With the live-action Attack on Titan Part 1 hitting local cinemas, Team Anime Inferno have hit their participating local cinemas to check it out!
As most of you know Attack on Titan is a massively successful and popular manga and anime series – the series delving into the world of live-action – well frankly it made me a bit nervous. Was it going to be overwhelmed by bad CG? How were they going to tackle characters zooming around with their Dimensional Maneuver Gear chopping up necks of Titans? But thankfully in the end I was impressed – I took the film for what it was at face value and for an anime live-action this really has taken the genre to leaps and bounds. I found the start of the film a little bit off kilter as it strays a bit from the source material – it takes place in our future world, with relics lying about such as old war planes and weaponry scattered across a country side – bound by the gigantic walls. Eren and Mikasa are also portrayed a little differently – in the manga/anime they are very much aware of the Titan’s and Eren in particular has dreams of wanting to take back the outside world and sick of people plodding along with their lives in the securities of the wall. At the start of this movie Mikasa is portrayed as a ditsy Japanese girl who can’t do much for herself and Eren is naive and doesn’t believe that Titan’s exist – That it’s a tale dreamed up to keep the people at bay. But soon after the movie starts to take form – the Colossal Titan appears and true display of horror begins. From here the story becomes a lot more in-line with the anime/manga.
The CG I thought was fantastic – rather that doing full CGI titans – which I think would of looked awful – they used a hybrid of actors in makeup with CGI – which gave them an extra dimension. At the start I had a few chuckles at the actors with big grins lurking forward seeking human flesh, but as the movie went on they evolved and became pretty damn creepy – the fantastic gore, visual effects and limbs falling out the sky definitely helped. One of my biggest gripes with the movie was the score – I can’t put my finger on what it was, I just remember watching it and thinking – how the hell does this fit? Maybe it was a bit too uplifting at times for such a dark, dense movie. The song when the credits rolled was way too J-Pop – they should of kept it dark and brooding.
But besides these small little niggles – I thoroughly enjoyed the film! I loved that it didn’t stray to far from the source material – just in order to make the adaption work, the CG worked and was a different portrayal of a horror movie. I’m looking forward to Part 2 in October and can’t wait to see Eren kick some major Titan arse! If you haven’t seen Attack on Titan before, make sure you go in with an open mind and strong stomach – I’m sure you’ll enjoy if you love horror themed movies.
So unlike the others I went into Attack on Titan Part 1 as a complete noob. I had heard amazing things about the anime and manga, but never managed to checked them out. I generally get cranky when something has been adapted from one medium to another if it doesn’t do the source material justice, so this seemed the sensible approach in prep for this one.
The start of the movie felt like it was ticking boxes rather than trying something interesting – angsty boy, nerdy and nice boy, whimsical girl with a crush on angsty boy, repressive dictatorship with walls and mysteries. Their world then gets interesting as stuff explodes and creepy giants crank out a rampage – the scenes were bloody and suitably disturbing. I was definitely intrigued.
The movie’s next arc was all about driving the post-apocalyptic fervour and showing the two male leads joining the military engine and going out hunting Titans. Again, more characters join in, action follows, we find out the Titans have an all-important weak spot and the movie finishes up with a very Evangelion-inspired conclusion.
I went into the movie expecting an action flick and that’s ultimately what we got. The use of special effects were pretty good considering the high bar set by recent comic adaptations from Hollywood, and while the characters were not terribly original the acting was serviceable and did the job. Where I thought it excelled was when it focused on the offbeat and weird, as I think this is where Japanese cinema can provide a welcome relief from from Western productions. Understandably they’ve stripped out character development to focus on the action/adventure ride, but that’s fine – it adds enough disturbing imagery to give it a unique voice in the action spectacle and I’m looking forward to checking out the conclusion in a few months.
Directed by Shinji Higuchi, I went into Attack on Titan Part 1 at least knowing that since this was helmed by a guy with significant ‘tokosatsu’ experience (including the 90’s Gamera trilogy) under his belt if nothing else the film would deliver on the action and the Titans. Employing a mix of miniatures, CGI and other practical effects, the always creepy Titans are terrifyingly and spectacularly brought to life as well as they possibly could’ve been, especially keeping in mind that this would’ve had a drastically lower budget than the usual Hollywood action fare. The horrifying Colossal Titan in particular is incredibly realised.
Story-wise, we get a quick rundown of the scenario – Titans appeared, decimated human civilisation and now humanity exists within a series of three giant concentric walls. 100 peaceful years later the Titans have become little more than a myth, and we’re introduced to our three main characters – angsty Eren, timid Armin and the quiet Mikasa. After the appearance of the Colossal Titan and the first incredibly violent and bloody Titan attack in a century, humanity abandons the outer wall along with the farmlands within and retreats to the inner two. Cut to two years later and Eren and Armin are enlisted in the military and about to set off on an ill-fated mission to recover humanity’s remaining reserve of explosives in order close the hole in the outermost wall and reclaim their lost land.
Significant departures have been made from the manga/anime to get this to work in its condensed form, and as a result most characters and motivations are somewhat different. As with anything adapted from one medium to another, if you can take this adaptation in with fresh eyes you’ll definitely have a better time with it. Eren’s motivations are never made particularly clear, and Armin is just kinda along for the ride. Mikasa’s story has by far had the largest change of the main three, though she still goes on to become an ass-kicking, neck-slicing machine under other circumstances. Sasha still loves potatoes, and Hanji, while now named Hans, is otherwise still the same but for the most part the other members of the Survey Corp are best treated as anonymous Titan-fodder. One notable omission is fan favorite Levi, who has been effectively replaced with the extraordinarily molesty (seriously, he is SO goddamn creepy) new character in Survey Corp leader/cryptic-inspiration-provider Shikishima. I’m not sure why they ditched Levi for this guy – maybe it’ll become clear in Part 2.
