Controlled Chaos: Our Review of ‘Ultraman Rising’

Posted in What's Streaming? by - June 14, 2024
Controlled Chaos: Our Review of ‘Ultraman Rising’

An AI assistant, Mina, scans Kenji ‘Ken’ Sato (Christopher Sean’s voice) for injuries after playing a baseball game and fighting kaiju. This first go around, his enemy is the kaiju Gigantron. The former he plays as himself and the latter as his alter ego, the titular character in director and co-writer Shannon Tindle’s Ultraman Rising. Specifically, the latter is more of a three way fight between Ultraman, the kaiju, and the bellicose KDF. The KDF – lol – kill the kaiju but somehow Ultraman ends up with raising the baby the kaiju carries. This film, just like many Netflix efforts, has its flaws but I appreciate it for that opening idea.

Of course kaijus were babies and have them and I can’t believe I’m just watching something about that now. This animation film is, then, about the adversarial yet respectful relationship between the Japanese people and the kaiju. It’s also about similar adversarial yet respectful relationships Ken has with his father, Professor Hayao Sato (Gedde Watanabe) and pesky yet empathetic journalists. Animation films like this are all about design and it’s this aspect that I have nuanced thoughts about. It beautifully depicts Tokyo which is always going to be a cool city, expressing its figures through neon. Lines pass through the screen in Ultraman Rising and thank God, the movement doesn’t give my ageing ass a debilitating migraine.

The sound design in Ultraman Rising finds a balance in evoking chaos without overtly distressing its target viewers. That’s what the high vocal registers are for, as it evinces the reaction towards kaiju if they existed. The vocal acting is also great, with great supporting work from Tamlyn Tomita as Ken’s late mother Emiko. As much as I like this film though, some aspects of character design makes me wish for better. They draw Ken as both muscular and young but I don’t like how top heavy his character is. His hair, as well as the journalist look like they put on the same hair gel I stopped using. Another thing I dislike about this is that its villain, Dr. Onda, doesn’t have enough nuance to him.

Clocking in at 121 minutes, Ultraman Rising‘s third act has him talking about ‘Kaiju Island’ too frequently to my taste. The relationship between him and the Satos, or his backstory, comes up way too late for me also. But after all, he symbolises the lack of nuance that some people have about real life wars. There are people like Dr. Onda in real life who see the destruction of their enemy as their goal. At the same time, all these flaws are negligible for a film that is as much about setpieces. The viewers watching it are anticipating fights that, surprisingly, have multiple fronts and alliances that shift just enough. The fights,then, show Dr. Onda and the KDF fight Baby, Ultraman, and allies too good to spoil here.

Ultraman Rising comes out both in select Canadian theatres and on Netflix on June 14.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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