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‘Shin Ultraman’ (review)

Shin Ultraman is a certified blast.

I loved every second of it. I watched it twice in a row.

I needed to take it all in and then digest it. I then watched it a second time to really enjoy the visuals and the editing.

Following a series of kaiju attacks, the Japanese Government establishes the S-Class Species Suppression Protocol (SSSP), a department designated to handle any further giant monster attacks.

When a Kaiju dubbed Gabora appears and attacks another phenomenon happens.

A giant silver extraterrestrial crash lands to defeat it. Quickly named Ultraman by a member of the SSSP it is not known if this new being is a friend or a foe.

What is also unknown is that Ultraman harbors a grave secret.

One that could affect the lives of everyone.

When another alien arrives, named Zarab, wanting to create a treaty with Japan, it is a member of the SSSP who discovers his real intentions. Zarab intends to destroy the planet by triggering a worldwide conflict. When Ultraman disappears Zarab, intent to discredit Ultraman disguises itself as him and attacks Japan. Can Ultraman be found? Will he stop Zarab in time? And who is this Mefilas? What are his intentions? Is he here to help or bring even more chaos and destruction to the Earth?

This is classic Japanese tokusatsu entertainment but with a modern sensibility.

Long time collaborators Hideki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion) and Shinji Higuchi (Attack on Titan), the masterminds behind 2016’s brilliant Shin Godzilla are back to give their amazing and sometimes bizarre take on the Ultraman series. This is their second reboot of a famous tokusatsu series, their third will be the upcoming Shin Kamen Rider, which I am also thrilled to see when it releases.

Anno and Higuchi have such a love and respect for the original films and classic TV shows that they lovingly approach the subject matter. They really pay homage to the source material all the while adding their very unique visual style to it. And it works with aplomb.

Like Shin Godzilla, Anno is once again writing. However he has given full directing reigns over to Shinji Higuchi, a visual maverick much the same as Anno. You will see it in his crazy camera placement and his unconventional frame compositions. This movie is shot in one of the most visually dynamic styles I have seen in a very long time.

Shot back in 2019 and then delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the duo spent almost two and a half years editing and creating their vision. What they wound up with is a tight, frenetically paced action film that creates as much tension and excitement with the bureaucratic dialog as it does the action and fighting sequences.

Shin Ultraman is a solid and ambitious reboot, worthy of the name and a compelling continuation of the 57 year long series. I hope that they are able to continue their proposed trilogy of the series.

 
*  *  *  *  *
Produced by Hideaki Anno, Kazutoshi Wadakura,

Takehiko Aoki, Tomoya Nishino, Masaki Kawashima
Written by Hideaki Anno
Based on Ultraman by Eiji Tsuburaya
Directed by Shinji Higuchi
Starring Takumi Saitoh, Masami Nagasawa, Daiki Arioka,
Akari Hayami, Tetsushi Tanaka, Hidetoshi Nishijima

 

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