November 07, 2005

ULTRAMAN NEXT (2004) - R2 DVD review

ULTRAMAN NEXT - THE MOVIE (2004) - Japanese R2 DVD review
(Released by Emotion dvds)

OK, to recap. To coincide with 2004's ULTRAMAN NEXUS tv series, a movie, simply called ULTRAMAN, was released in Japan in November. The events in the movie helped to clarify (slightly) the climax of the NEXUS TV series. Popular in the cinemas, and even warmly received by critics, this is one of the most successful ULTRAMAN movies. I would argue that, even on their low budgets, the ULTRAMAN COSMOS movies had been of a very high standard too.

In ULTRAMAN NEXT, our new Ultra-hero starts as a humble fighter pilot for the Japanese self-defence forces. Before you can say "electrical storm", his jet hits a UFO and he melds with ULTRAMAN. Another evil UFO has already claimed a victim which keeps on absorbing animals, until he becomes the lizard-like monster baddie...

The ULTRAMAN NEXT suit looks more organic than usual, more 'Guyver'. I think this biological look works better for the various stages of monster rather than Ultraman himself (he looks his usual fantastic, shiny metallic self in the series though). In the early, moody low-light scenes, you can't tell when the lizardy monster is CGI or 'suitmation', it's very well done. The monster also has human eyes, another touch that really works. Towards the climax, the CGI stuff gets annoying, painstaking though it is - it just seems to me that once they use high-speed CGI representations, they throw out the idea of slow-motion to represent giant size creatures.

Thankfully, the Japanese DVD release has English subtitles, well-translated, for the feature only. Extras include a 20 minute featurette (with enough behind-the-scenes footage to explain the FX involved), trailers and TV spots. The film is presented 16:9 anamorphic, the audio is 5.1 dolby digital.


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