So the Attack on Titan movies has had their theatrical run here in America, and I saw both of them. What did I think of them?
Loosely based on the manga by Hajime Isayama, Attack on Titan is a two-part film directed by Shinji Higuchi, distributed by Toho Company. Notice that I said “loosely”, because right off the bat, there are very noticeable differences that aren’t gonna satisfy anyone who is a big fan of the series. Notably, the entire cast and setting are all Japanese. Aside from the Military Police wearing what appears to be Nazi-style uniforms, which downright says “Hmm, how can we make a corrupt organization look even more corrupt? I know, let’s make them into Nazi!” The core elements that makes it Attack on Titan are there, but that’s it.
That’s the thing about adapting something to a different medium; there will be changes because certain elements won’t work the way they do. That is not the case here. The changes here in the Attack on Titan film just does not work.
Characters are pretty much changed to the point that they’re pretty much different. I think the most blatant change is Mikasa. Since the film has changed the characters’ ethnicity to Japanese, her being one of the last few people of Asian descent in a vaguely European setting is lost. A very egregious change is the moment in which she receives her iconic red scarf from Eren. Here, he just gives it to her. No reason, no context; he’s just goes like “Here, have a scarf.” Also, she’s much more apathetic and cynical than her manga counterpart. This is because during the attack on Zhigansh– er…, Monzen, she was attacked by a titan while protecting an infant and was presumed dead for two years. The infant was killed and she ended up with a nasty scar on the left side of her abdomen. Basically her character went from being “This is a hellish world we live in, but there’s something in it that’s worth living for.” to just “This is a hellish world we live in.”
As you might have figured, there are a few characters that are created for the film. The few notable ones include Sannagi, a guy who wrestled with a Titan with his bare hands! (Damn, son!) Hiana, a single mother who enlisted in the Scout Regiment to obtain child support, yet her most notable scene is her attempt to bang Eren (I need an adult!). And then there’s Shikishima, who is basically the closest the movie has to a Levi character. Shikishima is basically Mikasa’s mentor/love interest. He’s also kinda an asshole and you can tell that because he eats apples dramatically.
I’d say that one of the only redeeming qualities that makes this film at least interesting is the Titans. Except for the Colossal Titan, the Titans are actual actors in makeup and bodysuits. As someone who has started to appreciate the use of practical effects over CGI effects (Thank you, Mad Max: Fury Road), I was quite entertained with the film-makers’ choice to use actors in rubber suits. Then again, I should’ve expected this from Toho films, who made themselves known for making kaiju films such as Godzilla.
I’d say Attack on Titan Part 1 is a mediocre film that’s really only worth one watch, just to see how it compares to the anime and/or manga. So with that done, does Part 2: End of the World fare any better?
So first things first, whatever knowledge of the manga you have won’t help you here. In fact, even if the books don’t matter anyway, trying to compare End of the World to the manga will probably screw up your head if the movie itself doesn’t. Keep in mind that (as of this writing) I’m only up to date with the first season of the anime.
The film begins with an 8 to 10 minute recap of the first part before kicking off the movie proper, starting with Eren being imprisoned by the military police for being revealed to be a Titan only taken by an Armored Titan (who also takes characteristics of the Female Titan, being the central antagonist of the arc).
Now here comes the part where the movie turns into The Matrix: Reloaded. Eren wakes up in a white room with a jukebox playing “The End of the World” by Skeeter Davis (subtle). At the end of the first film, we learn that the Titans’ weakpoint was the nape on their necks because that’s where the human inside is at. Shikishima is also there and he explains that Titans are actually human bioweapons created by the American government, but they grew out of control and caused modern civilization to fall apart. And the attack on Monzen was just a wake-up call. Yeah, everywhere outside of Monzen is more or less a modern-day/near-future civilization. I guess that explains why rocket-propelled grenade launchers and vehicles exist in this movie.
There’s not following the source material, then there’s flat-out ignoring it, which is what End of the World does. I mean, yeah. the fact that there are humans capable of shifting into Titans is probably the only thing the movie has. After all that is said and done, I was scratching my head when the credits rolled. I almost wanted to scream out “What?!” There is a post-credits scene that leaves a possibility for another sequel, but this only leaves more questions unanswered, especially considering that there aren’t (as of this writing) any plans to make another film.
Both movies clock it at roughly an hour and a half each, so you’re basically watching a 2-hour 40-minute film in portions of halves. Since Kill Bill, it’s starting to become commom practice in film industry to split a massive film into parts in order to be able to tell a full story that one film can’t on its own. Unlike say, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a 5-hour film among two halves, personally I think Attack on Titan didn’t really needed to be split into half. I sat through The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar and Transformers: Age of Extinction; all three of these films clocked in at around that same length. I’m pretty sure these films could’ve been a somewhat better film overall if it was just one film.
After the Death Note films, I though Japanese filmmakers can do no wrong in adapting manga to film. compared to American filmmakers. I mean, shit, do you really want another Dragonball Evolution? Then I saw these movies, and yeah. Even Japan can have their misses. My opinion still hasn’t changed about the films as a whole, alhough the second film is a much weaker one. They’re only worth just one watch. Honestly, I don’t see myself watching them again.