Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 27 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
(Japanese with English subtitles)
Directed by: Shinji Higuchi
Written by: Yusuke Watanabe & Tomohiro Machiyama
(based on the manga ATTACK ON TITAN by Hajime Isayama)
Starring: Haruma Miura, Kiko Mizuhara, Kanata Hongo, Hiroki Hasegawa, Takahiro Miura & Nanami Sakuraba
When I heard that ATTACK ON TITAN was hitting theaters in two parts, I immediately pre-ordered my tickets online. It wasn’t every day that I got to see an epic-scale foreign fantasy-horror flick playing in a huge multiplex. I also had not read any of the manga or watched a second of the anime, so I was walking into this as fresh/neutral to the material as I could have possibly been. However, Part 1 was a bit of a letdown. Though I didn’t hate the film, it only served as ridiculous stupidity that probably benefited by a theater of obvious diehard fans. The same cannot be said of Part 2 (a.k.a. ATTACK ON TITAN: END OF THE WORLD) which feels very much like a downgrade from the already shaky first part. Part 2 marks a disappointing conclusion to a cool premise that I imagine played out far better in both the animated format and on the page of a book.
To set the premise of Part 2, I’ll have to spoil details from Part 1. Consider this a spoiler warning for the first film. Let’s quickly refresh, most of humanity has been wiped out by a nuclear apocalypse and giant man-eating (seemingly indestructible) Titans. A small city has been locked away behind a series of giant walls that were breached in Part 1. Eren is a member of an elite task force sent out into the Titan-infested territory to seal the outer wall and reclaim a bit of the world for his starving community. However, this has not been easy and many have died along the way. Eren was also bitten by a Titan and seems to have the ability to transform into one of these monsters. That doesn’t exactly win him trust from his fellow soldiers (including a villainous commander). This doesn’t matter though as a last grasp for humanity hinges on Eren and his friends sealing the wall and squaring off against unexpected enemies (both Titans and humans hiding dark secrets).
The biggest problem with ATTACK ON TITAN: Part 2 seems to be a direct result from the decision to split this story into two parts. It becomes fully evident during this conclusion that splitting the material into two films was a quick cash-grab instead of a necessity that would benefit the plot (ala the first two DEATH NOTE films). I say this because Part 1 is very front-loaded with lots of human vs. Titan confrontations and Part 2 is more about plot twists. Some of these developments are genuinely unexpected, while others you can call from a mile away. I did like the ideas behind a few of these surprises, but felt that the movie half-assed it in the execution. Certain threats suddenly reveal themselves and are immediately dealt with in a matter of minutes. Also, the origin of the Titans is pretty cool, but bad effects really lessen the impact. It’s hard to be scared of something when you’re laughing at how silly it looks.
These effects also translate into the (very) few fight scenes we get in this second part. I thought the Titans in Part 1 ranged from goofy-looking to somewhat creepy, with the giant female being the best of the bunch. We only get about three action bits in this second part and the Titans used are on the cheesier side of things. These consist of people wearing masks and make-up (blown up to a huge size on the screen) and a horrible-looking CGI abomination that was briefly glimpsed in the first film. On a positive note, the unintentional silliness did receive a lot of guffaws and snickers from the audience. In this sense, there’s some entertainment value to be had in watching Part 2. Also, a few moments of comic relief (involving a soldier who enthusiastically loves weapons a little too much) genuinely worked.
As if to pad out the running time even further, ATTACK ON TITAN: Part 2 includes an annoying amount of flashbacks. A brief prologue serves as a much-needed refresher for Part 1 (which I appreciated as I saw the first film three weeks ago). Certain lines of dialogue would have been more effective if the film didn’t keep interspersing bits of Part 1 to blatantly spell everything out for us. Overall, ATTACK ON TITAN: Part 2 is a letdown. A big chunk of this disappointment can be blamed on the decision to split the material into two parts as this feels like a detriment to an otherwise okay movie. The rest of the problems come from cheesy effects and half-assed twists that could have been potentially clever if more time had been spent on them. Even though I haven’t watched a minute of the anime or read a page of the manga, I’d recommend choosing either of those over both of these movies.