ATTACK ON TITAN: PART 2 (2015)
(Directed by Shinji Higuchi)
(Written by Tomohiro Machiyama and Yûsuke Watanabe)
(Starring Haruma Miura, Kiko Mizuhara and Kanata Hongô)
Plot: Eren (Haruma Miura) turned into a Titan at the end of the first movie and killed all of the attacking Titans, before returning to his human form, but now his superiors want to destroy him. He’s rescued by a group who are rebelling against the Government and now he must choose a side. Also known as “Attack on Titan: End of the World” and “Shingeki no kyojin endo obu za wârudo“.
While “Attack on Titan: Part 1” has its fans, I personally thought it was unsatisfying as an adaption of the awesome manga/anime and as its own entity, although I can’t bring myself to feel any hostility. I do believe that the filmmakers sincerely tried their hardest to make a compelling movie, but were constantly being forced to make compromises due to their limited resources and working with a source material that wasn’t intended for the cinema. So I pulled back my punches a little bit out of respect for effort. Or maybe the rowdy crowd made me soft, as I had a blast listening to the entire theater laugh at everything. Hange’s (Satomi Ishihara) clumsy hijinks? HAHAHA! Sasha’s (Nanami Sakuraba) obsession with potatoes? HAHAHA! The Titans derp faces and the cheesy special effects? HAHAHA! Eren gets his leg bitten off? HAHAHA! A young Mother is eaten alive? HAHAHA! Ah, the film might have been bad. But the experience was good and I shall remember that fondly. I was curious where they would go with the sequel, as the first film changed or omitted so much important material from the manga that they’d have to deviate even farther from the original storyline. “Attack on Titan: Part 2” might be an improvement over its predecessor, but it’s better in the same way that “Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones” is better than “Star Wars: Episode 1- The Phantom Menace“, which is a bit of a backhanded compliment. Yet that statement alone barely scratches the surface, as many viewers might find this second part to be far more boring based on their preferences. Think of the ‘apples or oranges’ comparison, if neither fruit looked to be particularly fresh…and you were required to eat the apple first in order to understand the texture of the orange…
Maybe you just shouldn’t consume spoiled food. It would be better for your stomach.
“Attack on Titan: Part 2” was granted its divorce from the source material, as it has practically nothing to do with the manga or anime- with the few similarities being taken from “Attack on Titan: Part 1“, which had already taken serious liberties. Whether or not this was for the best is completely up to you, although I was personally fine with this decision. I hated seeing Eren so passive, Mikasa in a stupid love triangle with Eren and Fake Levi, the characterization changes and the inclusion of original characters when those of the manga would’ve perfectly sufficed. Yet by now, I have come to terms with the fact that the filmmakers want to tell their own story and by not adhering to the plot of manga at all, I no longer feel the need to compare and contrast the two. Unfortunately, ‘Part 2‘ has a storyline that is way too complex for a 90 minute feature. And yet it’s too pedestrian to justify a longer running-time! The first 15 minutes are dedicated to recaping the events of the first film, even though it had only been released like a month prior and this only tells me that even the filmmakers knew how underwhelming “Attack on Titan: Part 1” was. The next thirty minutes are so dense with information as Shikishima (Fake Levi; Hiromi Hasegawa) explains the origins of the Titans, the Governments corruption and the Scouting Legion to Eren. The audience was mostly dead silent and I’m pretty sure I even heard some snoring, until the homoeroticism began and someone yelled “Way to make it gay!“, which made everyone laugh. We also get a flashback surrounding Eren’s parents, something that probably should’ve been in the last film in order to foreshadow Eren’s Titan form. But quite frankly, a lot of this information probably should’ve been incorporated into the previous script, as it just makes “Attack on Titan: Part 2” lack an overarching vision. I sometimes felt like the filmmakers were just making things up as they went along and there are still so many loose ends. They build up a revelation that Eren has a brother and it’s pretty easy to deduce who that is (Armored Titan!), but there’s never any pay-off to this subplot as it’s never explicitly stated. They never even realize their relationship, stripping any potential drama from this subplot. Once again, were they forced to cut out a lot of material? Everything is so underdeveloped and I loved how they randomly built up the Scouting Legions as being elite, only for them to be removed from the story swiftly and stupidly. There are some plot holes, like why the Colossal Titan is so intent on stopping them from sealing the hole in the wall, when he could easily make another one…like he did in the first movie…That’s like…”Dragonball: Evolution” levels of bad writing…
I am glad that the characterizations were expanded, allowing us to learn about them as they show their true colors and even develop throughout the course of the film. Eren (Haruma Miura) eventually stops standing around and becomes pro-active, while Mikasa (Kiko Mizuhara) lightens up and becomes significantly less of a buzzkill. Armin (Kanata Hongô) uses his intelligence to advance the plot, Shikishima (Hiroki Hasegawa) has a lot more to do than just stand around and look dashing in the most cheesy way imaginable. He has a darker side and one begins to wonder if his ‘cool poses’ are just part of a facade, but either way, I enjoyed watching him. Hange (Satomi Ishihara) also gets a bigger role and provided some of the funniest moments, such as when she’s embracing her ‘love interest’ at the end. But all of the characters get more to do and are able to stand out a lot more, which allowed me to make a stronger connection to the narrative. I didn’t want to see everyone die and at times, I was even emotionally invested in their dilemmas. The actors somehow managed to be even more over-the-top than before, perhaps because they’re forced to spew out an increased amount of dialogue, which makes certain events a little difficult to take seriously. But the hammy acting also meant that the audience was able to laugh a lot more, so I won’t complain. I’d still say that everything is way too melodramatic to the point where you sometimes feel like you’re watching a soap opera, except unlike “General Hospital“, giant naked people eat the cast. The dialogue is goofy, especially when it’s trying to be deep and thought provoking, although it’s also a lot more mundane.
