Anime Reporter tackles the king-size second installment in the Attack on Titan adaptation. Attack on Titan: End of the World promises bigger things with its title alone, but how does it measure up? Let’s discuss.
Yep, there be spoilers further down, so tread carefully and watch your head.
Well, as you may recall from my last review of the first live-action AoT film, I felt there were a few key elements lacking. This came down to plot, character and visuals, not counting changes from the original which I didn’t personally like. These aspects are what I’ll primarily be assessing to determine if Part 2 redeems the movies as a pair, or whether it’s just a lesser version of what could have been.
Let’s begin with plot. All in all, the second installment does a solid job of reconciling the odd plot choices of the first film and making them feel somewhat more relevant. The first film made it pretty clear that this story is set in a world not unlike our own, with the remnants of human technology serving as artifacts or ruins dotting the landscape. The second film gives a purpose to this immediate revelation, though it doesn’t redeem the plot entirely. In terms of the actual events which take place, it’s still that little bit messy. We’re barely past volume 1 of the original manga in some place, while revealing critical conspiracy plots which belong much further down the road and skipping over a hell of a lot of the world the story takes place in. In my last review, I compared the first film unfavourably to the Power Rangers, and I’m afraid I have to again. It’s all human-sized people running about trying over the top things and then acting surprised when it escalates into fights between towering monsters.
What makes the anime and manga stand out is not merely the action scenes with giant combatants. It’s the intrigue, the sense of mystery, not knowing which of your favourite characters you can trust and which ones are about to break your heart. This film rushes the grander suspenseful elements, bypasses all characterisation and then presents a supposedly world-changing climax which is hard to care about, considering that the viewer hasn’t been introduced to the world outside of a rag-tag group of military misfits who are mostly nameless in this adaptation and all boils down to one or two characteristics. There’s the character who has siblings who are mentioned multiple times, but never amount to anything more informative than that they exist, there’s the girl who likes potatoes, there’s the scientist who gets really excited and then there are a few named characters, who might as well be named Good Guy A, Good Guy B, Good Girl A, Jerk A and Jerk B. Nobody really develops much further than these tropes for even a minute and the film feels more drawn out for not engaging with its own characters.
The visual effects are one place where this film actually surpasses its older sibling. Although I imagine these two were filmed back to back, it really does seem like the special effects were brought up a notch for this installment. Titan fights look less like a guy in a rubber suit and the colossal titan from the first film looks way more impressive.
All in all, this pair of films feel like a fairly good fan tribute, but they don’t live up to their potential. Big-time AoT fans will most likely be interested and might as well check the films out, but, as a less than stellar representation of the property, I can’t recommend these films to newcomers who want to sample Attack on Titan for the first time.