Friday, 30 October 2015

Movie Review: Attack on Titan Parts 1 & 2

Directed by: Shinji Higuchi, 2015

Pros: excellent special effects, horrifically creepy titans, some interesting characters, learn origin of titans, thought provoking 

Cons: unnecessarily excessive shaky cam, LOTS of blood and gore, some caricature characters, ending has a confusion of action

It’s been a hundred years since the three circles of walls were built to keep the man eating titans out.  Some inhabitants are starting to question the necessity of the walls and even in the titans are real.  Suddenly the titans breach the wall and the horrifying reality of the titans is revealed.

I went into the film knowing nothing more than what the trailers said about it.  I haven’t read the manga or watched the anime.  So this review will only reference the film and won’t contain any comparisons between the stories across media (except to say that the people in costume in the row in front of us mentioned that the character Levi isn’t in the film).

There is a lot of blood in this film.  Now, that’s not surprising given the premise of man eating monsters, but there was a LOT of blood, and dismembered body parts, and people being crushed (sometimes with ridiculous ease and a giant explosion of blood).  The first half of the first film is especially horrific, as the titans wade through a town, killing indiscriminately.  The rest of the film, while still bloody, isn’t quite so bad.  

There’s also a lot of shaky cam.  While a few scenes benefitted from the effect - like the introduction
of the titans when the ground starts to shake - it’s often entirely unnecessary - like during the animated historical briefing title sequence.  As with the blood, it’s especially noticeable in the first part, though that could be because I was used to it by the time the second part started.

The special effects were, on the whole, amazing.  The design for the titans was awesome, though the first titan you see (the one on the poster above) isn’t representative of what titans look like en mass.  That titan looks like muscle on a skeleton with smoke coming out of the joints, while regular titans are gigantic humans with extra long mouths and offset features, like eyes too far apart.  They’re creepy and - at times - hilarious in a horrible kind of way, though some also look kind of goofy.  The end result is very creepy, especially as they’re tearing people apart and/or eating them whole.

You’re slowly introduced to three characters who play important roles in the fill, Eren (Haruma Miura), Mikasa (Kiko Mizuhara) and Armin (Kanata Hongo, who was also in the live action Gantz movie).  You’re given more information about them and their motivations than you are for the characters you meet in a more rushed way later.  In fact, later in the film you meet so many new characters it’s a challenge keeping them all straight and I didn’t remember more than one or two of their names afterwards.  

A few of the characters are basically caricatures and are clearly carried over from the manga.   Hange, a woman obsessed with titans and weapons is the best example of this.  She’s played mostly for comedic effect, but her actions seem starkly out of place given the grave nature of what’s happening in the film.

The teenage girls in the row behind us found one scene late in the first part that made them titter and laugh.  It’s a short scene and not graphic.

While I thought the ‘flying’ weapon get up was cool - and looked amazing when really skilled people, like Captain Shikishima used it - but recognized that it wouldn’t actually work in real life.  It propels you too quickly, there isn’t always something to hook into, and on the whole would be impossible to learn how to use effectively without killing yourself in the process (or the first time you tried to use it in battle).  But it does look cool on screen. 

I was really happy that part 2 of the film explains the origins of the titans.  And while the film didn’t answer every question, it did answer the major ones.  My husband found the ending a bit overdone in terms of the variety of action and character inclusion, though it was quite exciting to watch. 

The film does raise some questions about how people use fear to control others, whether rebellions are good or worse than the regimes they’re trying to replace, the nature of humanity, the uses of science, the desire for freedom, etc.  I love it when I spend the next day trying to parse what I’ve seen.

It’s not a film I feel I need to own, but it was an interesting story and I’m glad I saw it.

1 comment:

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