Shin Ultraman

Shin Ultraman

2023, NR, 112 min. Directed by Shinji Higuchi. Starring Takumi Saitō, Masami Nagasawa, Akari Hayami, Tetsushi Tanaka, Hidetoshi Nishijima.

REVIEWED By Sarah Jane, Fri., Jan. 6, 2023

Oooh wee, do I love me some kaiju! I adore all rubber-suit monsters, from the immortal duo of Godzilla and Gamera to lesser-known creatures like Daimajin and even the oft-forgot Gappa, the Triphibian Monster. Hell, go, Yongary, go! Now comes Shin Ultraman, a movie that needs to be seen as big and as loud as possible.

A follow-up to Shin Godzilla, and the second in a conceptual trilogy of tokusatsu reimaginings by Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno (with Shin Kamen Rider coming up in March), Shin Ultraman reboots the 1960s series about the giant robot protector of the earth. In the new film, a team of specialists (including Godzilla: Final Wars' Nagasawa, Shin Godzilla star Saitō, and Nishijima from, of all things, Drive My Car) tries to take down a torrent of threats, from giant monsters appearing all over the country to extraterrestrials who want to destroy humankind. Their biggest ally, quite literally, is the gigantic, silver-suited, and mysterious Ultraman.

While this isn’t on par with Shin Godzilla (let’s face it, that film is amazing), Shin Ultraman is a great throwback to the original show. It manages to be both silly and deadly serious, with crisis after crisis for Shin Ultraman and the team as new monsters wreak havoc on Japan. (Don’t like one of the invading beasts? Don’t worry, you’ll get a new one a few minutes later.) While the filmmakers say this isn’t a commentary on the Japanese government the way Shin Godzilla was, the Japanese government's inability to handle disasters is again portrayed in a negative light.

I don’t know about you but when I’m watching a kaiju movie, I’m definitely there for the monster-vs.-monster action. In this case, it’s monster vs. Ultraman, and I wasn’t disappointed. The fights, whether on the ground or in space, were fun to watch, and the inventive creature designs ranged from weird to downright bizarre (I’m talking fedora-wearing-alien bizarre). While there aren’t technically any man-in-suit monsters in Shin Ultraman, bless the filmmakers for making the digital monsters move as if they were a performer under pounds of rubber. After all, part of the fun of watching kaiju films is seeing those lumbering monsters stomp all over miniatures of Tokyo, and Shin Ultraman upgrades that carnage for modern audiences. Come for the epic ass kickings, stay for the silliness of giant monsters battling a huge metal man.

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Shin Ultraman, Shinji Higuchi, Takumi Saitō, Masami Nagasawa, Akari Hayami, Tetsushi Tanaka, Hidetoshi Nishijima

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