Attack On Titan
I could not let an opportunity like this pass me by; I got to see Attack On Titan in a Toho Cinema, and to my surprise was excited to watch a Japanese movie again, even though it was not subtitled. Everyone around me was excited, too, though leery as to what the new “changes” were. And yes, there are CHANGES.
If you are a fan of acting, this may NOT be the movie for you.
If you are a fan of the manga or anime series that everyone raves about (available on Netflix), this mayyyy NOT be the movie for you also. If you are a fan of Levi, and I know you are, because he and Mikasa are the coolest characters in this franchise…. nope… not for you either.
But if you are interested in seeing how they can turn the idea of the Titans into an epic visual wowapalooza, yup, see this movie.
I will be very honest, I really wanted to give this movie a chance. I have had my fair share of disappointing, never again will I watch another adaptation of Japanese Manga moments, such as Gatchaman. But this was something that was Japan’s chance to make something great. I mean, they created the giant things smashing buildings genre, right?
So here we go. This may contain SPOILERS.
The setup: 100 years ago Titans arrived and started eating up mankind Great, and it's followed by a simple setup explaining how men built the walls to protect against the Titans. So far, so good, though a little out of order from the manga.
Then you hear the soundtrack, which is very Celtic and European, with a splendid set that has the look of a Chinese or South Asian marketplace. Here we are introduced to Armin, who I thought was Eren, and Mikasa.
Hold on; this is the first jarring moment a fan has. There are automobiles, and a horn that's run by a battery, and everyone is Asian. For fans this is exactly what started the hate craze, before the movie's release date even was even announced. The setting isn’t even in Germany. It is visibly in Japan. And a future Japan, not a different universe timeline -- it is visibly a future wasteland because they make it very clear visually: there are helicopters, and a fuselage with a vintage “Blonde” pinup girls painted on the nose.
Okay, so it takes a few minutes to readjust, which was easy to do, because the exposition in the field was taking forever, to provide a contrast between nature and the inner city feel this new world has. This is where we are introduced to Eren. And this is where I cringe and make the giant "NOOOOOOOooooo" yell that I should have expected.
This is where I have issues with Japanese style acting, and editing, and where I tell people that this is where Japanese cinema fails. Many directors in Japan agree, but this is how it is done in Japan. Overacting! It works in anime, but it does not work in live action.
We are not 10 minutes into this film yet, and we haven’t seen a Titan. And I promised to give this movie a shot. More talking about being a caged animal, and venturing too close to the wall in a restricted area, then a fight scene between security guards who catch them, and that leaves me tilting my head when we are Introduced to Souda.
Okay, nice recovery, but now we have an Eren that is just a cocky S.O.B. who is just a troublemaker, because he is. Armin, who is now the only strong character so far as well as a genius, and Mikasa, who now we have NO idea who she is, because her whole backstory is defunct for being the only remaining Asian woman that we know of in the land, but now we are in Japan, so why is she so special?
What? Could that be? Oh thank goodness, I was starting to overthink what was going on at this point and was saved by a Titan.
Sure enough, it was a Titan, and it was a great introduction.
This is where the movie turned around for me, even if it was just for a little bit. The visual of the Titans where nicely done. It put me back in the world, as we see them. Even if some were inexplicably deformed and super tiny.
And then somewhere down the line, they tried to do too much, Eren gets caught in a church? Mikasa is left outside trying to save a baby, and then, wait there is a Titan right behind her. The dynamic is now completely lost.
Where is Armin? Eren flees before the church turns into a buffet, and Mikasa is now gone. At this point in time I give up that this movie is Attack on Titan. It has the name, it has the concept, but anger more than anything sets in, because in this new universe there is no backstory. The music doesn’t make sense, because it's out of context, the characters now have no backstory, just a point of limited view. And the binding dynamic of protection and loss is completely lost.
We have no Father, who is a known scientist, No Mother that gets eaten in the end of the very first episode, which pushes Eren’s drive to kill Titans.
The scarf that Eren gives Mikasa really has little meaning, even when she returns with a new guy Shikishima, who is, or is basically as far as I can tell NOT Levi, but sure as hell acts like Levi, and who is a total ass, and is completely unlikable.
What makes it even worse is a great visual scene, but an awful attempt at this character establishing that he and Mikasa are an item making Eren jealous, and the overacting of Eren right after that left me once again shaking my head going, why?
Granted there are some cool ideas, like flame driven flashlights, that wait a minute, didn't we establish we have gas and batteries? The military police look like Nazi soldiers, which is eerie in its own right.
And then I realized, wait, where are the horses? Sadness, as some sporadic moments where the cinematography was so beautiful it hit me at the midway mark, when I started thinking about what was going on. Yes, Eren’s Titan is awesome, yes the titans are great, ok, we might close an eye to now having no idea who anyone realy is.
But when a fat guy all of a sudden goes head to head and judo throws a titan, I go What the heck man? Why doesn't everyone do that? Not even that Wilhelm scream can take my mind off of the what the heck are you thinking?!?!
The only character that was properly portrayed and was the star of this entire film was Hans (Still don't know why she still has a foreign name), the crazy scientist who was the best comic relief this movie had.
Overall, just weak execution, relying on our knowledge of characters that obviously are now not the same, and relying on our knowledge of the world that is now not the same, with characters with and without the same names for absolutely no reason what so ever other than franchising agreements? For a franchise that had all the potential, and to make it even more frustrating is that we know this was part 1, so it’s a setup to a part 2 that we are left having to pay for to find out where will they take this. Or should we even care at this point?
For fans, I feel your pain. For first timers, here is the low down. If you are interested, do yourself a favor and watch the anime, it's only 13 odd episodes so far. If you have the free time and you don't have to pay for it, go ahead. It can be fun, if you take logic out of the equation.