2004 superhero movie

Rating: 12/20

Plot: Teacher and big-time loser Shinichi spends his nights perfecting a Zebraman costume, his tribute to a thirty-year-old television show that only aired for seven episodes but that he is nevertheless obsessed with. After meeting a new friend, he starts to develop actual powers. Just in time, too, since aliens are trying to blow us up. Can Zebraman stop them in time or will the little green guys kill us all?

This usually doesn't trip me up, but the special effects in Zebraman, especially the computer animated stuff in the final third, fill the screen with such ugliness and ineptitude that it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Almost literally. I finished this movie, and it felt like I had eaten bad special effects. A ludicrous and incoherent climax combined with those awful colors, swirls of runny action, and garbled bombast stomps all over all the good stuff from the first two-thirds of the movie. And there is a lot to like in the first two-thirds. I always like Miike's sense of humor, here not quite as sick as in some of his previous work, and the almost-but-not-quite satirical quality kept me asking, "Is this for real?" Broken down, it's a pretty straight comic bookish superhero tale though. There's a lot of heart, a
likable protagonist, and an off-kilter funk that gave this a unique flavor, even when scenes showing the original Zebraman television show reminded me of the Power Rangers, and the low-key moments clashing with goofy action sequences reminded me of Big Man Japan. But then Miike makes us watch absurdly cartoonish bobbleheaded aliens and green newborns, and it all just gets gross. I'm probably aware that the grossness is intentional, but it didn't make it any more fun to watch. This was a great idea, but one poorly executed.

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