Attack on Titan is a well loved Manga, and a well loved Anime, neither of which I have experienced. This despite the fact that almost everyone I know has been pestering me to see it, because ‘I would love it’. So, when I was given the chance to see a double bill of both live action films, it seemed like the perfect time to get on board the Attack on Titan fanboy train.
Set an unspecified time in the future, Attack on Titan sees Earth’s remaining humans living behind three sets of concentric walls that were constructed to keep them safe from the Titans, giant humanoids who eat humans. After 100 years without any contact with the Titans, out of nowhere they break through the outer wall, causing the humans to retaliate. Unsurprisingly, Attack on Titan: Part 1 is the first part of the live action adaptation of this story.
First things first, this film is definitely not an English or American film. It’s a high budget, big release, with some really out there ideas, and what might be the most graphic violence I’ve seen for a long time. It was actually very refreshing to see a film of this caliber taking so many risks, because (other than perhaps Mad Max: Fury Road) I can’t think of anything I’ve seen that’s this brave for a long time.
Unfortunately this works both ways. As with a lot of Japanese films, the humour very much misses the mark. There’s one character in particular who was included for comic relief, and they feel incredibly out of place in what is otherwise a pretty serious film. On top of this, there are some strange visual choices that are straight out of the anime, and they simply don’t work in live action. Additionally, some of the subtitles are a little bit off, but you can’t really blame the film for that.
Of the two films, much like Kill Bill, the first half is definitely the action half, and even though I have some gripes with the film overall, once the fighting starts, all of that goes out of the window. Yes, the effects don’t look as good as a big budget Hollywood films, but they’re not noticeably bad. The excellent and unapologetic costume and set design more than makes up for that, but there is one design choice that slightly lets it down. In this film you’re introduced to a lot of characters very quickly, and since they’re all dressed the same and flying around the screen very quickly, it can be hard to know who you’re watching at any particular time. This becomes a bit of an issue when people start being killed, and you don’t know (or care) which character just had their head bitten off.
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