Friday, August 21, 2015

Part 1 of Live-Action Movie Dishonors ‘Attack on Titan’

Prior to watching this, I had already got warning from some sources that those who love the anime would likely hate this live-action movie.  This used to be a movie I was really excited of seeing; I was presuming that it was going to be, at the very least, as awesome as the essentially faithful Rurouni Kenshin live-action movies.  But because of the negative buzz, I already lowered my expectations so that the blow of disappointment will somewhat be softened.  Going into this movie, I felt I knew what I was going into.

But I found myself still taken aback by how different – and less – it is.  In an attempt to make itself fresh and distinctive from the anime, it took a lot of risky liberties.  In a way, I feel that I get where the producers are coming from, and appreciate a bit what was trying to be done.  By completely diverting from its source, surprising everyone – even the fans of the anime – became a possibility.

However, the Attack on Titan anime series is one of the greatest anime epics ever.  Everything about it is perfect (or close to perfection).  It knocked my socks off when I saw it for the first time, and it has been deeply venerated in my consciousness.  So I really find myself unable to see this live-action adaptation in a whole new perspective.  I can’t help but compare it to its source material, which is impeccable in my eyes.  Therefore, I’m generally underwhelmed and frustrated by almost all of the deviations, and, by this, was hindered of enjoying the movie as it is.

At some point while watching, I came to the conclusion that this live-action movie is an atrocity to the anime.  Not only does the live action not do justice to its source material, but it also gives the feeling that it has diluted and neutered the awesomeness found in the Attack on Titan anime.  All the unwelcomed departures from the source caused blandness and lack of depth in the storytelling; poor characterization and development of characters, leading to the difficulty of liking and rooting for them; and an overall sense of inferiority in quality.

Moreover, the live-action movie fails in being visually pleasing.  Compared to the exciting and gorgeous visuals of the anime, the live-action severely pales in comparison.  The visual effects, production value, and camera work only looked a step above a ScyFy made-for-TV movie production.  Most of the actions scenes are boring, and there is no beauty in its sets.

Waiting for the second season of the anime (delayed till next year), it’s much more rewarding to re-watch the first season for the nth time (I already did it twice, and I might do it one more time) than watching this live-action movie.  That said, I’m still on board for Part 2.  Hopefully, by that time, I would have got over my disappointment of not seeing a faithful adaptation and would have developed more tolerance for all its second-rate reinventions – or, more preferably, that the story would actually get better from its stubborn assertion to go as far from its anime source as it can (which I doubt).  Besides, the nerdy completist in me just requires seeing this through to the end. 

Miscellaneous SPOILER-Y musings:
  • The most exciting sequence in the movie – when Eren finally transformed into a Titan and started beating the crap out of other Titans – came around the last five minutes of the movie.  So, yeah, the movie was boring at most parts.
  • A human character judo threw a Titan.  I face palmed at the pure ridiculousness of the scene.
  • I was satisfied by the depiction of Titans in live-action by actors in costume and makeup.  I find a sense of enjoyment of seeing them being as hilarious as they are terrifying.  On the other hand, the CGI Colossal Titan was plain garbage.
  • The most badass Attack on Titan character, Levi, is not in this movie.  BUMMER!
  • My biggest peeve is the post-apocalyptic industrialized setting (yep, more than not having Levi).  I think the anime’s medieval-like world that has developed many years after the appearance of the Titans is more interesting.
  • I find the “death” of Mikasa twist nearly as unexpected as the anime’s brilliant “death” of Eren twist.  But at that point of Mikasa’s “death”, the narrative had already established how completely different the live-action movie is from the anime that the surprise did not bring as much dramatic impact as it should.  It would have been a welcome mindblowing surprise if that was the first deviation from the anime that the movie presented.
  • Mikasa was introduced as this girly, weak character that I had no problem when she was killed off at the start.  That’s not the Mikasa I know anyway.  Even when it was revealed that she didn’t really die, and she reappeared later on now having the familiar badass, cold personality associated with the character, she still isn’t exactly the Mikasa we love in the anime.  It would have been actually more interesting if she remained dead.
  • It’s hard to get invested on the annoying, inaccurately-portrayed, and poorly-written characters.  The Attack on Titan anime did a fine job of making you care for its characters that deaths really deliver emotional blows.  On the other hand, I was actually cheering the live-action Titans to devour the live-action characters most of the time.
  • I hate the SS Nazi uniform of the Military Police.
  • Is it just me or is there implication that the Titans are mutated humans that resulted from the mysterious nuclear/biological apocalyptic war of the past?  That’s actually legitimately intriguing, and the best thing that I can take from this awful movie.
  • Let me put this one last thing on a tall pile of disappointments: the awesomely stirring Attack on Titan theme, “Guren No Yumiya”, isn’t used in the movie.  It could have been a huge redeeming factor.  I was really hoping that it would be the music during its ending credits.
  • Seriously, when are we due to have another perfect live-action anime adaptation as Rurouni Kenshin?

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