For 45 years they have protected Earth, a planet that reminds them of their Ancient Past. The Ultraman, from the Land Of Light(aka Planet Ultra) in the Nebula M78. In the near future, mankind will also expand into the universe. ZAP SPACY, the organization leading everything, will find itself in a fierce battle with the scrounges of the universe as both Mankind and Ultramen move into a new chapter of their history with an evil, all-powerful ultra breaks out of space prison with a weapon that can control 100 monsters at one time. Written by
Hands down one of the best of the Ultraman Movies - Pure Eye Candy Fun
Sakamoto Koichi's crowd-pleasing and ambitious film "Daikaiju Battle-Ultra Ginga Densetsu The Movie AKA Great Monster Battle Ultra Galaxy The Movie" is a nostalgic, fun movie that is pure eye candy and primarily made for the benefit of fans of Tsuburaya Production's landmark Ultraman series of the late 60s and 70s. While children will love it on a strictly visual level, their parents (especially the Dads) will probably get even more sentimental over all the classic Ultra heroes and monsters and marvel at this, their best movie adventure to date.
"Ultra Galaxy The Movie" is the theatrical film tie-in to Tsuburaya's hit TV series of the same name which aired from February - December 2007. Based on Bandai Entertainment's arcade/video combat simulation game "Daikaiju Battle: Ultra Monsters" the story revolved around young hero Rei (Minami Shota) who was secretly an human hybrid of the Reiblood Alien Race and who had control over the "Battle Nizer" a control device in which he can take command over various "kaiju" (monsters) and use them in battle, similar to the anime "Pokemon" series. Rei would use his Battle Nizer to control the likes of such fan favorite Ultra Monsters like Gomon (from the Ultraman series) or Litra (from Ultra Q series) and use them as allies in fighting a host of other recognizable Ultraman alien villains and kaiju. While short on story, part of the fun of the series was in watching the various monsters duke it out in "Battle Royale" fashion against each other each week (somewhat similar to Tsuburaya's failed old 70s series "Ultra Fight"). The series spawned a sequel called "Ultra Galaxy Dai Kaiju Battle Never Ending Odyssey" (Dec. 2008 - January 2009) which fleshed out more of Rei's past.
"Ultra Galaxy The Movie" however does not focus just on the monsters but brings in the famed "Ultraman Brothers" back to the big screen as well. Director Sakamoto along with writers Kashaihara Tatsuro, Kobayashi Yuji and Okabe Junya craft a very ambitious and thrilling story which truly makes this the greatest of the Ultraman stories to date.
The story introduces audiences to the corrupt renegade Ultraman named Belial(voiced by "20th Century Boy's" Miyasako Hiroyuki), who has gained control of the "Giga Battle Nizer", a cosmic device in which he can control the spirits of 100 of the Ultraman Brother's greatest fallen opponents. Belial was imprisoned centuries ago by Ultra King (voiced by former Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Jyunichi) in a cube-like satellite orbiting the "M-78 AKA The Ultra Hoshi/Star" home planet to the Ultra Brothers. Belial is released by the chameleon alien Zarab and uses his new found freedom to steal the "Plasma Spark" which is the life battery of M-78, causing the planet to instantly freeze over. Original Ultraman (Kurobe Susumu), Ultra Seven (Moritsugu Koji) and Ultraman Mebius (Igarashi Shunji) survive the onslaught and go seek the help of Rei, who as a "Leonix" (having the DNA of the Reiblood) is the only other alien who possesses a Battle Nizer and can control other Kaiju. With the aid of Rei's ZAP Spacy comrades, the team are also joined by alternate time line hero Ultraman Dyna (Tsuruno Takeshi) and Ultra Seven's rebel son Ultraman Zero (voiced by Miyano Mamoru) who was under the training of Ultraman King, Ultraman Leo and Astra.
Like Toho's similar all-star hero spectacle "Kamen Rider Decade: All Rider vs. Dai Shocker" (which was released at about the same time), "Ultra Galaxy" features cameos and appearances by virtually every single Ultraman hero. Granted, while the main focus of the film was on Original Ultraman, Seven, Mebius, Dyna and the new Zero, other Ultraman heroes also got their spotlight including Jack, Ace, Taro, Leo, Astra, Zoffy as well as lesser heroes Ultraman 80, Yurian, Ultraman Great, Ultraman Hikari and Ultraman Powered. It was also great fun to see some of the anime Ultraman in the flesh as well (Ultraman USA -Scott, Beth, Chuck, The Ultraman and Ultraman Kids) Unfortunately no Adromelos or Zearth.
While Ultraman Belial is truly a menacing force he did seem a bit too powerful an opponent. His look reminds me a lot of Venom from "Spider-Man 3" and his powers seem akin to Freddy Krueger from the "Nightmare On Elm Street Movies" (not dream but matter manipulation). He didn't really seem that interesting a villain apart from him being the first true evil Ultraman (not sure if Shadow or Agul count).
The "100 Monster" army of Belial was certainly a who's who of recognizable alien and monster opponents from all the various Ultraman series (Baltan, King Joe Black, Z-Ton etc) but they were pure cannon fodder for the heroes to slaughter through and didn't give much of any fight.
While some of the CGI effects by Okabe Junya and Koyasu Hajime are indeed stellar and are perhaps the best seen to date on a Tokusatsu Movie they aren't quite matching the work of top SFX studios like Weta or Industrial Light and Magic although they are indeed top notch. Some of the design details seemed a bit too reminiscent to the "Star Wars Prequels" and "Superman" (M-78 looks very much like Krypton).
The stunt work by action coordinator Noguchi Akihiro (Power Rangers series) definitely is inspired by Hong Kong wushu cinema and involved a lot of "wire-fu" and martial arts combat.
"Ultra Galaxy" is indeed a very slick looking film and seems very much crafted to appeal to jaded audiences abroad especially the in US. Sakamoto's previous experience with the Tokusatsu genre both in front of and behind the camera on shows such as "The Power Rangers" series has given him a very straight-to-the-punch style of directing and it does make "Ultra Galaxy" a tight and brisk moving film.
I truly enjoyed this film and as a Tokusatsu/Ultraman World fan was very impressed by Sakamoto's attention to detail and he really delivered a good looking and fun film.
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