I’d say the CGI is better, but there’s A LOT less Titan action this time around, so I don’t know if the praise is deserved. This is an area that’s definitely going to turn a lot of people away, even fans of the first movie. Not counting the recap, there is only one brief Titan attack during the entire first HOUR of the movie, with the action being comprised of ‘human vs human’ battles…and talking…can’t forget the talking…Strangely, the best scene of both movies is when (human) Eren fights Shikishima, partially due to the solid choreography, but also because of the emotion involved. Eren’s intensity and desperation pitted against Shikishima’s advanced skills and smugness made it easy to root for him. When the Titans do come out to play, the focus is on the Rogue, Armored and Colossal Titans, while the man-eaters are practically relegated to cameos. The special effects used to bring these beasts to life is…alright, never being bad enough to take me out of the film, while never standing out as anything exceptional. The Titan battles are fun and it’s interesting seeing two intelligent Titans clash. The sets and locations don’t stand out as much (they were a highlight in the first film), but the cinematography is still really good and I personally enjoyed the inconsistent score. Sometimes it’s foreboding and other times rock tunes are played, but the music brought a lot of scenes to life while being easy on the ears. I thought the direction was a lot more inspired, probably because there was less of a reliance on post production effects. There were more artsy moments, but these flourishes in the staging, lighting and camerawork made the heavy dialogue a little easier to endure. I also thought the final scene, where we finally witness what is beyond the wall, was magnificent. The sense of triumph is contagious! There are also a lot of really cool spots, such as when the Armored Titan first appears and pimp slaps people to death. But the filmmakers are still constantly fighting the budget and I thought it was incredibly lazy seeing the Colossal Titan from the exact same angles as before. Even though the emphasis is on its size, I don’t believe there is ever a single shot of its entire body, as they always show it from behind the wall. The suspense was sadly lacking too, as the humans are rarely in peril, even though the stakes are technically higher. We needed to see more of the Titans eating people to remind us how dangerous they are.
You know…after writing this review, I’m beginning to wonder if I was being too generous when I claimed that “Attack on Titan: Part 2” was an improvement over the first part…because it’s pretty f@cking bad itself. It’s definitely superior when it comes to the character writing, as everyone serves a sturdier purpose within the narrative and they become more endearing or interesting in the process. It also ties up plenty of loose ends, although there are still a lot of unanswered questions, such as who tried to steal the explosives. Presumably it was just a random member of the rebellion, but why have them wear a mask if their identity is unimportant? The direction seemed sharper and more creative, probably to make up for the lack of spectacle, but at least some parts really stood out to me. Throughout the entirety of “Attack on Titan: Part 1“, I was mostly underwhelmed and very little of the movie has stayed with me, although I still remember the crowd. I do believe that a few strong parts of the sequel will linger longer within my memory. More importantly, I started making some emotional attachments to the characters…But there were also some serious gaffs, from continuity (Shikishima’s recliner?) to oversights (Just make another hole…) to simply amateurish writing (info dumps). I’m sure for many viewers, watching people get chewed into a nasty red paste by goofy looking giants was what made the first movie tolerable- maybe even enjoyable. You don’t get any of that here, so much of the appeal is lost. If you liked “Attack on Titan: Part 1“, I suspect that you won’t be too happy with this sequel, although you might as well watch it. If you disliked “Attack on Titan: Part 1“, then you might prefer this…although I don’t necessarily think it’s good enough to pursue. You just have to consider what has been said and how it relates to your own feelings and tastes. Does this sound like something you might enjoy? If so, watch it. Does it sound like something you think you’d dislike? If so, don’t watch it. But as a whole, I was disappointed with the “Attack on Titan” film saga. It was too underdeveloped and sloppy to be appreciated on their own, while manga/anime purists will only get angry. It’s not the worst adaptation out there, but it won’t be fondly remembered either. In fact, I think it will be forgotten rather quickly.
Violence: Rated R. It’s still rather graphic, but not as gory as its predecessor.
Nudity: Just some forced kissing and unfortunately, it’s not Shikishima smooching Eren.
Overall: “Attack on Titan: Part 2” is a mess, perhaps even more-so than ‘Part 1’. But unlike its predecessor, I expected less from it and at least this movie did a better job with the characters. I prefer it over the other one, if anything.