Shin Ultraman (2022)

Shin Ultraman (2022)

A somewhat repetitive but gloriously campy slice of Japanese superhero sci-fi

7.1

Movie

Japan
English, Japanese, Russian
Action, Science Fiction
2022
SHINJI HIGUCHI
Akari Hayami, Bin Furuya, Daiki Arioka
112 min

TLDR

Don't let anybody stop you from filming a normal conversation from 5,000 Dutch angles.

What it's about

A mysterious alien giant appears in Japan to help quell the threat of hostile kaiju appearing in the area.

The take

Although this adaptation of the 1960s TV show feels like four episodes of material crammed into a feature runtime, Shin Ultraman really does squeeze as much as it can out of every scene, sometimes to the point of exhaustion. Not only are the action scenes as ridiculous as they should be—still imitating the clunkiness and the theatricality of classic Japanese tokusatsu—but even sequences of exposition are made to feel urgent and breathless by breakneck comedic editing and by placing the camera in the weirdest positions for the quickest shots. And somehow, Shin Ultraman still doesn't feel like it's making fun of its source material. It's an honest-to-goodness sci-fi superhero movie that's much more insightful about the nature of international crises than Hollywood tends to be.

What stands out

There's already plenty to love here for fans of old school sci-fi, not just tokusatsu but anything from classic American superhero TV shows to Mystery Science Theater 3000. But what helps sell the campiness of Shin Ultraman is that every actor here is treating this project like it's the most dead-serious thing in the world. Most notably, Hidetoshi Nishijima—who had just recently given a searing, soul-stirring performance in the critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated Drive My Car—appears here as the leader of the task force tracking kaiju activity. And seeing him apply the same sort of stony attitude to this movie is both hilarious and incredibly impressive.

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