I’ll be honest, when I first started watching the Attack on Titan anime last year to see what it was all about, I was hooked. But sadly about halfway through, it started falling off and became story arc filler episodes to stretch things out for 2016’s second season and the ongoing manga. Regardless, when I learned that some live-action movies were going to be made, I was excited to see them. Thanks to Funimation, I was able to see not only the first film that was released back in July, but also the second one that was just released this week in theaters. After seeing Attack On Titan: Part One and Two, I can say director Shinji Higuchi made them come together to make one of the most frightening and dazzling Japanese movies I’ve seen, but fans of the anime/manga may not like the severe liberties that were taken in the process.
The story takes place in a world that seems like it’s far in the past or in some post-apocalyptic future where there’s a huge city that’s separated into sections by three giant circular walls. Why are these walls there you ask? Well there’s these giant, naked (but not anatomically correct, so no genitalia thank goodness) beings called Titans that show up from time to time and attack the city. None have attacked in a hundred years, so people view them as myth and go on with their daily lives. Three friends since childhood named Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman, and Armin Arlert serve as the main characters here. They long to discover what’s out there on the other side of the outer wall, as people have never ventured outside. Just when everything seems to be too boring and peaceful, a mega-sized titan appears that’s even larger than the tallest wall and makes a hole in it, which paves the way for slightly smaller, but still giant titans to make their way into the city.
Mass panic and chaos ensues as the city tries to fight off the titans as townspeople evacuate into the middle part of the city, but not without hundreds of them being eaten by the giant monsters. Two years go by, and Eren, Mikasa, and Armin have joined the military force that fights back against the titans with specialized equipment called omni-directional mobility gear. This allows them to shoot out grappling hooks and speed through the air while using special swords to cut out the back part of a titan’s neck, which is their only weakness and will die if stuck. The three friends will make some allies and enemies in their military group while also having to deal with the titan threat in the first part of the movie, with the second part focusing on more of that along with a game-changer that can either save humanity from the titans or drive civilization into chaos.
I’m a sucker for giant monster films, so of course I enjoyed watching Attack on Titan for the most part. It was pretty disturbing seeing giant naked people eating and tearing apart the villagers. It also doesn’t help that the facial expressions of titans look nightmare-ish, such as most of them are always smiling, have eyes too far apart, or have mouths that are split on the sides. One of the best things about the films can also be viewed as one of the worst about them, and that’s the major liberties that were taken. Now I understand they changed some things so as not to be a shot-for-shot take on the manga and anime, but some of the changes are really out of place and take away from the story and setting.
For example, in the manga/anime, everyone used horses and carriages to get around, but here they have vehicles. The characters are a lot older here versus being teens, and there’s also quite a few characters made specifically for the movie. This is fine, but some of them have weapons that seem clunky and pointless for them to carry, such as a rocket launcher, a giant axe, or bow that feels like they were taken out of the Monster Hunter game series. There’s also a lot of backstory elements that were altered or just skipped over, which I can understand for a movie. But this movie was broken into two parts, so you think they could’ve included some of them. The special effects capture the look and feel of the source material pretty well, and thanks to having a Blu-ray screener, everything looks great in high definition. The sounds are spot on as well, as every titan roar, people screaming, and fitting musical score come through without a hitch.
If you enjoy giant monster movies and aren’t squeamish, you’ll love Attack On Titan Part One and Two. Those new to the franchise will be the ones who benefit for viewing the most, as they can go in without knowing any of the liberties that were taken, Fans of the anime/manga on the other hand might not like what they see here, but if they’re willing to go in with an open mind, a nice stand-alone movie piece is what they’ll get out of it.