Sunday, January 22, 2017

Attack on Titan: Part 2

   It was probably wise of the marketing team to eventually drop the "End of the World" subtitle when bringing this sequel to home video, because frankly it really is just a part 2. It's a wrap-up to all the dangling plot threads that the first movie left hanging. It's a sequel by the strictest definition only considering that the first movie left on a big cliffhanger. Full disclosure, I loved the first one. It's imperfect, but a hell of a fun time. If you don't like fun, then go ahead and listen to all the rabid fan-hate and reviews that criticize everything from the actors' haircuts to the choice of the song that plays over the end credits. Me? I'll be over here with a fresh batch of popcorn and a big-ass grin on my face.

  There's a lot of movies out there that the general public isn't very familiar with, obviously. But one of them is a little gem called Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. It's ridiculous, melodramatic, and one of the goriest non-horror movies ever made. Period. I love that movie, and it's absurdly over-the-top blood and guts routine is rarely matched by any movie, but Attack on Titan in both parts almost gets there. I don't give a crap about whatever philosophical statement these movies were supposed to make, if any. I didn't give a crap about that stuff when I watched the anime either. I just fuckin' love the intensely exhilarating action set pieces and rampant creativity of both.

   So when Titan-Erin goes beast mode and starts laying in on the titans at the end of the first movie, I was just about ready to cheer. It perfectly marries the absurd goriness of Riki-Oh with the colossal throwdowns of a Godzilla movie. The climax of part 2 is similarly epic, and manages to show us some truly wild sights. And, that is one of the biggest reasons why I love these movies- warts and all. There's nothing else really like it out there in live action. That counts for a lot with me, personally. I love weird movies and violent movies, and movies that have things you can't see anywhere else. Wild, bizzare, and visually impressive. Attack on Titan part 1 and 2 are all those things and more.

   I appreciate a good story and good acting as much as the next cinephille, but to pretend like those things are the only things that make a movie compelling is retarded. I personally don't mind the story in these movies. The plot is a bit thinly stretched in part 1, and too densely packed in this exposition dump of a follow up, but as a single unit, they balance each other out. The acting is serviceable all the way around, especially so since the movie rarely requires more than one or two emotions from each character. But, honestly, I had such a blast with this. I got it by the end of part 2. This is just a big silly comic book brought to life.

   Whether or not that is an accurate tone to strike when adapting the anime and/or the manga, I don't know, and frankly... I don't care. I love the anime too, but for the same reasons I love the movie. It's so wild and different. Nevertheless, it's hard to not love seeing character actor Jun Kunimura as Kubal in full Tetsuo mode by the end of the movie- right down to the billowing tattered cape and melodramatic scowl. I love it. It's so comic book, so crazy, and even if it's uneven and dense, it's still such an engaging and ridiculously fun ride- both parts. Sure, there's a three minute recap of the previous movie in the beginning which is wholly unnecessary, and there's way too many damn flashbacks throughout in a movie that's already painfully short as is... but STILL. There's also way too much negativity about these movies out there, and most of it is coming from fans who have the wrong idea about adaptations.

   I could stand on this soapbox and beat my drum all damn day long. I love books, and comics, and video games, and all those things end up having countless cinematic adaptations. Most fans of the former, hate the latter. But why? Because usually it omits a character they liked, their favorite scene, or a line of dialog. GOD FORBID THAT YOUR FAVORITE 400 PAGE BOOK COULDN'T BE METICULOUSLY ADAPTED WORD FOR WORD! At this point, you have to ask yourself why bother with adaptations at all? Because they are a visual companion piece. You get to see the world and the aesthetics of this thing, brought to life with real people. That's worth something. That's engaging and engrossing.

   It's why I love Dune, the book and the David Lynch movie. Sure, the movie does a terrible job of staying true to the letter of the book but... does it even need to? It's the visuals of that movie that matter- and of any adaptation for that matter. Granted, there are outright bad adaptations. Movies that absolutely fail at being a decent movie on its own merits, and/or movies that egregiously misunderstand the point of the material it's adapting. (see: V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) but Attack on Titan suffers from neither malady. The movies are eye popping, thrilling, emotionally engaging, and a lot of fun.

   Closing thought: every blockbuster movie needs Satomi Ishihara reacting to the big effects sequences exactly like she does in this movie.

   Yes. This would make every movie 200% more fun. At least 200%. At least.

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