Shin Ultraman Movie Review: Best IMDB Review

Shin Ultraman Movie Review: Some moviegoers had high hopes for the Japanese superhero-versus-monsters mashup “Shin Ultraman.” A “tokusatsu” icon with a long history and multiple successful franchises is Ultraman. And even if you don’t know the character’s name, you might be able to identify him just by looking at him, especially given his skin-tight silver jumpsuit, Lite-Brite bug eyes, and bullet head with a dorsal fin form. As the second picture in a trilogy of narratively unrelated Japanese sci-fi reboots, “Shin Ultraman” also evokes certain connections. It was released after the contemporary disaster film “Shin Godzilla” and before the anticipated “Shin Kamen Rider.”

To enjoy “Shin Ultraman,” none of this is necessary. Director Shinji Higuchi is aware that it is impossible to recreate the sense of preadolescent awe that Ultraman evokes in casual viewers. (He even told me that last year.) Instead, his Ultraman film, written by “Shin Godzilla” co-director/co-writer Hideaki Anno, is an approachable, episodic action-adventure that re-imagines humanity’s first meeting with its eponymous character, a heroic extraterrestrial.

Shin Ultraman Movie Review
Shin Ultraman Movie Review, Photo: JFF+

“Shin Ultraman” is primarily a family-friendly tale about how bizarre and confusing our world appears in comparison to the innocent simplicity of a mute hero with superhuman growth potential and laser-shooting hands. With its vibrant reptile and squid-like monsters, “Shin Ultraman” is another excellent movie about huge monsters.

The latest high-toned parody by Higuchi and Anno begins with a dizzying collage of nostalgic signifiers and pictures. The Japanese government now has to figure out how to stop the conga line of aliens from destroying anything nearby after they crash-landed in Japan. We see some of the colourful monsters from “Ultra Q,” the black-and-white 1966 monster-of-the-week serial that came before the first “Ultraman” TV show, and hear the orchestral theme music from that show, which is mixed with surf guitar and melodic saws. He isn’t mentioned in “Ultra Q” (here).

Shin Ultraman Movie Review

SSSP, the S-Class Species Suppression Protocol enforcement unit, a five-person team whose primary duty is to track our extraterrestrial guests and coordinate the Japanese government’s response, is also introduced to us. Ultraman (played by Anno and the original “Ultraman” actor Bin Furuya) quickly becomes an ally for the SSSP. He has a mysterious connection with the square-jawed expert Shinji Kaminaga (Takumi Saitoh) and his self-described “friend,” Hiroko Asami (Masami Nagasawa). Unfortunately, Ultraman rapidly piques the curiosity of his fellow E.T. Our politicians, the weakest links in humanity, are targets for seduction and eventual subjugation. The gap is taken up by Ultraman, who battles for us.

Shin Ultraman Movie Review
Shin Ultraman Movie Review, Photo: Rotten Tomatoes

“Shin Ultraman” stays quite close to the established traditions of Japanese monster movies. The breathless expository commentary is provided by scientists, military officials, and other stuffed shirts while they stare at computer screens. Even in the human-focused scenes, which are presented in a whirlwind of quick cuts yet aesthetically jarring visuals, there is a tremendous level of storytelling skill and narrative structuring on exhibit. Sometimes the camera is across the room from its human subjects, other times it is on the floor staring up at the SSSP crew bent over laptop computers. There is no normal in this situation that keeps getting worse; there is only constant mobility and always shifting viewpoints.

That unrelenting tempo and insane presentation represent how technology-dependent people could react to Ultraman’s arrival. Even with all the TVs, phones, and cameras at our disposal, we still have to peer over corners and gawk at fragmentary images of whatever is happening. People pretend as though they are in command here, but their inadequate understanding of reality is quickly brought to light.

The alien monsters created by Higuchi and Anno also speak and behave in a way that strikes the right balance between innocence and portentousness for adults. Zarab and Mefilas, two arrogant alien baddies, serve as a reminder to Shinji of the harm humanity poses to the galaxy. Just as the aliens saw humanity as resources, so do we consider Ultraman and his monster buddies as possible weapons.

Each monster battle reaffirms what followers of Ultraman already know: he’s always there to take a punch for you, a messianic stoic whose care for humanity is typically shown with a fleeting but significant over-the-shoulder glance. Ultraman is silent. He doesn’t even make mouth noises; all that comes out of his body is a white-noise whine as he soars through the air like an unmanned aeroplane. Ultraman acts like a young person’s ideal of a hero: he is swift and inhuman, entirely trustworthy, and easily understood.

During the kaiju scene, Higuchi’s camerawork is both reliable and lively. He’s definitely considered how to use motion-capture technology and computer graphics to depict Ultraman’s monsters, with their goggle-eyed faces, string-bean torsos, and pin-wheeling limbs. So, when Ultraman inevitably faces off against monsters, you can not only see but also take pleasure in watching him.

Higuchi and Anno skillfully maintain the sugary innocence of their title character while yet providing the genre cinema goods. The iconic character is allowed to maintain his natural shape and proportions in “Shin Ultraman” as opposed to being gigantized to fit what was always childish content. You and your father will adore the newest Ultraman film.

Limited release tonight, January 11, via Fathom Events

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