Evangelion 3.33 – You Can (Not) Redo (Cert 15)
1 Disc DVD/Blu-ray (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 97 minutes approx.
It’s been a bit of a wait for this film for UK fans – four year after its predecessor Evangelion 2.22 hit these shores. There are a myriad of reasons for the delay – licensing issues, the English dub being rerecorded – but let joy be unconfined, EVA 3.33 is finally here!
EVA 2.22 ended with Shinji Ikari in the EVA 01 Unit trying to save Rei Ayanami from an Angel attack with the potential fallout being the beginning of the dreaded Third Impact. This film opens with the brash Asuka Langley Shikinami and the reckless Mari Illustrious Makinami engaged in a space battle while on a mission to retrieve a container which contains the wreckage of the EVA 01 unit and a comatose Shinji.
Mission accomplished Shinji awakens in what he thinks is NERV HQ but is in fact is a giant space-battleship manned by the renegade group WILLE (yes it is pronounced as it reads) made up of former NERV staff led by Misato Katsuragi and Ritsuko Akagi. A confused Shinji learns that he has been in stasis for fourteen years and his actions caused the Third Impact. WILLE’s objective is to destroy NERV and the EVAs to prevent the Fourth Impact from happening.
The first shock for returning EVA fans will be the drastic change in direction from the plot we all know from the TV series with this deus ex machina time leap which completely ignores many of the key storylines and developments for a completely new storyline. Quite what creator Hideaki Anno was thinking when he made this decision is anyone’s guess but if the well documented history of his handling with this show is any indication, this is par for the course.
It is worth noting that practically none of the footage featured in the teaser at the end of EVA 2.22 appears in this film, suggesting either this was a late change of plan or Anno was just messing with us. Whatever the reason, this is what we are left to deal with and this is the part which is likely to divide fan opinion of this film.
Arguably the most egregious test of the audience’s faith is the lack of robust explanation for this change in timeline with little in the way of exposition to fill in the gaps. It is almost half an hour before we learn of the fourteen-year leap and the events which saw the formation of WILLE eventually gets a brief retelling in the final act. The viewer and Shinji are permitted to be baffled as Asuka and Mari haven’t changed at all – an apparent “curse of EVA” – yet the adults have.
Misato’s new serious and frosty attitude a real turnaround from her previous capricious and ditzy persona which also shocks Shinji as she refuses to engage with him. Still confused Shinji is abducted by an EVA piloted by Rei, whom Shinji had been told was dead, and taken to the remains of NERV HQ where Shinji’s father Gendo – with new visor like shades – remains as distant as ever. There Shinji meets fellow EVA pilot Kaworu Nagisa, who takes him under his wing.
You might recall Kaworu making a few fleeting appearances in EVA 2.22, his overdue debut and greater presence in this film a small sign of continuity from the original story, although Kaworu only appeared in the last two episodes of the TV series. But in keeping with the lack of explanations, little is known about him, leaving him to be an enigmatic yet ambiguous addition to the cast.
For fans of the established characters, most notably the returning ladies, they too are subject to poor character development with gaps in their stories being assumed rather than explored, especially where Rei is concerned. Asuka now sports an eye patch after the events of the second film yet is still an arrogant ball of rage, her tsundere treatment towards Shinji is now full-blown hatred.
Mari, a new character for these films, remains as much a mystery as she did upon her debut, so don’t expect to learn anything about her this time around. She simply pilots her EVA-esque craft with abandon, willingly obeying Asuka and accepting her nickname of “four-eyed crony” without protest. And Shinji is the same weak willed milquetoast angsty dip he was before, relying too much on others and not manning up.
With the story being a malaise of confusion thanks to the presumptuous nature of the narrative and the ongoing exploration of Shinji’s continual descent into a mental breakdown, it befalls to the film’s presentation to offer something for the audience to remain invested, and on that front there is a treat awaiting you .
Immediately noticeable is the complete shift towards CGI animation, possibly commensurate to the change in time frame, leaving behind the warmth and familiarity of the TV series cell drawn style of the first two films. The result is something vibrant and slick but also rather clinical, although the benefits reveal themselves during the battle scenes which top and tail this film.
Anno has embraced the 3D aspect of CGI animation as evident the introduction – and subsequent abundance – of the swooping crane shot and 360-degree rotation shot. A surreal mind trip Shinji experiences employs this and other ostentatious optical effects which fills the screen with colour but sadly not much depth, depriving them of their intended nightmarish quality.
It’s actually quite difficult to dismiss Evangelion 3.33 as a bad film because it isn’t but at the same time it doesn’t successfully follow up its predecessors, providing more questions than answers. It sits in an odd niche of being an Evangelion film while not fully convincing us it belongs in the Evangelion canon at this stage.
Had the changes been as part of a sequel it would have been easier to accept but as the third chapter of four, EVA 3.33 takes a huge risk vis-à-vis the fans’ loyalty.
English Language Dolby TrueHD: 5.1
Japanese Language Dolby TrueHD: 5.1
Teaser TV Spot
Rebuild of EVANGELION 3.33
Limited Edition Slip Cover
Rating – ***
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