Anime Reporter has reviewed the early manga volumes and anime episodes and now it’s time for the live-action adaptation. Can Attack on Titan’s live-action film live up to its illustrated predecessors, or will it be the start of something bigger? Find out here.
There will absolutely be spoilers for this film and the anime and manga series ahead, so delve further at your own risk.
Attack on Titan, (this film), starts off on a similar, but not identical note to its predecessors, but we can get into the differences later. For now, let’s just look at what it’s actually about. Trapped behind giant walls for 100 years, humanity lives in fear of the titans that prowl outside. These titans are colossal beings, driven to devour humans without rest.Looking like giant, pale humans with stretched and distorted faces, they’re a creepy bunch. The film focuses on the aftermath when titans manage to break through the outer wall (of 3) and humanity is cut off from their food supply, while titans roam their farmlands.
The main character, Eren, is quick to sign up to be part of the military force trained to take on titans and the movie skips forward two years to get past all the training montages and right into the action. So, let’s talk about the action. A true highlight of the anime was its visuals. Characters flew through the air like Spider-man Xtreme and cut down grotesque monstrosities. In this film, bad CGI effects and titans which are clearly just mostly naked people with some marks drawn on them are distracting and somehow fail to carry the urgency of the situation. Many scenes of titans walking past buildings or devouring humans feel like outtakes from an old episode of Power Rangers and, while I appreciate the nod to classic Japanese monster films, it’s much harder to take seriously in high definition.
Plot and character development are both unfortunately rushed, while changes to the history and culture of this world seem without explanation or purpose. The plot doesn’t delve very far in terms of what transpires, but it still manages to feel a little bit shallow in terms of the detail we’re given. The second Attack on Titan film is due out soon, and it’s clear that this was never meant to be a standalone film, but it’s hard to declare a film to be fantastic when it feels like things have only gotten past the prologue stage ten minutes before the film’s end.
Perhaps Attack on Titan is just a series which doesn’t fit the 90 minute run-time of an action film. Maybe a live action series would have been a better investment and, without a doubt, there will be those less immune to this film’s charms than I am, but it’s very hard to shake the feeling that the best and definitive version of this series exists in animated form. In the anime, special effects were consistent, whereas transitions from human to titan scale are jarring and feel very artificial in the film. Characters in the anime were given real time to develop but they’re really reduced to bare tropes here and certain characters behave out of character entirely, and not for the better.
By all means, watch this film, enjoy it. But don’t make the mistake of watching this if you want to see what all the Attack on Titan fuss is about. The anime remains my #1 recommendation. Take 90 minutes, that’s four episodes, and if you’re not hooked by then, let it go. But watching this film won’t show you exactly what makes Attack on Titan as awesome as it is.