Film Review: Shin Ultraman

At last, we’re one step closer to completing the trifecta of tokusatsu. In 2016, Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi teamed up to bring us Shin Godzilla, also known as Godzilla: Resurgence, in some markets.

Hideaki Anno, who is most well known for being the man behind the anime franchise Neon Genesis Evangelion, is well known as a fan of tokusatsu. While his partner in crime, Shinji Higuchi, became known for his work on Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, another tokusatsu film.

Tokusatsu is simply the category of film or show that involves the use of special effects, such as Godzilla, Metal Heroes, Dr. Who, Star Trek and now, Shin Ultraman.

If you’ve watched Shin Godzilla, then you can pretty much expect more of the same with Shin Ultraman, but ramped up. In fact, the movie can almost be considered a sequel to Shin Godzilla, as both films can easily fit together with minimal contradictions.

Where everybody spoke in rapid fire in order to deliver information as quickly and concisely as possible in Shin Godzilla, in Shin Ultraman, they sound as if they’re trying to get into The Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Fastest Talker (a title most famously held by John Moschitta Jr.). And rather than politicians going through red tape, the dialogue in Shin Ultraman focuses more on justifying the circumstances of each scene as it unfurls.

Honestly, the first third of the film is absolutely hilarious for long-time tokusatsu fans who are aware of the tropes associated with Ultraman and tokusatsu in general. To a regular viewer, the characters are simply explaining things in a logical manner, but to a fan, they are poking fun, non-stop at the conventions of the franchise and genre of Ultraman.

The rest of the movie then settles down and distils itself into very much the essence of Ultraman. The best thing about Shin Ultraman is that it feels very much like Ultraman. It isn’t like say, Star Trek: Discovery, which has nothing to do with Star Trek outside of recycling the name. Instead, Shin Ultraman embodies the “spirit” of Ultraman in a correct way.

The movie is not for casual viewers, who might not appreciate how quickly everyone speaks and how each plot point seems to jump from one end to the other, but for Ultraman fans, Shin Ultraman is truly a love letter to the original Ultraman. If you love Godzilla, Kamen Rider and their ilk, you owe it to yourself to watch Shin Ultraman.

And speaking of Kamen Rider, I can’t wait for Shin Kamen Rider to come out and complete the trifecta.

In the meantime, Shin Ultraman is currently available at GSC cinemas in Malaysia, including at GSC Ipoh Parade and GSC Aeon Big Falim. Check your local listings and book your tickets.

by KT Leong

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