The team that brought you Shin Godzilla is back with a reboot of another Japanese Icon, Ultraman. Shin Ultraman plays Fantasia Film Festival 2022.
If you’re going to modernize one of the sterling examples of Tokusatsu over the last fifty years, you would want only the best. Enter director Shinji Higuchi and screenwriter Hideaki Anno who together co-directed Shin Godzilla have respective duties in Shin Ultraman. The results are a very loving tribute to the Ultraman Franchise and something a little bit different.
The duo has created a film that feels retro in the best possible way retaining the type of FX work that looks like Tokusatsu straight out of the late 1960s including the awkward posing of Ultraman as he deals his form of badassery. There is something lovingly awkward and goofy that feels perfectly aligned throughout the entirety of the film. Shin Ultraman isn’t a satire or parody mocking the history of Ultraman and the multiple TV series and films from the storied franchise. Rather, this film is a loving tribute to those Film and TV series that captured the imagination of so many – including these filmmakers.
Screenwriter Anno is at home in this world of bureaucracy, kaijus, and world-ending stakes. As in work like his amazing anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shin Ultraman alternates between epic action scenes and intimate scenes of contemplation. The story adroitly sets up the kaijus have been awoken by humanity and in part earth’s doom is humanity’s fault.
Though Shin Ultraman is never a contemplative slog. Director Higuchi’s lean economical approach always has the film on the move and never a wasted moment. Even the scenes of bureaucracy have a tension to them. The film expertly alternates between inventive action scenes and plot-driven scenes of groups trying to resolve the kaiju problems they have. Part of the fun of Shin Ultraman is the variance in the way the action scenes are executed. It never resorts to just “punching and laser beam” but there’s a wit and intelligence to the way things are constructed. Anno’s script makes sure that each of these set pieces moves the plot forward rather than just being there for the sake of visual bombast.
Shin Ultraman succeeds in giving us a brand-new version of Ultraman that is epic, fun, funny, a bit psychedelic multiverse trippiness, and all together … hopeful. It may be the most radical notion in 2022. Shin Ultraman is at every turn hopeful in humanity and its ability to solve its own issues.
Though it does help that we have a really kick-ass giant Alien Robot helping us out.