I could say this is a beautiful illustration of Venom or Carnage painted by Alex Ross. But it’s not. It’s just a screencap from one of the recent Ultraman movies. Hugely popular in Japan. What you see there is an actor in a suit.
A movie that is utterly ridiculous. They start fighting from the first minute and continue till the last, barely speaking a line of dialogue between one scene and the next. One hour and half in total. Of (extremely redundant) fighting.
It’s almost an anti-movie. The kind of stuff that is at the same time brilliant and atrocious. The whole movie takes place on CG backgrounds, so it’s all done in bluescreen. It’s not completely CG, the actors are real, only wearing costumes and 95% of the time expressionless masks. I mean, when you have a CG movie, like those made by Pixar, all the effort goes to build communicative expressions. Here instead the masks negate all form of expression from the only element that in not CG, so you have at best the posturing trying to communicate something. Suits hiding real actors on top of fake backgrounds. There’s also something of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis as the staff that the bad guy wields makes weird piano notes when he fights.
The plot itself is a cliched hodgepodge of eastern and western plot patterns. The Ultramen are very similar to the Green Lanterns, surveying and policing the galaxy, defending the many planets from oversize dinosaur-like monsters. Their home planet risked to die after the sun exploded (like Superman), then compensated by the construction of an artificial sun that also turned all the population into masked super-heroes. A power that then lures those who are the most ambitious and want it all for themselves. The rest seems like a copy of Star Wars without plot, characters or setting (and budget). Just fights and “impressions”. And in between there’s also a father-son thing going on, with the son being exiled on another planet with a Yoda-like instructor in order to learn how to resist the lure of power and its responsibilities.
But as I said it has its charm and it should be seen, at least as a weird experiment. I had to research a bit, as the story connects here and there with other material. This is the most concise list of stuff available subtitled and directly connected material, leaving out the main series:
– Ultraman Mebius Side Story: Ghost Reverse (Part I&II) – Two half an hour special episodes that vaguely set-up the first movie
– Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends – 96 minutes movie, the screenshot is taken from this
– Ultra Galaxy Side Story: Ultraman Zero Vs Darclops Zero (Part I&II) – Two half an hour special episodes setting up the sequel
– Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial – 100 minutes sequel to Ultra Galaxy movie. This one is the one they say it’s good and that prompted me to watch from the start, hoping to find some trace of “plot”