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Ultraman: Rising sees iconic superhero unleash his parenting powers

Ultraman: Rising sees iconic superhero unleash his parenting powers
Characters from Japanese television series Ultraman walk on the red carpet during the opening event of the Tokyo International Film Festival in Tokyo Oct 23, 2014.
PHOTO: Reuters file

LONDON — More than two decades in the making, a new Ultraman movie grounds the popular character with Earthly responsibilities.

Ultraman: Rising is a Japanese-American co-production written by Shannon Tindle and Marc Haimes that hopes to make the superhero relatable while honouring the franchise's legacy.

Born out of a 1960s Japanese television series, the red and silver-clad Ultraman is a superhero with alien powers who protects the Earth from a variety of monsters.

In the new film, which Tindle first started pitching in 2001, Ultraman not only fights monsters, he also has to raise one.

It sees US-based baseball star Ken Sato reluctantly travel to Tokyo to take over the role of Ultraman to help guard the city. To further complicate the challenge, he comes across a more than 10-metre tall fire-breathing baby kaiju, or giant monster, he must take under his protection.

For Tindle, who also directed the film, Ultraman: Rising is a celebration of the character and his own experiences as a father and a son.

"It's a story that I experienced myself when I became a father for the first time, understanding my mom and dad and choices they made. I thought that was something that could connect to a broader audience without needing any knowledge of who Ultraman was as a hero," he said.

Traditional Ultraman mythology is incorporated in the film that centres on Ultraman's core qualities.

"He's a unique hero," said John Aoshima, who co-directed the movie. "When you face a conflict, there's a lot of grey area. Ultraman will look at both sides and find the right balance to find peace within the two."

Tindle and Aoshima also incorporated their own experiences in the film.

"Ken Sato I relate with personally because he's Japanese-American and I shared my personal stories of what it was like to grow up in Japan and adapt in the US and not being seen like the others. I felt different," said Aoshima.

"I've lost a lot of my family members in the last few years," said Tindle. "A lot of my experiences in learning from their wisdom, have been put into the film."

"Those are common universal experiences, so I hope it will bring families closer together and they'll have a lot of fun watching this family come together," he added.

Ultraman: Rising starts streaming on Netflix globally on Friday.

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