The Films (3/5, 3.5/5)
Mankind is living in fear of giant human looking creatures called Titans. The Titans suddenly started attacking mankind one hundred years ago, destroying most of humanity. The section of their world is protected by three huge walls that have until now kept the monsters out. Teenagers Eren (Haruma Miura), Mikasa (Kiko Mizuhara), and Armin (Kanata Hongo) witness the resurgence of the Titans and barely escape with their lives. The three of them join the local army and plan to get revenge for their village. Two years later the gang are given a special mission to fix the hole in the wall, so the titans will be stopped again. But the assignment turns out to not be so simple, especially when Captain Shikishima (Hiroki Hasegawa) is dropped into the mix. The Captain is a Titan killing machine, but his carefree attitude and hidden agenda may change the fate of the world forever.
Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan Manga is a surprise success that is still gaining popularity around the world. In 2009 Isayama started the comic and unleashed an unusual blend of tokusatsu action and political unrest. The comic quickly became a hugely successful anime TV series, so it was a new brainer that Toho studios would make a live action adaptation. Instead of one big movie, the studio decided to release the story in two halves ala LORD OF THR RINGS or HARRY POTTER, giving us a big twist at the end of part 1. The ground work for an Ultraman style adventure was there, but manga to movie adaptations can always be a mix bag. Luckily ATTACK ON TITAN THE MOVIE is a positive example of this quickly growing subgenre.
Unlike other Manga to Movie films, ATTACK ON TITAN delvers a fun action plot that tries to stay to the character’s origins while at the same time changing the action to fit limitations of live action. Unlike the disastrous Dragon Ball movie DRAGON BALL EVOLUTION (2009), this movie at least feels like TITAN. Now for a nonfan of the series like myself, the most interesting aspect of the production was the creative team and mainly director Shinji Higuchi (SINKING OF JAPAN). Higuchi most recently co directed the 2016 movie SHIN GODZILLA, and I was fascinated to see what he and his crew brought to the table. Like the later Toho epic, ATTACK ON TITAN brings a high level of excitement and energy to the movie. The visual effects are a balance of partial models, and smooth CGI that is used correctly. The movie also has a handsome set of suits for the two main Titans, and the Colossal Titan is a gorgeous cinematic monster.
The rest of the movie is like a living breathing cartoon. It has fast editing, flamboyant characters, clichéd villain roles, and plenty of melodramatic screaming. The series trademark pully and flying system of shooting across and stabbing the Titans with swords comes off naturally in the movie and heightens the element of steam punk. The flying sequences are well handled by the crew and never seem to silly. Near the middle of Part 2, there’s a full on dragged out Monster battle that would make WAR OF THE GARGANTUANS (1966) proud. So, the mix of giant monster thrills and super hero powers is thrilling, sadly the movie starts to lose steam with its characters.
Shortening a running TV series down to three hours is of course a difficult job, and its necessities to trim out characters, But ATTACK ON TITAN is sadly only given paper thin characters. The whole script is lacking in depth and aside from three or four of the main ones, I quickly became confused on who was who. A big misstep is having a time skip admitting what happened in the two years between the Titan attack and the new mission. Having at least 10 or 20 minutes to draw out characters would’ve helped punch up the impact of the steaks of the mission and weight to the doom heading to them. The actors themselves are fine, but other than massive amounts of screaming and jumping there’s not much there to root for.
Aside from the thin characters and unbalanced script, ATTACK ON TITAN THE MOVIE is a fun action film, if you watch parts 1 and 2 back to back. The pace is fast and the story is filled with twists and turns. Some elements are still too melodramatic but like it’s anime source, it’s ultra-violent and over the top nature make it loads of fun.
Both ATTACK ON TITAN movies come in Blu-ray and DVD combo packs. With each movie having two discs and a booklet for a digital copy. Both movies come with Dolby True HD Japanese 5.1 and English 5.1 tracks. The DVDs contain the normal 5.1 versions. The original Japanese track is smooth with no noticeable audio issues. Dialogue is crisp and clear. The soundtrack too has an excellent sound mix that doesn’t drown out the effects or becomes over powering. The English dub version is slightly louder in places. The effects and Music are about the same level. I personally would go with the Japanese, but the dub track is perfectly fine. English Subtitles are included on both films.
Both movies have an eye popping 1080p HD transfer. The picture just dances off the screen. The black levels are sharp and have many layers of detail. A heavy amount of the movie’s screen time is spent in bombed out grey surroundings, and the transfer is fine toothed color corrected so everything is stylish and clear on screen. The early scenes in the fields are full of life and the bright greens are full of texture. There’s some minor motion blur in a few of the action scenes. So, the picture is near perfect with some minor hiccups. Overall a fantastic presentation.
Extras are a little slim on these releases. Both movies come with the original Japanese trailer and teaser. Part 1 also includes the US release trailer. Also included is 12 minutes of trailers for other Funimation releases.
While not perfect, ATTACK ON TITAN THE MOVIE is a fun movie. It’s somewhat true to its Manga source material in look and feel, but dropped the ball big time on character development. Funimation gives the movies are fantastic looking and sounding release that is a welcomed addition to fans of the series. Recommended.