Last night, I finally found time to sit down and review this long-anticipated Live Action adaptation of one of the biggest recent successes in the anime and manga industry. I did my best to see the movie with the most open open-mindedness I could mind (a.k.a. this is an AU, this is set after the war, the location is in Japan and not in Germany anymore, etc.), but I must confess that this film tested my limits.
As always, my review is spoilerific, extremely opinionated, and rarely coherent, so consider yourself warned.
Without further ado, here’s my review!
… an intense and uncontrolled desire. It is usually thought of as uncontrolled sexual wants.
After getting blown off by Mikasa, Eren ~naturally~ gets seduced by another woman.
Sex is part of human nature. I belong under the House of Sex is Not Solely for Procreation (TM), so I didn’t mind the inclusion of a small sex scene in the movie. That’s despite the fact that the original material barely acknowledged the existence of the Philippines’ national pastime.
If anything, the inclusion of sex scenes underscored the desperation and utter hopelessness of the situation– where all moral codes flew out of the window in exchange for a brief moment of savoring the blissful feeling of being alive.
But what gets me is how it followed the Hollywood horror movie trope of punishing “sluts” by brutal death. After a particular Michael Bay-stastic shot of the woman’s posterior, she gets helplessly dragged to her nightmarish death by a titan. Apparently, Eren had time to make loving eye contact with the said titan, but not enough to warn the woman or drag her to safety. Why? Because she needed to die.
… desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to (someone else).
First, let’s get this out of the way: Mikasa Ackerman is one of the biggest badasses (male, female, LGBTQ) in anime history. Just look at her sheer awesomeness!
I could see why the movie felt the need to nerf Movie Mikasa in order to make Eren look more “masculine”, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t call it a dick move. Because of their character envy, they ruined one of the best anime girls to date by reducing her to an ordinary love interest prize between two assholes. Gone were her tragic past, racial uniqueness, admirable single-minded devotion to Eren, and nearly everything that made her a compelling character.
(I realize this item number had way too many anatomical references, but this isn’t even enough to fully appease my disdain for Mikasa’s characterization murder in the movie. )
… inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger
Eren picking up fights with his best friend, Armin; a cannon, the guards, Jean, titans, Shikashima… basically, every 5 minutes of the 98+ minute-movie.
Jean Top Gun-ning Eren for a good dose of cackling homoerotic tension.
More character assassinations, this time via the incredible surplus of anger in the story. Anime Eren’s anger management issues is notorious, but Movie Eren’s reeks of unjustifiable shallowness.
Jean is reduced to an anger caricature as well, and he never showed growth as a leader. It’s like he merely exists to rile up Eren and create more action scenes without having to shoot more prosthetic giants.
Mikasa is also Angry in this film, but you’d have to wonder what else did she expect Eren to do when she could have rescued herself a dozen other different ways. For starters, she could have tried running in the general direction of “away from hungry titans”.
… an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves
No, they did not need to make two crappy movies when they could have made one less crappy film instead. They could have just stuck to covering the arc until the hole gets repaired and doing a second movie once more material was available, but NOOOOO! They had to ride the cash cow right here, right now.
Movie 2 is nothing but an equivalent of Xbox Live DLC: a robbery where you had to pay to get the complete ending of the original movie you paid for.
… a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority
The whole damn movie.
Did the folks behind this movie really think that special FX takes care of everything? It worked for Hollywood summer flicks because those films mostly had paper-thin plots to start with, but when you tackle works with incredible world-building and diverse characters such as SNK, know that your audience WILL see through the gimmicky visuals.
Want proof? Just check out the disparity of box office earnings between Movie 1 and Movie 2. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us!
The work should have been helmed by at least two masterminds: one for visual effects and the other for the story itself. Too bad people missed the opportunity to treat the material with as much respect as the folks behind Rurouni Kenshin Live Action movie did.
… a disinclination to action or labor
After the attack in his village, a shocked Eren stumbles around its debris-littered remnants. Then it’s time skip to two years.
- The training is but a classroom flashback, so important titan trivia are thrown randomly in various scenes instead of being systematically learned during training.
- “Characterization” is fleshed out during the directly copied introduction scene of the soldiers (Potato Girl is established as a potato loving girl and other deep and complex personas).
They also replaced the series’ most popular character with this douchebag. Because of orthographical considerations. Yeah, right.
Lazy writing is one of the worst offenses a movie can make. How can they expect the audience to feel invested in the 1+hr run of the movie if we do not follow the plot, or feel for the characters? By writing terribly trite, replaceable characters and dull dialogues, they lost their audience and cheated them of the escapism promise that fantasy movies like this are compelled to deliver.
Plus, if they couldn’t stay true to the Eren, Mikasa, and Armin we know, why bother using them anyway? Why couldn’t the writers have devised original new characters instead of stealing established characters and transforming them into OOC caricatures? I reckon fanfic writers (most of whom respect canon while maintaining creativity) could have written a better screenplay than this.
They thought we went to see the movie solely to watch humans get fed to titans. Alas, if we merely wanted to watch a terrifying display of ruthless, violent, and free-for-all consumption, then we should have just streamed Epic Meal Time on YouTube for free instead.
… an excessive indulgence
(Still) the whole damn movie.
Proving that it’s not just titans who are gluttons here, the team behind this movie proved the perils of biting off more than you could chew.
Too much attention was paid on making scary titans that spotlight shone on them rather than on mankind’s valiant struggle to survive and to be free. Exciting as our first titan carnage was, we slowly got bored of the repetitive feeding scene in the movie.
While the anime had equal (if not more) similar scenes, it was balanced out by showing characters thinking, interacting, working together, and changing in order to defeat the insurmountable odds. Whether it’s Armin and/or Erwin balancing their humanity with their desire to achieve military success, or Sasha electing to fight a titan without her 3D Maneuver gear, we never lose the feeling that they will never give up because something TOO important was at stake.
We also knew and empathized with the characters, which is why it hurt so much when Thomas got eaten right after Eren’s pumped-up pep talk with his classmates.
tl;dr: more work could have been done on polishing this movie, but the pressure of releasing this asap became its undoing in the end.
Right now, people are banking on Hollywood greats to remake the film. If ever they go for the idea, great! However, I hope they don’t end up repeating the failures of this movie.
Shingeki no Kyojin may be overrated for some folks, but we can’t deny that it’s one of the better animes lately. It’s high-quality action, mystery, humor, romance, and social justice all wrapped in one badass package of catchy German-Japanese OSTs, excellent animation, and good-looking bishies.