The title promises trashy excitement and throwback sci-fi thrills. But this digitally animated Japanese adventure is as po-faced as they come, setting up a future world of labyrinthine complexity, full of galactic committees, dying races and ancient vendettas, before proceeding to doggedly blow the hell out of it for 107 minutes.
Harlock himself is not exactly a barrel of laughs: a scarred, taciturn space captain with boyband hair and an alien parrot on his shoulder. When similarly boyband-haired government agent Logan inveigles his way into Harlock’s crew, only to rebel against his former Imperial masters, the stage is set for the ultimate conflict between these hip young gunslingers and a council of crotchety old guys with bad hair and robes.
There’s more to it than that, of course, but the plot becomes increasingly hard to follow, incorporating some kind of giant time-travel machine, a proton weapon hidden in the heart of Jupiter, and a God-like dark matter force that we never really get to grips with. Best advice is just to settle back and admire the view: though the CG-created human figures all look irksomely leathery, the backdrops and spaceships are impressive – especially Harlock’s pirate vessel, which resembles a cross between a Spanish clipper and a goth’s dildo.
But pretty visuals can only go so far, and the constant plot-shifts and complete absence of characterisation quickly grow tiresome. One for hardened space-opera fanatics