s wild visuals shine here, with superb fine detail that lets even the CGI look remarkable and given the attention to detail in the production design elements, that is phenomenal news. The colors are on point, whether that means deep, earthy browns or vivid, mind melting bursts of vibrance, while contrast is consistent throughout as well. All of the chaos unfolds in crisp, clear presence, thanks to Arrow’s excellent treatment here. The extras kick off with a feature length behind the scenes piece, which feels a little promotional most of the time, but still has a lot of informative interviews and behind the scenes elements. Not as in depth as the nearly 90 minute duration might suggest, but fans of the movie or Takashi Miike’s work should have some fun with the piece. You can also check out about 50 minutes of various cast interviews, watch some outtakes, browse some still photos, or roll out three of the film’s teaser and theatrical trailers.