October 5, 2015

Movie Monday: Attack on Titan, Part I

This past week, the Attack on Titan: Part I movie premiered in the US.  You might be more familiar with Attack on Titan by its original Japanese name, Shingeki no Kyojin.  It is an extremely successful manga series that has been adapted as an anime (second season coming soon!), a video game, and now a movie.  It has also spawned spin-off mangas and novels. 

The producers of the movie took several risky liberties with the story.  They keep the premise, that the remains of humanity are living in a walled city under siege by giant beings that eat humans.  They jettison much of the rest of the story.  Unfortunately, these risks don't pay off.

It's understandable that a long series would have to cut quite a bit of material to fit into a movie, even two movies.  Still, it is inexplicable that they would cut the most popular character, Levi, among others.  Worse, the missing characters are replaced by new characters we're given no reason to care about.  If there was space for a character there, why not use the original?

Of course, the characters that remain are butchered.  Their motivations are either missing or replaced by something far weaker.  This means that most of the characters make no sense, despite character being a strength of the original.  (Jean, I think, suffers the worst inexplicable motivation.)  And what is done to Mikasa (Mizuhara Kiko) is a tragedy.  In the Attack on Titan manga, she's a force to be reckoned with.  She's the best fighter and quite smart.  Here, she sits and cries while a titan approaches and makes no effort to run or hide of anything.

Trailer still of Mikasa-in-name-only
There are a few reasons to see the movie.  The special effects for the titans are pretty cool, nightmarishly distorted human beings.  They're pretty goofy until the blood starts flowing, and then they're just plain unsettling.  There are some good jokes, plus lots of unintentional comedy.  Attack on Titan: Part I is the kind of movie that you watch with friends in order to mock how stupid it is.  This is basically a horror movie where the humans only exist to get killed using the coolest special effects the filmmakers could manage.

If you've been curious about giving this story a try, don't start with the live-action movie.  This is a sad cash-in on a popular franchise.  I'd recommend starting with the anime, then the manga.  (Isayama Hajime's art is rough, making it difficult to get into the story at first.)  As it turns out, the book is better transcends language and culture.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting! To reduce spam I moderate all posts older than 14 days.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...