This review includes spoilers.
If you're on the fence about whether to watch this or not, you can add me to the “not” column. This movie is terrible. I'm no longer even the slightest bit tempted to get Part 2.
I haven't really been able to get into the original Attack on Titan manga, but the franchise as a whole interests me and I loved the anime. One thing fans of this series need to know is that this movie isn't the same as the manga or the show. Humanity is still living inside three concentric walls, a huge titan still knocks a hole into the outer wall, lots of people get eaten, and the whole storyline about plugging the hole in the wall still exists. However, many important details have been changed or completely dropped from the story.
Eren, Mikasa, and Armin are still friends at the start of the movie. Armin enjoys inventing things, even though advanced technologies are forbidden (never mind that several groups of people travel in armored cars later in the movie). Eren and Mikasa appear to like each other, but Eren is too busy dreaming about visiting the world outside the walls and being angry that humanity is trapped to do much more than show off and give Mikasa his scarf. Not one bit of Mikasa's original backstory is evident, and Eren's parents apparently died a while back.
In the original series, it was well-known that scouts had traveled to the outside world and had almost always been wiped out, at least until Erwin Smith got to start trying new tactics. In this movie, no one has seen a titan in years, and the omni-directional maneuvering gear (or whatever it's called) isn't developed until after the outer wall is breached. One thing that had me seeing red: for a while it appeared as though Mikasa was killed during the chaos after the outer wall was breached. Considering that she and Levi were my favorite characters in the original series, this was not a change I welcomed.
Thankfully, she wasn't actually dead. Unfortunately, Levi was dropped from the story and replaced by a Levi-wannabe jerk named Shikishima. Since Mikasa's backstory had also been dropped, she no longer had a bone-deep loyalty to Eren and instead seemed to be Shikishima's favorite playmate. My skin crawled during the scene in which Shikishima essentially taunted Eren with Mikasa, while she passively let him do it. This, by the way, was soon followed by a scene in which two lovebirds in the group tried to quietly have sex in a corner and Hiana offered herself to Eren while he was still trying to get over being snubbed by the almost-girlfriend he'd thought was dead.
I hated the way this movie treated pretty much the entire named female cast. The women were all girlfriends (Lil), potential girlfriends (Mikasa, Hiana), objects to be fought over (Mikasa), or jokes (Hans, Sasha). The women were also always the ones who rushed after crying babies. To be fair, though, the entire cast was pretty terrible. The only ones I even vaguely felt like rooting for were Armin and Sasha, and even they were lackluster.
I thought humanity was doomed in the original series, but in this adaptation it was even worse. The group that went out to repair the wall barely seemed to have had any training, the entire plan hinged on humanity's last supply of explosives, and the plan itself, if it worked, would leave part of the wall significantly shorter than the rest. People already knew that there was at least one titan who could look over the tallest part of the wall, so the wall would for sure never again be able to completely keep the titans out.
Let's see, what else... The special effects weren't very good. The best part was probably shots of the smaller titans during the scene when the wall first fell. Some looked more human than others, and there was something genuinely disturbing about the way they moved and smiled as they grabbed and ate humans. However, the colossal titan looked really fake, and I found that even the smaller titans tended to look more silly than scary later on. The scenes in which characters flew through the air while using their maneuvering gear could also have been better. Also, and I know this sounds weird for something Attack on Titan-related, I thought the blood was overdone.
Overall, this was a bad movie. Yes, it had quite a few new things to offer Attack on Titan fans, but the new stuff wasn't very good. In some cases, the liberties that the writer and director took with the original story actually made the world-building even fuzzier – I'm still wondering how that baby titan could even exist. I definitely won't be buying Part 2.
- Just previews for other Funimation products.