Hajime Isayama has built himself an empire with his Attack on Titan manga. A highly acclaimed anime with a second season on the way, two animated movies which recap the anime’s first season and two live action movies, the first of which is currently airing in Japan and slated to air here in America in late September to early October.
The movie has been met with heavy criticism from fans of the series so I wanted to see it for myself to try and understand their frustration. I went into this movie with an open mind and with the knowledge that this is an original story by Isayama and not a direct adaptation of his manga. When I came out of the other side of this film…
I wasn’t disappointed.
I know that might be shocking to the Attack on Titan haters out there, but it’s true. I didn’t hate this movie. Sure, it wasn’t an amazing movie that’s going to win any awards, but it’s far from the grotesque abortion of cinema that people are making this film out to be.
So with that being said, let’s get into it.
The overall story of Attack on Titan is, by far, the same as it was in the manga/anime. Humans are living isolated within the walls of the city and one day, the Colossal Titan shows up and kicks a hole through that wall.
Titans invade the city and start eating people. Humanity decides to fight back against the titans.
They did take a bunch of left turns throughout the story, but they still arrived at the same point that people remember in the anime. Without spoiling too much… Eren still gets eaten, still “Titanizes,” and goes nuts. The way he gets eaten is exactly the same as it was in the anime… on one leg trying to save Armin.
I assume people are upset that Levi was missing from this film and that a new character Shikishima was introduced instead. Shikishima wasn’t a bad character, though. He was cocky, arrogant, but highly skilled. A slight detraction from the cold, callous Levi, but he was still pretty cool to see. Mikasa’s story got jumbled up from the anime, but it added more mystery to her character.
Some of the character’s background stories got changed and Eren’s “trigger” for fighting the titans changed as well. We never got to see Eren train nor did Shadis ever make an appearance. They were trying to squeeze 14 episodes of anime into a 90 minute film while trying to tell a different story. By no means is that an easy feat and I actually think this film pulled it off well.
The way the story was presented, it can appeal to both manga faithful and people who have never seen the series. There isn’t a lot you need to understand about the Attack on Titan world to get this film. It explains things really well and gives people the necessary information to understand the premise of the series. When you take this film’s story at face value, it’s not all that bad.
Eren – Eren was played a little bit differently here. He still had his “will to fight” mentality as well as his curiosity about the outside world from the anime, but for most of the movie, he seemed pretty useless as a main character. Maybe it’s because we saw him “grow up” in the anime, go through the training, and then grow as a member of the Survey Corps and in the film, we barely saw any of that. Instead, we were treated to an Eren who ran around and tried to protect Sasha more than anything, but at least Eren became a titan in the end and they didn’t change that up one bit.
It’s not a Megazord. It’s Eren in titan form and it looks glorious!
Mikasa – Mikasa was also portrayed differently at first. She was a happy and outgoing girl in the beginning of the film whereas in the anime she was emotionless and downright fearful. It wasn’t until her big story deviation that she became the way she was in the anime. So they took a different route to get there, but Mikasa still ended up much like her anime counterpart.. a BAMF. I actually enjoyed the Mikasa character in this movie… seems that she went through a much different ordeal in order to become the way she was.
Armin – I’m going to be honest here… I’m used to Armin being blond. At times, I didn’t know if it was Armin or Eren on screen. Is that bad? Well.. since I wasn’t completely sure half of the time, I can say that in the end, Armin was about to get eaten and Eren did save him. The fact that I can’t really remember much about Armin, despite the fact that I finished watching the movie a mere moment ago says a lot.
Jean – Jean was played perfectly here. His character was that stuck up spoiled kid who thinks he’s better than everyone else. He picks fights with Eren throughout the movie and, in the end, is kind of useless… just like in the anime. Not much has changed with Jean and I loved how his character was portrayed.
Hanji – Preofessor Hanji was also played perfectly as well (although she was referred to as Hans in the movie!?). The crazy, nutty scientist in her shone through here. How she was more interested in experimenting on the titans than fighting them is exactly what Hanji was all about. They picked a great actress that even looked identical to her anime counterpart. Hanji is one of those characters you can sit back and shake your head at while still finding her enjoyable
Sasha – Oh my dear sweet Sasha Blouse. She was my waifu in the anime and she was just as cute here. They really drove home the whole “potato girl” aspect behind her and the fact that she’s a glutton. Her story takes a HUGE twist in this movie, but I won’t spoil it here. I applaud them for being brave to make a, normally, secondary character shine like a main character, though. It was definitely a risk, but I think it paid off in the end, although some people might be pretty upset with her story. To each their own I suppose. I enjoyed it, though.
Shikishima – The new guy! As I said up in the story portion, he’s cocky, arrogant, and he can kill some titans. In fact, we don’t see any titans get killed until he shows up in the movie. It kind of degrades the entire Survey Corps when they can’t even fight back. I didn’t really like that aspect of the movie and how they made Shikishima THE guy to initiate the action. If anything, this character was more of a crutch for the movie to lean on. I understand it’s a new character, but it was like they were banking on him to make or break this film. The character itself delivered when he was introduced, but as soon as Eren Titanized, Shikishima became nothing more than an afterthought. I think they would have been better off just casting him as Levi.
The movie had some hit and miss points to it. As aforementioned, I liked the story and the deviations they did from the original source material. It made for an interesting film and it gave Attack on Titan fans something different to digest than just seeing the same stuff rehashed over and over again.
One of the big misses here in this film was the CGI. The titans looked okay for the most part, but overall, they looked pretty generic. In the anime, they really stood out, but some of the titans here just looked like ordinary people. It’s like they chose to stylize some of them and then just digitize a bunch of fat people and stick them in the movie as titan extras. Also, when the titans were going around and grabbing people, the distinction between CG and reality wasn’t really done well. Some of the superimposed CG was terrible and looked REALLY out of place.
The fight scenes also looks weird as well. The 3D Maneuver Gear was obviously CG against CG backgrounds and it just looked odd. The camera angles used when cutting through the titans’ necks, though. Those were done pretty well and the blood effects were okay, but you could definitely tell them apart from when they used “real” blood.
Solid story, pretty bad CG, but still, it’s Attack on Titan. The movie was pretty enjoyable for me, but I’m not going to go out of my way and say it was a favorite or something I would watch again, though. It’s one of those movies where seeing it once is enough.
Decent, but once is enough for me
Pretty decent, but it’s one of those movies where you watch it once and then you’re done with it.