Battle in Outer Space, known overseas as Great War in Space, is a 1959 science fiction film directed by Ishiro Honda, who had now become practically typecast for such films. The film is semi-sequel to Toho's earlier Alien Invasion flick, The Mysterians. Set in the distant year of 1965, a Japanese space station is destroyed and mysterious events begin happening all over the world. At the Tokyo Space Center, scientists determine a common force was present during each instant. By drastically lowering an object's temperature, its gravity would also decrease. After an Iranian representative at the conference attempts to sabotage a new heat-ray weapon, a flying saucer appears to kill him, having failed his mission. It is discovered he was brainwashed by the race he called "Natal". Signals reveal the invaders have all ready set up camp on the moon, preparing to strike the Earth at any moment. Two SPIP rockets are readied and an international team of crew members is sortied for a "reconnaissance" mission to the moon. While alone on a night drive, crew member Iwomura becomes a mind controlled slave of Natal.
The two SPIPs take off on their journey and encounter the remains of the JSS-3 space station. Enemy signals are detected and guided torpedoes are hurled against the SPIPs, which counter with a heat-ray. During the encounter, Iwomura attempts to shut off the heat-ray's generator, but another member stops and detains him. The crew lands and disembark in their moon rovers to find the enemy base. Enemy saucers are spotted and the crew tracks them, leading them to a cave. Meanwhile, Iwomura breaks free and receives the order to destroy the SPIPs. In the cave, the diminutive Natals are themselves encountered. Beyond the cave, the Natals base of operation is discovered and the team attacks with their heat-ray guns, destroying it. Iwomura blows up the first SPIP and moves in to the second, but not before realizing the control has been severed and what he has done. The team battles with enemy saucers on their way back to the landing site. They discover the first SPIP is gone and Iwomura on a hill above them. Iwomura tells them to leave without him and holds off approaching saucers before succumbing to enemy fire. The SPIPs return to earth and a new line of space fighters are mass produced all over the world to defend against the upcoming attack. A large fleet of saucers is detected and the fighters prepare to take off, the greatest battle ever seen lying ahead of them.
Tropes used in the film include:
- Heroic Sacrifice: Iwomura is killed while fighting off the attacking Natal saucers so the Earth rocket ship can escape.
- Mind-Control Device: The Natalians implant devices in Dr. Ahmed and Iwomura's brains to control them.
- Monumental Damage: Golden Gate Bridge, meet Natal space torpedo!
- Prop Recycling: The Natal Saucers will look all too familiar to those who have seen The Mysterians.
- Ray Gun: Handled fairly realistically. There is no recoil and the rays hit their targets instantly.
- Lightning Gun: The weapons appear to shoot bolts of lightning.
- Shout-Out: The lunar landing sequence was a deliberate homage to Destination Moon.
- Space Battle: Probably one of the first large scale instances of this trope to be depicted on film.
- Tractor Beam: Doubles as a Freeze Ray.