Archive for October 5th, 2012

Ultraman Saga (2012)

Ultraman Saga opens with a powerful apocalyptic vision of Tokyo, buildings destroyed and the city seemingly devoid of life. We are soon introduced to the Earth Defense Force (EDF), Team U. They and a group of young children and the last survivors on planet Earth after the world was invaded by the evil Alien Bat, the rest of the human population having been abducted. In an alternate universe in which he defeated Ultraman Belial in the previous movie (Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial), Ultraman Zero receives a distress call and proceeds into the multiverse and finds our universe. He goes towards the Earth in aid, and from yet another universe, that from which Ultraman Dyna disappeared through a black hole 15 years ago, a young defense team pilot named Taiga is trapped in the ship of an invading alien force, who quickly disappear to another dimension. Taiga soon finds himself in another world, in the apocalyptic version of Tokyo, as Ultraman Zero battles a huge fleet of alien spaceships. As Taiga notices a crashing ship heading straight towards a young boy, he pilots his ship directly into its path in an act of self-sacrifice. Witnessing his brave actions, Ultraman Zero rescues Taiga and joins with him. Taiga soon encounters Ultraman Cosmos and his human host Musashi, along with Team U and the children. He and Musashi learn that Ultraman Dyna and his human host Asuka had once stayed with the team and protected them, but that was lost in battle with the alien Zetton. It is now up to Taiga and Musashi to protect the survivors. However, Taiga is not so happy to be joined with Ultraman Zero, and has no intention of fighting…

Despite the Ultraman movies being targeted primarily for kids, part of the strength of Ultraman has always been the way it also manages to appeal for adults as well. I’ve watched several of the movies they’ve made since 2000 and they’ve been very good but it seems that something has gone wrong with this one as I just didn’t enjoy it that much. It’s like they’ve tinkered with the formula that made the previous movies so good and what you get here leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. The plot I thought was going to be fairly interesting due to the sombre beginning with Tokyo in ruins but this didn’t go anywhere in the end. A bonus for me in initially watching this movie was the addition of several members of my favourite idol group AKB48 in the cast. There are 7 of them in total which includes my oshimen Ayaka Umeda as Misato. Apart from Sayako Akimoto who plays Team U leader Anna, the others don’t get to do that much. The studio obviously thought that they could cash in on the popularity of the group and attract their fans to watch the movie. One of the biggest problems I found was there’s far too many comedic moments which I didn’t find funny at all and were poorly executed. Kids might find it amusing but anybody else will just roll their eyes. I felt that some of the comedy was so embarassing. I didn’t feel any suspense or excitement in the action scenes, I was like “is that it?’. The movie came across as dull and just going through the motions. I wasn’t too keen on the overuse of CG effects either.

Daigo in the role of Taiga/Ultraman Zero is one of the biggest disappointments acting wise in the movie. His performance is cringeworthingly bad and OTT. It’s hard at times to know if the character of Taiga is being serious or funny. Adult fans will find it hard to connect to the character and consequently will not really give a toss about him – I didn’t anyway! Thankfully Takeshi Tsurno as Ultraman Dyna even though he doesn’t appear for nearly 2/3 of the movie gives probably the best performance out of everybody involved which says a lot about the bad acting you’ll encounter. There’s too many kids who are just there in the background of the movie – I’m not sure if their purpose is just to be seen to look happy or sad in some scenes. Makes you wonder why they’re in the movie at all. Only one of them is given a substantial role and I wouldn’t say he’s that great either. I would have liked to have seen more of Ayaka Umeda but alas she’s only seen fleetingly in some scenes.

All in all, not a great movie for Ultraman fans though I’m sure kids will enjoy it. It was lackluster with terrible acting from some members of the cast. I do hope they’ll be an improvement with the next Ultraman movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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