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Ultraman Mebius & Ultra Brothers
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by Jay Seaver

"It's an Ultraman movie - no more, no less."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2007 FANTASIA FESTIVAL: If you're already a fan of Ultraman, you can probably ignore that low-to-middling rating: In the same way that I enjoy bits of "Transformers" in spite of myself and am a mark for things like the "Dukes of Hazard" reunion TV-movies, this movie is made for you. Not having been exposed to Ultraman at an impressionable age, I don't share your enthusiasm, but I don't begrudge you any enjoyment you may get from this film.

Twenty-five years ago the Yapool, a particularly nasty alien menace, landed on the moon and fought the Ultraman brothers by controlling a "U-Killersaurus" monster. It makes it to Earth, but the brothers create a "final force field" to imprison him in the ocean near Kobe, at the cost of their special energy and ability to transform into Ultramen. Now, young oceanographer Aya Jinguuji (Aiko Ito) is detecting something anomolous, so international paranormal respone team GUYS sends Mirai Hibino (Shunji Igarashi), who is secretly the alien hero Ultraman Mebius, to investigate. A team of four aliens are planning to attack the city and fight Mebius. Meanwhile, Mirai befriends Aya's seven-year-old brother Takato (Ouga Tanaka), who used to be a big fan of Ultraman and GUYS but has become timid since encountering a giant monster while playing.

The Ultraman Seven and Ultraman Mebius television series upon which the film is based are kids' shows, and the film is aimed directly at the pre-teen audience: All of the characters aside from the original Ultraman Brothers and Takato are barely out of their teens, a lot of time is spent on Takato and his dog, and the monsters are all men in brightly-colored suits, far from realistic enough to scare anyone. The story is as simple as they come, and it seems like a story a kid would tell, with things changing in the middle and new characters showing up out of nowhere. Adults may find themselves growing impatient at times, maybe even snickering if the film has no particular power of nostalgia over them.

I can see how the movie would hold that kind of appeal, even if I wasn't observing it all around me as it screened. Jiro Dan, Sumsumu Kurobe, Koji Maritsugu, and Keiji Takamine are reprising their roles from the 1967 show (though I imagine there are new stuntmen in the Ultraman suits when it comes time for sentai action), and not only do they all seem like affable folks who have aged well, but the transformative nature of their powers means we don't have to watch guys in their mid-sixties try to run, jump, and fight. Writer Ken'ichi Hasegawa deserves credit for finding a good balance between the nostalgia crowd and fans of the current Ultraman Mebius series

If you're not in either of those crowds, then there's not much here for you. The story seems made up as it goes along, the lessons to be learned are hammered home in fairly obvious fashion, and the performances are the sort of broad-but-muted variety you'd expect from children's TV. The action scenes are pretty typical sentai stuff, with showy movements and some middling digital effects. Some of those are pretty cartoony, especially when the newly-upgraded U-kilersaurus Neo is firing a few thousand missiles at the Ultramen, but that's in keeping with the intended audience; no need to make the violence too realistic or seamless.

"Ultraman Mebius & Ultra Brothers" is what it is - and Ultraman movie. If that floats your boat, you'll probably enjoy it as much as the long-time sentai fans who attending the screening I went to. If not, you'll probably be as detached and fidgety as I was.

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originally posted: 07/18/07 12:34:31
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Fantasia Film Festiva For more in the 2007 Fantasia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/22/07 Peter Lidi Fantastic fighting scenes 5 stars
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Directed by
  Kazuya Konaka

Written by
  Keiichi Hasegawa

  Susumu Kurobe
  Jiro Dan
  Shunji Igarashi
  Koji Moritsugu
  Keiji Takamine

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