Review for Attack on Titan: The Movie - Part 2: End of the World
I didn’t have the best of times with the first Attack on Titan movie, which slipped from its tightrope walk of balancing the manga storyline with an original back-story, skewered by the crotch-damaging indignity of painfully bad acting. It was as if the actors had a challenge to see who could ham it up the most (winner, Hange). Seeing past the performances (and believe me that took effort), I found Part 1 to be hampered by slavishly adhering to the highlights of the manga’s opening arc, yet without the character development or world-building to justify that storyline. I opined that for the Attack on Titan live action movies to salvage something, Part 2 would have to go in a completely different direction, do its own thing. Now that the check disc is here, I get to see how much of a disaster, this disaster movie really is.
100 years previously, the Titans appeared; mindless, genderless giants whose sole instinct was to devour people. The human race was practically driven to extinction, the few survivors finding shelter in an enclave protected by three massive concentric walls. The outer ring the agricultural district, the inner ring the commercial district, the centre the domain of the elite, the government, and it was forbidden to all to tamper with the walls, to think of stepping outside of the boundaries. But a wall eventually begins to feel like a prison, especially for young Eren, who dreams of seeing the outside world. He even gets to the point of convincing his friends Armin and Mikasa to leave the walls, to find the mythical ocean. They get as far as the wall before they’re stopped by the authorities, but that coincides with the attack of a Titan larger than any ever seen, one that looms even taller than the outer wall. The wall is breached and the other Titans rush in, ready to feast. The farm district is inundated, the people massacred, the few survivors fleeing to the inner wall. The last Eren saw of Mikasa was her in the middle of the street, a Titan looming over her.
Two years later, Eren and Armin have signed up with the military, part of a scouting force given a last-ditch mission to retake the outer wall, and exterminate all the Titans. But none of the young soldiers are prepared for the Titan menace, while an unexpected face awaits Eren and Armin outside the safety of the inner wall. But no one knows the dark secret that Eren is keeping, not even Eren himself. Except at the end of the first movie, that secret was dramatically revealed. Now as Part 2 begins, Eren is on trial for his life, his crime, being a Titan!
Just like the first instalment Attack on Titan: Part 2 gets a 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p transfer, and given that it’s a digitally shot film, you can expect the Blu-ray to be pretty much flawless in presentation. Certainly the image is clear and sharp, with strong detail and consistent colours. There’s no sign of compression or digital banding, and all in all it’s a solid transfer. In terms of audio we get the choice between DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround and PCM 2.0 Stereo Japanese, with optional English subtitles. I went with the surround track and was seriously impressed with sound design, making full use of the sound-stage to convey ambience and effects, with the LFE busting a gut whenever a Titan was imminent. This is very much a film to watch with the sound turned up, and on as large a screen as possible, to get the best immersion into this world of giant man-eaters. It’s a great AV experience. However, Japanese film budgets being what they are, the overuse of CGI can tell at times, not in the Titans, which were mostly accomplished the old fashioned way, and then tweaked with digital effects, but in the realisation of the city and its environs. There are still no extras on disc.
This time around there were a couple of niggling issues, one being that off-screen dialogue may be audible, but it isn’t subtitled, most notable at around 38 minutes. The second problem is an AV glitch, 1:24:33 into the film, where the audio briefly drops out, the picture glitches and turns blue tinted for three seconds. Fortunately this is during the end credits.
The images in this review were kindly supplied by Animatsu.
Just like the Parasyte duology that Animatsu released prior to this, the Attack on Titan films are really just one film split in two, with Part 2 picking up where Part 1 left off. Unlike Parasyte though, Attack on Titan hardly deserves merit. These are not good films, yet I find myself curiously torn regarding Part 2. I’ll need to watch it again to see if it falls into the ‘so bad it’s good’ category, and the very fact that I’m actually considering re-watching it might give you the suspicion that there is something worthwhile to Attack on Titan Part 2 after all. But be aware that the few positive aspects to this film do not in any way make it a better movie.
Attack on Titan Part 2 does change things up in the way that I hoped, departing completely from the manga storyline, and aware that it only has 90 minutes in which to tell its story, it does its best to fill in the blanks for Eren’s character, and the way that this particular world came about. Manga storylines are all well and good, but they are designed in a way to keep selling manga, and wind up drip-feeding their plot revelations and story developments over tens of volumes. The Attack on Titan movie at least manages to satisfy in regards to the story, explaining how ‘our’ world became that post-apocalyptic horror. But given that Part 1 was distinctly absent all this, playing like a teen horror movie instead, Part 2 really does sell the exposition. There’s a lot of standing around talking about stuff, and not a lot in the way of momentum, tension or suspense. It even has its own version of the Architect’s lair in The Matrix Reloaded, a pristine white room where Eren gets an info-dump in the form of a movie reel, expositioning a whole lot of history.
There is action though, even if the hordes of rampaging Titans that were picking off victims left, right, and centre are on vacation for this movie. We have the ‘special’ Titans to deal with, and there are a decent number of confrontations here, as the giant humanoids try to beat each other to death, and destroy half the ruined city in the process. But as I said, the pace and the suspense to keep the viewer on the edge just isn’t there, and it really only feels like eye-candy visuals.
What kills the Attack on Titan Part 2 movie, even more so than the first, is the woeful acting. It is so painfully over the top, ridiculously hammed-up performances that it is impossible to take this film seriously. I got a sinking feeling whenever Satomi Ishihara appeared on screen; her portrayal of Hange is perhaps the most embarrassing thing ever committed to digital or celluloid. I recently watched Hiroki Hasegawa give a fantastic performance in Love & Peace, but here he would stink the room out as Shikishima, were it not for the overpowering stench of the other actors. I don’t normally get so personal, or critical in my reviews, but I really do have to wonder what the direction was for this movie. What did they have in mind with the actor performances? Were they deliberately trying to make some kind of parody? If so they missed out the all-important ingredient of a parody, humour.
Both this and the first film are poor Attack on Titan films. If you’re a fan of the manga and anime, are invested in that storyline, then you will be left disappointed, if not wholly downhearted. If you are looking for a summer blockbuster, the kind of movie that has very little brain to it, but has the kind of production values, effects, and star power to command box office receipts approaching nine figures, then this is definitely not that movie either. They make the best with what budget they have when it comes to effects and action, although the green-screen production values are a little too obvious. I’ve already mentioned what I think of the acting. But if you are in the mood for a little B-movie sci-fi then the Attack on Titan movies might suffice. We’re in Amazon Women on the Moon territory here. The absence of extra features isn’t much of a problem in a film this bad, but it could really do with an irreverent commentary track, a couple of people just ripping it to shreds and poking fun. That might be more entertaining than the actual movie itself.