Review: ATTACK ON TITAN 2: END OF THE WORLD

AoT2
Attack on Titan 2: End of the World
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(進撃の巨人 エンド オブ ザ ワールド)

Last month the review of the first installment of the live action adaptation Attack on Titan was covered in our podcast East Screen West Screen #170. I would urge any readers to give that episode a listen prior to going through this review as many of the problems of the first film carry over into part 2.  My goal with this write-up is to try to touch on some additional aspects with out becoming overly repetitive (a task that is made none to easy by the repetitive nature of this sequel).

After several minutes of unnecessary recap, we get what is roughly an 80-minute film.  That is a mere additional 80 minutes on top of the 98 minutes of part one to try and explain everything (which has developed across a multi-issue manga series and a 25-episode anime season (not including supplemental OVA entries).  So many of the same issues that arise in the first installment continue (and are compounded) here, including lack of character development, incomplete world building, unclear motivations, and some weak visual effects.  Add to that, scenes of exposition that serve to explain the state of things to the audiences, and a narrative rush to the finish line, and you pretty much have the makings of part 2.

The Plot:
We left part one with the scouts having failed in their mission to seal the wall and Eren (in titan form) kicking butt and taking names.  Now having been ‘discovered’ as a titan, he and the scouts are promptly taken back to by the military police with the intent to execute Eren.  Before any of this can happen a new, (male) armored titan shows up, smashes a bunch of nobodies in the scouting regiment (where there still so many left?) and snatches Eren away.AoT2a

Eren later awakens in an all-white room, where Captain Shikishima claims to have rescued him.  Here the captain schools him (and the audience) on all things titan with the aid of an Apple TV remote…yes you heard me right.

From here on out, my eyes started to gradually roll back in my head, with moments of sheer inanity only broken up by a kaiju style smack down between Titan-Eren and the armored newcomer.  AoT2b

Most of this is a clean divergence from the anime narrative (the armored titan in that version is a female, etc.) and they press into new territory (as Japanese IPs often do).  The film races to it’s climax to achieve a sunset-style conclusion with an ending that seeming forgets the narrative’s main problem to begin with (you know…ALL THE FREAKING TITANS OUTSIDE THE WALL!)

What do we learn?

  • Hey, an Apple remote that reveals the secrets of the movie in just under 10 minutes, too bad it was the old version, or it could have used SIRI to explain it to us.
  • We learn everything in a white room from one dude talking to another dude in a white room, both of whom are dressed in all white…who then go out and change back to their military duds. Come to think of it, Eren was unconscious, meaning Shikishima changed his clothes for him.
  • So the female titan is gone, traded up for a male armored titan who is actually…come on, you can guess, can’t you?
  • We are never shown a glimpse of the inner ring or the leadership beyond the general of the MP squadron. World-building fail.
  • Some of the Kaiju like moments of the middle fight are fun, but beyond that there is just not much more to this second part. The Wall-buster titan shows up again (of course) but no other titans of note are shown, just a few distant shots.
  • Speaking of the Wall-buster, that titan’s identity is revealed and there is a big bit of a clichéd final moment.

It’s currently not clear how much of what is revealed in the film is going to play out in the anime, but much of what I had initially guessed about the titans (and the wall) was correct (at least in the film version).  I stand by all of my grievances from the first entry discussed on the podcast.  This sequel should really only be seen by completionists who feel compelled to get a sense of closure from the first film.  Just don’t expect it to be very good.

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