"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Thursday, October 4, 2012

3D Film Makes 2D US Debut at the 32nd HIFF

Original Japanese promotional handbill for ULTRAMAN SAGA (2012)

The most recent feature film in the Ultra Series franchise, Hideki Oka's ULTRAMAN SAGA, the first to be shot in 3D, hit Japanese Cinemas this past March 24th (in both 3D and 2D versions). Usually, Stateside fans must wait for a DVD or Blu-ray release, or the rare screening at industry events — or film festivals such as FanTasia.

But, this year, Ultraman was suspiciously absent from the world-famous Montreal-based film festival, and so the 32nd Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) is picking up the slack — it's no surprise that the Honolulu-based event would include a heavy dose of Japanese Cinema, but hosting ULTRAMAN SAGA was a definite surprise.

An English Subtitled, 2D version of ULTRAMAN SAGA. will be screened only once during this year's HIFF, at the Royal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 Theaters & IMAX, in Dole Cannery C, Saturday, October 13th at 11:30 am. The 32nd TIFF runs from October 11-21, and is also screening the tokusatsu-themed feature, Yuihiko Tsutsumi's EIGHT RANGERS (2012).

From the HIFF's Program Guide: 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, played by members of the female idol group AKB48. They and a group of young children are the last survivors on planet Earth.

In another universe, Ultraman Zero receives a distress call and proceeds toward the Earth in aid. From yet another universe, 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 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. 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…

For more information, please visit the official Hawaii International Film Festival website.

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