Sunday, August 2, 2015

Movie Review: Attack on Titan (Part 1)

Fans of the series, rejoice! August 1 marked the opening of the live movie adaptation of the popular manga/anime series "Attack on Titan." And despite the unconvincing trailer, as a fan of the series, I just had to watch it!

And I did. I got myself a seat on the first showing time on the first day. The theater was packed! After several advertisements of funny and interesting satires about the life of Japanese salary men, the curtains opened to what would possibly be the longest, most butt-hurting two hours of my life.

Here I will write down my thoughts about the movie because I feel that if I don't write them down I might explode. (Warning: May contain spoilers!)

1. Changing the setting from a peaceful village in the "outskirts" to a slum reduced the overall impact of the first titan appearance.
  • When I read/watched the manga/anime, the most hair-raising part was, without a doubt, when the colossal titan first appeared over the outermost wall, disrupting, completely obliterating the peaceful town inside it. The thought of having the place I call home, the village I grew up in overrun by hungry giants on a human-only diet really terrified me more than I could possibly put into words. I thought that that "turning point" in the characters' daily lives was something most of us can empathize with. If you just try imagining losing the comfortable life you're living now... Anyway, in the movie, Eren's town was already in ruins and even after the titans swept the place, the change wasn't as radical and did not have that same hair-raising sensation from the manga/anime.
2. There was too much adult romance.
  • There was a particular R-18 scene in the movie where my mouth literally dropped open. But really, for the most part, I felt that romance and jealousy (not hatred and revenge) were the stronger driving force for the characters. An Armin-Sasha pairing was even hinted at. As the movie progressed, I understood less and less the characters' reasons for fighting and I started to wonder whether the titans were even necessary at all.
3. The titans looked too human.
  • I knew they recruited real people to become models for the titans but, they looked too human... Too Japanese. All I could see were Japanese people eating other Japanese people. I really wonder how the people who volunteered to lend their faces to the titans felt when they saw themselves in titan form (in other words, naked ^ ^) and chomping on humans as if they were eating celery.
4. Air maneuvers weren't smooth enough.
  • This is where the huge gap between Hollywood special effects and non-Hollywood ones became blatantly obvious. Scenes where the characters were fighting on the ground were okay, but once they swung into the air with their supposedly awesome 3D maneuver gear, things got ugly. The movie creators should have consulted with the creators of Spiderman for the air maneuver scenes, especially when turning building corners. Honestly, the titan-slaying, blood-spurting scenes were also too fake to be actually considered gory.
5. Emotion was lacking.
  • The manga/anime came to life because of the characters' fear, anger, hatred, and desperation. Dark as they may be, they are in fact core emotions that make us human. These emotions clenched my heart, but during the movie, I was clenching not because I was moved by their emotions, but because my butt was hurting from sitting for a long time.
6. Mikasa.
  • Yes. Mikasa deserves her very own spot on my list. She was introduced as a rather fragile girl - I dare say, a stereotypical Japanese girl - who did not have any goals in life. When their slum-of-a-village got overrun by titans, she got separated from Eren and came inches close to being eaten. But miraculously, someone saved her. Two years later, she and Eren were reunited as soldiers but by then her character had already done a complete 360! I don't understand, for the life of me, why she had this cold attitude towards Eren when they met again. And boy! She is a killing machine - a tigress! - on the battlefield, but turns into a helpless kitten in front of their sadist, playboy commander who, as was being suggested in the movie, saved her when Eren left her out in the open - in the town infested with hungry giants - to run inside a building and save his own butt. (Okay, so maybe that part about Eren saving his own butt wasn't true... But if you think about it like that, then it would actually explain Mikasa's icy attitude)
Obviously, I have a lot of complaints about the movie. But, two things that I really did like are Ishihara Satomi's portrayal of Hans and Eren's titan form. Ishihara Satomi nailed Hans's character and I believe her versatility as an actress really shone in this movie. Eren's - or should I say, Miura Haruma's - titan form was unexpectedly well-done. It looked very similar to the original, while still bearing an uncanny resemblance to Miura. Or was it the other way around?Haha.

That ends my rant review about the first movie of the franchise. It pales in comparison to the manga/anime, but I still look forward to the second installment in September. I am curious as to how they are going to develop the story from here on out since they have deviated so much from the original story line. 

I think it was worth going to the theaters for on a hot, humid day, if not to watch but even just to cool off.

Finally, if you'll pardon me for blowing my own horn but, I watched the movie WITHOUT English subtitles! I watch a lot of Japanese shows, movies, etc., but I haven't really thought much about this since it became as natural as watching an English show. I'm so proud of myself! Hahaha.

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  1. #3 Did you see the Filipino lookalikes of the titans? Hehe so funny!

  2. Anyway, tonight is the premiere for Attack on Titan 2 here in Singapore! :)

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