If someone came up to me and asked, “Is there a movie that has a weird take on cannibalism?” I’d reply, “By Joe, there is! It’s called Attack On Titan!” I would then inform this hypothetical person that he/she could either watch the two-part live action movie, or the 25-part anime, or read the manga it was all based on.
I’ve only seen a little bit of the anime myself; maybe up to episodes five or six, right after the lead kid was eaten by a Titan, which ever episode that was. It wasn’t bad, but I find this live action movie to be better.
The anime has really great animation and the Titans are certainly original and menacing, but to see them made into live action is far creepier, and it’s certainly a bloody movie. The anime was too, but to see these creatures tearing into live action humans and eating them is far more potent to the senses. There was a shot from the top of this building that showed the destruction these Titans wrought as they wondered around looking for humans to devour and I had this sense I was watching someone’s nightmare. Actually I had that sense long before that scene, but that shot solidified it so exquisitely. What level of Hell am I seeing here, I eventually asked myself? I never had that sense watching the anime.
What are Titans?
There giant, unsettling looking humanoid beings (male and female) that feed solely on humans. Not one of these Titans looks the same, but all of them are sexless (no sex organs at all) and have these giant mouths that split on the sides when they open to chow down on one of us puny normals. Trust me on this. They looked bizarre in animation form, but ten times more terrifying in live action. There this one Colossal Titan that stands hundreds of feet that looks like none of these others. What it is, I nor do any of the characters have any inkling. Yet. They have shitty night vision, which keeps them from hunting prey after sunset, but have really excellent hearing that’s attuned to pick up even the faintest human voice. Despite having no sex organs they still breed. How? Who the fuck knows. A baby Titan is encountered in the movie. The main problem is no one knows where they came from, why they exist, or how they multiply.
The main characters are Eren (Haruma Miura), Mikasa (Kiko Mizuhara) and Armin (Kanata Hongō). In the anime they’re a lot younger, here they appear to be late teens early twenties. Mikasa in the anime is the adopted sister of Eren, but here they are boyfriend and girlfriend.
The technology presented in the anime was cannons and bow and arrows, I don’t remember seeing any guns or modern tech in it, but that’s all changed for the live action version. In the anime I was never sure what this world was, an alternate timeline is what I thought. In the live action version there is modern tech seen (the remnants of a helicopter, an unexploded bomb, and rifles), but it’s explained the outside world has been rendered inhabitable and no one has seen any modern tech in use other than those aforementioned rifles, giving me the impression this is a century after World War III.
As the legend goes a hundred years ago the Titans appeared and began killing people, a great wall was erected around this city in response. An outer wall behind which all the lower class citizens live while an inner wall was constructed behind which all the rich live. And for a century the Titans haven’t been an issue, so much so the current generation views them as just legends, but Eren is not content to live out his entire life behind this wall. That’s when the Titans attack. It starts with that Colossal Titan kicking a hole in the great wall to allow the smaller ones in. He had one job and by God he did it admirably. He’s never seen again.
Once the smaller ones are in they just make an bloody mess of the town. The inner wall, however, is never breached, so it’s only this terrain between walls that has turned into a landscape straight out of Hell. Eren and Mikasa were separated during this siege of their home, and she may have been killed. He thinks she’s been killed. Life goes on, unfortunately. The movie cuts to two years later when we see Eren and Armin have joined the military and intend to do their part against the Titans this way. The plan is to wait till night, creep out from behind the second wall and make their way to the part of the outer wall that was breached. Using explosives they want to collapse the upper portion to close off the breached lower portion so no more Titans can get in, or out, then kill off all the Titans currently inside. This has been attempted numerous times before with utter failure, and the attempt this movie is focusing on now is humanity’s last chance.
I know what you’re thinking. So, how do you kill a Titan? Well, it’s not easy. It can be done if you can strike a lethal blow at the base of the neck behind the head. If a strike is successful they fall down dead and collapse into ash. If you try to blow them up they’ll just regenerate the blown up body parts. The really fucked up thing is you can blow their heads clean off and the head will regenerate too. So, special devices are made for these soldiers to reach their necks. This Vertical Maneuvering Equipment allows a soldier to get high, to swing around, to get behind their necks and slice them open with their swords. If you’ve got your shit together you can kill them with ease, if you don’t, dear Lord, it’s a damnedable mess you’ll turn yourself into. One chick was actually squashed against a building by a Titan like she was a bothersome fly.
This mission as you can guess ends up turning into an utter clusterfuck the result of which gets a lot of Eren and Armin’s friends killed. Eren even learns his chick survived and she was trained by this soldier to be a Titan killing machine. They both are, and it appears they may be a couple, devastating Eren. But that’s the least of his problems. He gets eaten during the course of the movie as he saves Armin from getting eaten himself, and if you thought the movie was weird already, it gets infinitely weirder when that Titan who ate Eren dies due to another Titan bursting out of its body.