In typical Japanese fashion the acting is a bit hammy and exaggerated, but the action and effects are fantastic. The use of the maneuver gear against the Titans is pulled off well. The unsettling amount of blood and gore and the amount of destruction that takes place at the hands of the Titans is grand in its scale. The final fight scene goes full rubber-suit-Kaiju-movie as Titan Eren goes apeshit, unsurprising given the director’s past work and the fact this is a Toho film. I loved that, but mileage will vary. I went into this not expecting much and left having enjoyed a decent action/horror flick, so I’m keen for Part 2 and will certainly be checking that out on the big screen too.
Since that strange little Subaru ad popped up on Youtube, fans have been eagerly waiting for this live action adaption to hit our screens, and with such high expectations it is surprising at just how disappointing this was. As a standalone movie without any prior knowledge of the storyline and characters, it wasn’t too bad as a horror/survival movie. We were also lucky enough to have a cosplayer in the cinema! Woo!!
I will be looking at this review from a fans perspective (and will try to keep it brief). And to say the least, there were a couple of key points from the original story that I felt were incredibly important, and some could have easily been incorporated. Others needed to be changed, which bought on a lack of cultural diversity in the actors. In the manga, Mikasa is really the only person of Asian descent with everyone else being somewhat European. I can understand why they changed this though, it’s hard to find a bunch of Japanese speaking foreign actors who vaguely resemble the characters. This is also why I think they changed the names of the walls/areas.
I also don’t recall hearing Eren/Mikasa/Armin say their full names either, and without Eren’s mother’s famous demise his drive and core hatred for the Titans has somewhat been weakened due to the direction the new storyline has taken. And it is pretty different from the original story.
The biggest upset I think (for fangirls in particular), was the introduction of Shikishima, who seems to be the replacement for Levi. He had none of the traits that makes Levi such a great character, and has a very strange relationship with Mikasa… remember the “eat my apple” scene? Yah. Goin home to scrub my eyes clean of this weird creepy pedo. There was also no real purpose for his introduction seemingly other than to irritate Eren and get between him and Mikasa.
There are a few more points about the story and CG animation but I won’t cover them here, the fans know what they are, and yes they infuriated me too (Titan Eren fight = man in suit? Lack of horses, etc).
The Titans!! These guys were terrifying! Specially the first few gory scenes they really set the benchmark for what these poor people have to conquer. They also nailed Zoe Hange (totally forget movie name) with the hair, goggles and personality it was spot on. We almost cheered when she/he (yeah there’s some debate there) came stomping into the scene. Potato Girl (Sasha) was the comic relief and it was well executed to break up some of the more tense or slow scenes. Most of the other characters were barely recognisable, but played their part in running and screaming or dying. And surprisingly, Eren’s first Titan transformation sequence and saving Armin followed the manga really closely. At least they got that right.
There were elements that were really well done throughout the movie, and others that were incredibly frustrating and rage inducing, and hardcore fans will be fuming over this.
Perhaps I have been a bit harsh (or not harsh enough?), so hopefully they will clear a few things up or at least round off the story to a polished finale for the next film.
Time to play the waiting game.
I had watched the anime and read a substantial bulk of the manga, and while it wasn’t in my top five, it was still enjoyable. So when the ad for Attack on Titan Part 1 came out and was shown to be a live-action adaption, I was understandably on the fence.
The gratuitous levels of blood and gore reminded me of a zombie film with the grandiose scale of a disaster film, and with a mix of CGI and miniatures, the equally upscale Titans did their job creepily well. The Colossal Titan stood out among the rest for not only being the big bastard that kicks off the horror show in the first place (quite literally), but one of the best looking and detailed too. In fact, I felt that the Titans had the best performances in the film, and that says something about the humans. The acting felt somewhat wooden and borderline corny, but the needless bickering did spark some nicely choreographed brawls. Even more annoying; despite the proximity to danger, the recruits act as if they were in a Japanese high school movie, where their clashing egos and raging hormones would be better suited than the post-apocalyptic landscape they are in. The romantic stuff fell flat and felt like it was shoehorned on, as if it had been an afterthought to the script and was hastily improvised during filming.
Speaking of romance, that brings me to Shikishima… the eccentric and somewhat creepy character who is stated to be “The Strongest Man”. This clashes directly with Levi’s title of “Humanity’s Strongest Soldier” and it is implied that he is the replacement for him. Ditching Levi, who is perhaps the most popular character in Attack on Titan, was a ballsy choice. Whether a good idea or not, it showed the filmmakers were ready to take risks. It was a dumb risk. Shikishima seems to be the romantic wedge between Mikasa and Eren, likely only there as the film deviates once again from the original plot and alters the back story of the two protagonists, and therefore needing a new source of conflict. Seeing that we are touching on the subject of deviation from the manga/anime, there are discrepancies throughout the film, some minor, some major. However, I was happy that Sasha remained the potato-loving comedic relief she was. And while the gag was somewhat mistimed with the brooding atmosphere at the time, I still had a chuckle or two, mostly at her expense.
Overall, I did not have very high hopes for the film; Live action adaptions of anime have let me down before (not going to name names). So I will say for all the holes I’ve picked, it was still better than I expected. For those who haven’t seen the anime/manga, it is a decent film to watch, but those clued up on the Attack on Titan storyline might say otherwise. As for what the continuation holds, I’d eat my own shoe if the bomb shown at the start of the film does not become detrimental to the plot (it stood out and I assume there will be a reason). I will be waiting for the next Attack on Titan film with anticipation; there is still the potential to make a great movie, let’s hope they make up for this one.
Tickets were provided by Madman Entertainment to the authors for the purpose of this review.