Director – Shinji Higuchi
Screenplay – Yusuke Watanabe and Tomohiro Machiyama
Producer – Yoshihiro Sato
Distributor – Toho
The massively popular Attack on Titan franchise has finally been given the live action treatment by Toho, the company that has previously brought huge monstrous creatures such as Godzilla and Rodan. This is a review of the second movie released in Japan and receiving its European première in Glasgow.
My review for part 1 proved quite controversial, indeed it seemed that the the people I watched the movie with had an even split between it being the best or worst thing they had ever seen and even the scores on the internet seem to reflect this. I stand by my original review, for all of its flaws it was still a fun spin on the Manga series which makes this review all the harder to write.
The film starts off well enough mostly mirroring the scene with Eren now held captive and accused of not being a human or trust worthy with is companions unable to help him. The scene deviates slightly when the execution order is given and its at that point that I started to get that sinking feeling. The story takes a complete left turn and in an attempt at trying to explain who and what the Titans are the movie then tries to mash together several events either described or hinted at in the Manga but with a modern day twist. Unfortunately the movie’s plot and direction descends into a chaotic mess with massive leaps of logic occurring amidst some truly bizarre and creepy scenes which do nothing but damage the pace and faithfulness of the original feature.
One scene in particularly baffling and serves no other purpose than to make the audience uncomfortable and confused. Basically Eren awakes after his “escape” from his own execution and finds himself in a while room with Mikasa’s Captain Shikishima (you’ll remember him as the creepy apple eating guy from movie 1). For the next 10 mins he proceeds to explain the origin of the Titans but does this all the time in what appears to be an attempt to seduce Eren right down to strange looks and severe invasion of personal space. I originally thought that it was perhaps just me thinking this until the entire audience let out an uncomfortable laugh. The film unfortunately continues with this random and very out of place imagery and Shikishima himself quickly graduates from over the top Anime bad guy to pantomime villain. It is equal parts baffling and disturbing but that is only a small part of the problem.
Half way through the running time we are treated to a huge monster on monster battle as Eren once again transforms into a Titan to battle the armoured Titan that has been appropriated for the movie. Unlike the first movie that was mostly shot in moonlight and featured only brief glimpses of Titan Eren murdering the other Titans, this one is shot during the day and it makes it very obvious just how low the budget was for the movie. Tiny cardboard buildings are smashed and crushed under two rubber suited men snarling and growling at each other whilst it frequently switches to “pilot view” to allow the controllers to exchange insults, at this point any good will that the first movie had built up has completely evaporated.
If I’m totally honest the special effects wouldn’t have been as much of a concern if the story at least held some weight and the direction was on point but sadly questionable choices have been made through out the entire feature and though a few plot changes or cheap effects would have been fine, the entire foundation this movie is based on is rotten from the ground up and the end credits assuming you make it that far will bring sweet relief.
To be fair there are a couple of things that have been well done and both of those are the females who are not Mikasa namely Sasha and Hange who both may as well have been torn from the very pages of the Manga itself. Both unfortunately do serve as the main comic relief for the movie but their importance in both keeping the team together and delivering the killing blows to several threats cant be ignored. Sasha continues to eat throughout the entire movie and Hange seems aroused by any talk of Titan dissection or the discovery of any new weapon she encounters which the last time I checked was completely in line with how they had originally been written. Its just a shame that the same care and attention was not lavished upon the three main characters who take up most of the air time.
In the end I don’t know if I am more disappointed or angry about the sudden change in quality both visually and in terms of story telling. If both movies had been released as one feature I doubt I would have even bothered to review it and now I find myself compelled to finish this in an effort to warn anyone off of watching either. The first movie features a cliff hanger that leads straight into this one and regardless of how much you enjoyed that, once you have sat through the second movie the entire thing will turn sour and you will struggle to remember what it was that the original did well in the first place.
No doubt both of my reviews will read as schizophrenic to anyone reading them as I found this series of movies myself. I actually cant find anything of merit to recommend about this feature and if I could have stopped myself from watching the first one now I would, the second movie is actually that bad that it self sabotages not only itself but the first movie too. My main worry now is the hint during the closing credits that there is a third part on the way, I really hope this is not the case. If you can, avoid this movie at all costs, if you are a fan of the anime, manga or even the original you would do well to save yourself the bitter disappointment you will feel once the credits begin to roll.