Sunday, January 22, 2017

Attack on Titan

Note: This review is for the live action movie, not the anime show.
   I find it hilarious how anime fans complain about what the 'west', (read: where they're from, here in the United States) does to their favorite animes by adapting them into live action movies, but the same fans complain when Japan does it too. Can't win for losing with these people. But, seriously, pay no attention to them and keep an open mind. A good movie is a good movie (Rurouni Kenshin) and a bad movie is a bad movie (Devilman). But, some fans are incapable of being objective, and that's why Attack on Titan has so many 1/10 scores on IMDb. Because if something isn't the most amazing thing ever, obviously it's the worst thing ever.

   I'm here to provide a less infantile review of the movie. It certainly isn't the worst movie ever, or even the worst anime adaptation. That particular achievement would probably go to DragonBall: Evolution and/or Devilman. Those movies fail on every possible level. Attack on Titan doesn't. In fact, quite the opposite, it succeeds on most counts. And, of course they were going to change some things. Settings, plot details, character motivation, and even omitting non-essential characters altogether. Infantile fans often list these changes as flaws or errors with the movie, but they couldn't be further from it. Attack on Titan streamlines the story from the anime and makes it work better for a movie.

   A movie is a different format and medium than an episodic show- and even more different if it's live action as opposed to animation. As such, this movie, does an admirable job of introducing us to the main characters and endearing them to us. The absolute best thing about this movie though, is how fearless it was in depicting the titans. Even the film's detractors usually admit this. The titans are terrifying and creepy, and most of all- NOT computer generated. Not even the colossal titan. Of course, certain CG elements are added and laid over certain practical effects, but the CG elements in the movie are surprisingly well done considering the budget of the movie. In fact, I found the CGI absolutely admirable.

   Nevertheless, the amount of old school effects in Attack on Titan make the movie feel like a classic monster flick. It feels like at any moment, Godzilla could show up and go to toe with these titans. I love that about this movie. Overall, is it a beat for beat perfect adaptation? No. Is it a perfectly serviceable monster movie with inventive action scenes? Yes. Hell yes even. The action scenes are kinetic and full of bombastic energy as well as buckets upon buckets of gore. This movie could've been cut off at the knees, and sanitized for a wider audience, but if anything the live action medium afforded the makers the chance to ground the horrors and action of the property in reality and make it even scarier. In my opinion... they succeeded.

   When the colossal titan breaks the wall, and the titans lay siege to the city... it's absolutely harrowing and downright disturbing. Extremely minimal use of CG in this sequence meant that all elements had scale and weight to them. Rarely is the immersion broken. The titans look scarily realistic. The approach of using real people as opposed to a more overt 'effect' really helped the movie. So when one of them picks a human up and rips them apart in it's mouth, it's disgusting. I loved it. The movie is a bit melodramatic, but who could honestly say that the anime wasn't? Gimme a break. Absolutely everything about this movie is over the top.

   I am a fan of the anime, and I'm dying of anticipation for season 2, but I genuinely enjoyed this movie nonetheless. Sure, some peripheral characters are gone, and others have been fundamentally changed, but again, I feel it works better on the big screen in a more time-limited format. The highlights of the anime were faithfully translated into the highlights of this live action movie. I found the movie occasionally uneven with it's pacing, some character drama borders on overkill, and certain scenes drag a bit too much, but all is made good by the wealth of gore, action, and straight-up horror elements and set pieces that are peppered throughout the movie.

   Approach it with an open mind, and I'm sure you'll like it. Educate yourself on the adaptation process and educate yourself about the special and visual effects. I refuse to be a fan who is always prepared to dislike something if it doesn't fit their absurdly strict criteria for existing. Fuck those fans. Attack on Titan is a blast. This is my second time watching it, and from the scary titan siege, to the absolutely epic climax, I loved this imperfect little flick.

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