Ultraman: Rising Movie Review: A gleeful superhero adventure

Ultraman: Rising Movie Review: A gleeful superhero adventure

The film's comedy dynamics, central conflict, relatable themes, and baby Kaiju, make it a superhero adventure with a fresh twist
Ultraman: Rising(3 / 5)

Netflix's animated film Ultraman: Rising starts with a scene that serves as a moment of truth for its protagonist, Ken Sato (Christopher Sean). Ken’s father, an Uncle Ben-like figure named Professor Sato (Gedde Watanabe), asks him whether he wants to be a baseball player or take on the mantle of Ultraman, Earth's last line of defence against colossal, city-stomping Kaiju. A confused Ken cannot decide for himself, and the moment instantly reminds you of Uncle Ben telling Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Director: Shannon Tindle

Voice cast: Christopher Sean, Gedde Watanabe, Tamlyn Tomita, and Keone Young

Streamer: Netflix

Director Shannon Tindle’s Ultraman: Rising offers a vibrant blend of classic Kaiju action and a story with relatable themes like family values, parenthood, identity versus responsibility, and so forth. Torn between his passion for baseball and the weighty mantle of Ultraman, he wrestles with responsibility and self-doubt. This internal struggle is reminiscent of many superhero origin stories, from Superman to Spider-Man. However, Ultraman: Rising does not simply retread old ground. The film cleverly uses this trope to explore themes of identity and legacy, particularly the question of whether heroism is a choice or a birthright.

The film truly shines in its world-building. It paints a vivid picture of a world where Kaiju attacks are a constant threat, forcing humanity to develop advanced technology for defence. This technology extends to Ultraman himself, whose sleek armour suit and instant transformation capabilities resemble Iron Man. Adding to the Iron Man parallels is Mina (Tamlyn Tomita), Ultraman's witty AI companion. Their banter provides a steady stream of humour throughout the film, reminiscent of Tony Stark's interactions with J.A.R.V.I.S.

Ultraman: Rising carves its own niche by introducing a unique twist: a colossal, adorable baby kaiju that Ken must raise and protect. This addition injects a surprising dose of heart and humour into the film. The scenes between Ken and the baby Kaiju are a delightful mix of oddball comedy and genuine connection.

The film's early acts are a joy to watch. It establishes the universe with clear worldbuilding, introduces the characters with relatable personalities, and sets the stage for the irresistible comedic dynamic between Ken and Mina. The plot thickens with the emergence of the Kaiju Defense Force (KDF), a seemingly noble organisation tasked with protecting Tokyo from Kaiju threats. However, a hidden agenda and a sinister leader, Dr Onda (Keone Young), cast a shadow of doubt on the KDF's true intentions. This unexpected twist adds a layer of intrigue to the plot and raises the stakes.

While the final showdown between Ultraman and Dr Onda feels slightly rushed, it does not overshadow the overall entertainment value. The animation shines throughout the film, particularly during the action sequences. The Kaiju designs are both awe-inspiring and destructive, and the battles showcase Ultraman's impressive array of powers with dazzling special effects.

Ultimately, Ultraman: Rising is a triumph. The film's humour, central conflict, and baby Kaiju make it a superhero adventure with a fresh twist.

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