Sunday, September 27, 2015

Movie Review: Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人) 2 : End Of The World - Not Enough Crunchy Bits

Even though the live action movie "Attack on Titan" Part 1 did not meet most of the fans' expectations, it still had a pretty good box office run both in Japan and locally in Red Dot Island.

Part 1 made SGD 3.8 million (USD 4.8 million) in its opening week in Japan, and over here, gross takings was over SGD 818,000 after four weeks of screening at only 15 locations.

Red Dot Diva watched the preview of Part 2 earlier this month and was all set to enjoy a similar "fear experience" that was the most enjoyable aspect in the first movie.

To her surprise and disappointment, the follow-up film had fewer hungry Titans stomping and much less gore, with hardly any character development. In fact, some of the characters were hardly even seen or had spoken dialogue - like Sasha, for instance.

Instead, there was a lot of dialogue which slowed down the pace considerably, making the movie harder to sit through without feeling impatient. The action did pick up toward the end but by then, one would hardly care enough for the young cadet team to root for their victory.

Although, there were still one or two portions of the movie which seemed to be there for sheer amusement. Red Dot Diva had a good snigger during the prolonged homoerotic segment of Captain Shikishima's attempts to seduce Eren ideologically into going against the Military Police Brigade. The entire scene (were those actually sun lounges on a beach?!!) seemed so out-of-place in terms of the attraction between the two, that it felt like a badly delivered comedy skit.

If you are one of those who are already sorely disappointed with Part 1, Red Dot Diva recommends that it would be best to skip Part 2. Just to avoid further agitation. However, if you are completist, the Titan vs Titan fight sequences and several "Whaaat??" plot twists that called everything into question, may still be satisfied as to the resolution of the truth behind the giant monsters.

Or so it seems.

Hint: Stay on for that post-credit bit, and then you can decide if a possible Part 3 is worth your time.

Vernon, Red Dot Diva's movie-watching companion, has also reviewed "Attack on Titan" Part 2. Here are his thoughts, which were originally posted on his own blog, A Persistent Vision.


Attack on Titan tries to have its cake and eat it

When a popular work gets an adaptation, who is it made for? In the first Attack on Titan film, director Shinji Higuchi stripped the anime adaptation of the manga series to its bare bones and reconfigured the sci-fi horror franchise as a knowing nod to the zombie apocalypse genre.

It worked as great cinema: I for one loved the specifically Japanese historical allegory, existential anxiety, and political paranoia invoked by Higuchi, none of which were in the source material. "True fans" were horrified and incensed. The director failed to slavishly and mindlessly deliver a carbon copy of what they had watched or read. Which presumably is what true fans of modern fantasy and sci-fi adaptations have grown to love and demand. (Let's just pretend that Game of Thrones isn't a copy-paste of the novels, and isn't expected to be.)

If the first film set up an entire world and milieu, the second film sets everything into motion, at long last. Attack on Titan 2 also offers an olive branch to fans of the manga and anime series. If the predecessor was an attempt at worldbuilding and cinema for the sake of cinema, the sequel is an attempt at pure adaptation.

The sequel begins where the first ended: with the capture of the hero and protagonist Eren. There's still a mission to destroy the giant zombie Titans but first, the military would like to interrogate our shapeshifting hero and possibly dissect him for the sake of science. It's really a trick to put in all the fluff, exposition, and over-complicated backstory that Higuchi stripped away in the first film. Even the annoying, over the top, cartoonish extras that didn't quite fit in the zombie apocalypse feel of the first film are given meaty roles here. I'm talking about the narcissistic captain and the over-enthusiastic, weapons-crazy lieutenant.

It's a commendable effort, though pacing decidedly suffers for it. I am convinced that both parts of Attack on Titan are best seen in one viewing, like two-part movie adaptations of Gantz and Parasyte before it.



Thanks to Encore Films for the invite to the preview screening.

"Attack on Titan" Part 2 is currently showing in local theatres.

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