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Release Date: 07/04/23 [VOD]
Genre: Action. Adventure. Drama.

Studio: Toho Company.

"As the threat of giant unidentified lifeforms known as "S-Class Species" worsens in Japan, a silver giant appears from beyond Earth's atmosphere." 


In a summer full of giant blockbusters - some even with an atomic scale, Toho brings us another Kaiju film to match the scale of the American summer release schedule. After the devastating, but powerful Shin Godzilla, Toho follows up the updated kaiju film with a new interpretation of the famous Ultraman in the new Shin Ulraman film. Returning to write the film is renowned producer Hideaki Anno with Shinki Higuchi at the director’s help. Though it doesn’t have the political edge and emotional power that Shin Godzilla had, Shin Ultraman delivers a contemplating film about the human condition while also delivering a fun and wacky action film that is incredibly electric.

Following several kaiju attacks in Japan, the S-Class Species Suppression is established to fight off further kaiju attacks. As they find an alien whose intention is to further conflicts between humans, an SCSS member is transformed into Ultraman in order to protect humans from future annihilation. A different ensemble is thrown our way this time around including Takumi Saitoh, Masami Nagasawa, and even a personal favorite of mine, Hidetoshi Nishijima. This is an incredibly fun ensemble that adds so much energy outside of the seismic fights, and the film never becomes dull.

This honestly, was quite different from Anno’s previous effort, Shin Godzilla. Where that film had contemplations on the self-destructive nature of the human species, it also features a massive devastating scale that was ever so impactful and powerful in that installment. Here, Anno takes a backseat with Shinkji Higuci at the director’s chair and Anno only handles the script. Shin Ultraman keeps it fairly light and doesn’t have as much devastation, but rather, works successfully in making you feel like you’re watching an episode of something in the Ultraman series. The cinematic aspect is never sacrificed though, as Higuci delivers contemplations on the human condition and just what makes the human race worth saving. In times it gets a bit existential and dire, but there’s a real warm heart to Shin Ultraman that no other film in 2023 really has.

In a ways, you could call Shin Ultraman, one of 2023’s best superhero films - it’s got the scale, the heroism, the comedy, the might, and the humanity. It’s a much different film than Shin Godzilla entirely, but Higuci and Anno really give a story that’s both emotionally satisfying and thoroughly entertaining to watch. Count me down as even more excited for the follow-up which has Anno back in the director’s chair, Shin Kamen Rider. With the messy slate the monsterverse had over here in the US, with Godzilla, and Ultraman, Toho still stands as the king of the monsters. 

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