This new Titan looks different and it hates other Titans. It even likes to kill other Titans. This Titan looks the creepiest! This is where the movie started to remind me of War Of The Gargantuas (1966). One of my favorite kaiju movies and one that terrified me as a child. The Gargantuas are creepy looking beasts, and there are two of them. One good, one bad, and seeing this new Titan go after other Titans had me thinking of that movie, especially since the effects for the Titans are wisely practical, being portrayed by actors rather than CGI.
Once this Titan is done killing all other Titans it can get its mitts on, it collapses and from the back of its neck pops Eren in some kind of embryonic sac and in one piece. He had his leg bitten off before he went down the hatch. This is where the movie ends. This is Part One of a two-parter. It runs ninety minutes. I assume Part Two runs that too. So you’ve got a three hour adaptation of a manga and an anime series. From what I understand these movies tanked in Japan and didn’t fare much better over here when Funimation acquired them and gave them limited theatrical releases. I’m guessing if you’re familiar with the anime or the manga you’ll probably find a three hour live action movie adaptation to be too lean to be faithful. I do agree with the anime you get more backstory and history of the main characters and just more of an expansion on the story overall. This could be why it tanked. I don’t know, just a guess.
UPDATE (12/22/16)—Attack On Titan: The Movie, Part 2 Review
What we finally learn in Part 2 is the origin of the Titans themselves, and the reason they suddenly attacked the Great Wall a century after it was built to keep them out and ensure the survival of what little remained of mankind. Considering how events in the world are playing out their origin and re-appearance is a timely one.
Titans were, and are, human!
Back when mankind was still master of its domain the military experimented on certain humans and turned them into Titans, the details of how and why this happened are never explained. Titans were then used in wars. But something went out of control, which again is never expounded upon. All that is known is anyone anywhere could suddenly turn into a Titan and there’s news footage shown of a person in a convenience store that goes all Titan on everybody and death results. This is when the majority of humanity became extinct. Those that survived, those that didn’t change, gathered and lived in this secret bunker, and from that “base of operations” mankind thrived, as it had before, but within a closed ecosystem of walls for a century.
This is where things get even more insidious and timely. The elites, the ruling class, the one-percenters, didn’t like that their people were dreaming of venturing beyond the wall to make a life outside, so, Titans were “invited” in to keep the masses frightened and in their place just so the ruling class could hold onto power. That Colossal Titan that breached the wall in the beginning of Part 1 was no accident, it’s revealed as Part 2 goes along certain humans can still transform into Titans. From what’s on display in the movie the triggering mechanism appears to be impending death. Getting swallowed by a Titan is what triggered Eren’s metamorphosis, and there are two more Titans in Part 2, two more humans who can transform no one but a select few (in one case one person) knows about. The Colossal Titan is General Kubai (Jun Kunimura), which isn’t revealed until the end and Captain Shikishima (Hiroki Hasegawa) is one too, which is another shock, well, only to those who aren’t familiar with manga and anime I suppose. How they learned they were Titans is never revealed either.
Shikishima recruits Eren into his secret squad once he learns he can become a Titan but Shikishima’s goal isn’t to repair the hole in the Wall, it’s to destroy the ruling class who live behind the third inner wall. Revenge is what he wants and he’s going to get it by destroying their wall so the Titans can surge in and eat them all up. Of course that presents a greater problem, what about all the people living behind the third wall who aren’t part of the ruling class and who don’t want to end up in the gullet of a Titan? Its clear Shikishima doesn’t care about the collateral damage.
The squad from the first flick is whittled down even more when the sudden appearance of the Shikishima Titan drops in to kidnap Eren. What’s left sets out to complete their mission and seal up that goddamn hole. Their plan now involves a dormant missile from the age of man that Eren, Armin and Mikasa stumbled across in the beginning of Part 1. But Shikishima and his secret squad attempt to take the missile from them and this leads to a big fight between Shikishima Titan and Eren Titan. Now we’re definitely in War Of The Gargantuas territory than ever before. Part 2 is focused more on our heroes, with two major Titan fight highlight. The one I just mentioned and the one at the Great Wall with the Colossal Titan at the end. That ending battle is certainly something to behold, the perfect ending(?) to this two part movie arc.
Stick around during the credits because there’s one post credit scene that indicates there could always be more live action Titan movies to be made, but I doubt there will be. Season Two of the anime series is set to air next year in Japan, so whatever else is to come we’ll have to enjoy in that medium for the foreseeable future. There is a happy ending in the live action movie, and we finally get to see what the outside world looks like. Not as bad as I was expecting, and the Wall was constructed right next to the ocean.
Back on October 4th U.S. anime distributor Funimation released Attack On Titan: The Movie, Part 1 here in the U.S. in a DVD/Blu-ray combo and a solo DVD, which you can buy either at their site, or from Amazon. And on December 6th they released Attack On Titan: The Movie, Part 2 in the same DVD/Blu-ray combo and solo DVD format!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 2.39:1 high definition widescreen—5.1 English Dolby TrueHD, 5.1 Japanese: Dolby TrueHD—English subs only
Extras included . . .
- Japanese Trailers
- U.S. Theatrical Trailer
- Funimation trailers
May hat’s off to Toho for getting hold of this and making their live action movies!