Attack On Titan: The Movie Part 2: End of the World (Cert 15)
1 Disc (Distributor: Animatsu Entertainment) Running Time: 87 minutes approx.
It’s time to complete the live action adaptation of THE anime/manga sensation of the past five years, and after the rather patchy first film which took a lot of liberties with the story, this concluding part has a lot of goodwill to restore among the fans.
After a 5 minute recap of the previous outing, part two opens with a straitjacket bound Eren Jaeger (Haruma Miura) being interrogated by their head officer Kabul (Jun Kunimura) because of his newfound ability to turn into a Titan. As Kabul is about to give the order of execution, another Colossal Titan breaks into the hideaway and escapes with Eren.
Eren awakens to find he has been rescued by Captain Shikishima (Hiroki Hasegawa), and his army of surviving soldiers. Shikishima plans to collect the unexploded bomb Eren found in the first film, and use it to blow up one of the inner walls to trap the Titans inside them allowing the humans to finally escape to the outside world. Eren, and the others, with whom they later meet up, strongly oppose this idea.
Question for you fans of the anime and manga – does any of this sounds familiar to you? No? That’s because this is story concocted purely for this film by screenwriters Yūsuke Watanabe and Tomohiro Machiyama, which is a result of either not enough faith in the original story being adapted for the live action medium or maybe too much story to condense so they went for a quicker option.
It’s bad enough that the story was tampered with in the first film but this time around they don’t just deviate from Hajime Isayama’s original, they effectively desecrate it by replacing it with something utterly baffling, counterproductive and unoriginal. Because of the inherent problems with translating animated or written word to a live action film we expect some changes but I don’t recall any being as egregious as this.
To elucidate further means to ruin the big plot twist reveal which not only make no sense, altering the entire complexity of the story as we know it. What it does do is explain the presence of the modern unexploded bomb and the other post-steampunk weaponry and vehicles but this of little comfort within the context of the Attack On Titan we all know and love.
So, this earth shattering revelation comes during a surreal scene in which Eren wakes up in a white, empty, art deco style room with a jukebox playing the Skeeter Davis classic End Of the World. As the song ends, Shikishima – a non-canon character – appears with a bottle of champagne, and proceeds to show a film of the big secret on the ceiling, while the room is now full of sand with two lounge chairs having suddenly appeared.
No, I haven’t made any of this up and I had to replay the disc to check I didn’t imagine it either. But it is there and we have to live with it. I honesty wouldn’t blame you for switching the film off at this point but stick around and we do return to a more recognisable AOT straight after this, although in aesthetic only.
And that is the film’s strongest point along with the occasional impressive rendering of the eponymous Titans which appear to be a mixture of CGI and good old-fashioned men in rubber suits. This should at least please the Kaiju film fans when the Eren’s Titan and the other Colossal Titan square off for a fun throwback clash of the…er…titans. Sadly this stands is a rare highlight in this otherwise confused film.
Because of this change of direction the characters are completely removed from the ones we know from the anime, now faced with different motives for fighting the Titans. Eren turns into a heroic badass who dives headlong into each scrape, Armin (Kanata Hongô) also finally grows a set while Mikasa (Kiko Mizuhara) pouts a lot and looks lost. Only Hans (Satomi Ishihara) remains unchanged and by default is the most entertaining person here.
The effects by schlock horror master Yoshihiro (Tokyo Gore Police) Nishimura flits between the eye catching and the poorly composited. The Titans look good and much of the surrounding sizzle is flashy enough but the flaws in the green screen work are evident. At least the cast give themselves 100% to their roles and do their best to make the audience believe in them.
It has been reported that Tetsuya Nakashima was originally in the director’s chair until “creative differences” got in the way. Let’s think about that for a moment – the man who gave us Confessions, Memories Of Matsuko and The World Of Kanako helming AOT? Instead former Gamera SFX director Shinji Higuchi took over, the man directing the new Japanese Godzilla reboot. Suddenly I’m not so excited anymore…
Elsewhere we need to look at both films’ run times as an indicator of how committed Higuchi was to staying faithful to the source material. The first film was 99 minutes long while this one is 87 minutes – except the opening recap and the credits rolling at 81 minutes means we actually get a 76-minute film, with a post-credit coda. Hardly worth splitting into two films.
Again, the biggest problem is not so much that this is a bad film per se just a half heated attempt to adapt the story AOT fans know and love, and by creating an entirely new story that doesn’t make a lick of sense and goes against everything the saga is about, serves only to alienate the target audience. Is it therefore any surprise that this film did half the box office in Japan of its predecessor?
People discovering Attack On Titan with these films and no prior knowledge of the anime or manga will be more forgiving towards them, while the established AOT fans will see these adaptations as an affront to their beloved franchise.
A bona fide missed opportunity
Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black