Ah, Attack on Titan. The original manga and anime took the world by storm, joining the ranks of Pokemon and Sailor Moon as one of Japan's most popular TV shows. Naturally, it wasn't long before the live action movie adaptation was announced by Toho, the studio that brought us the Godzilla movies (the originals, obviously). Fans went wild at the prospect, and the early teaser of a CGI titan in a car commercial only fueled fan enthusiasm. But everything changed when the movie was finally released.
Attack On Good Taste
The first Attack on Titan movie (or Shingeki no Kyojin if you're a purist) was a resounding success financially, earning $4.8 million in its opening weekend (or ¥578 million). Critically, however, the film bombed, as everyone from fans to professional reviewers slammed the movie.
The general consensus is that with plot changes that make no sense, a new setting that makes no sense, and character erasure that, well, makes no sense the film is a complete mess. You can read an excellent breakdown of the main reason the Attack on Titan movie fails here, but essentially the filmmakers made some very poor choices. Which is what all the reviews have been saying.
How they've said it is pretty great though, making the negative reaction maybe the most entertaining thing about the film's release. Here's my personal favourite reviews of the first Attack on Titan movie...
"Everything feels superficial. The title says Attack on Titan, and there are characters with names I’ve heard in Attack on Titan. But they’re not the same characters. Key moments are cast aside. Character motivations are either reworked, dissipated, or disregarded entirely. What makes these characters tick either isn’t shown or has been written out of the script entirely." - Kotaku
“The awkward plot keeps moving forward, making you more annoyed with the characters every minute. I wished the titans would eat the kids so the movie would just end. That’s not a good sign, because I’m pretty sure they’re not the team I was supposed to be rooting for.” - Cho Eiga Hihyo (think Metacritic)
You gotta love a good bad review! In some ways, watching the backlash to the first Attack on Titan film was as morbidly fun as watching the actual Titans destroy the humans in the anime. Director Shinji Higuchi was not about to sit back and let his creation be torn down without a fight though, and lashed out at Cho Eiga Hihyo in particular on his twitter, saying "who invited this idiot to the premiere?!" Ouch.
Honestly, I could go on and on about what I personally think is bad about the first film, but other than the fact that I've already done that, there's still the second film to talk about...
Titan Sized Flop
They say all press is good press but the ticket sales for Attack on Titan 2: End of the World proved that wrong. Compared to the $4.8 million take for the first Attack on Titan movie's opening weekend, the second film's profits were almost HALF that, at $2.7 million. Alright, so maybe calling it a flop is a bit extreme, but for a movie as eagerly anticipated as Attack on Titan, the second part's profits being half the original's is pretty bad. That means that half the people who went to see the first film just couldn't be bothered to see the conclusion to the story, and word of mouth only harmed the movies, failing to bring in a fresh audience.
Of course, Attack on Titan 2 still has a long time until it's pulled from cinemas, so maybe it'll recover from the comparatively bad opening weekend. Or it could anyway, if it had good reviews. And guess what: it doesn't!
Film critic Toru Sano delivered a scathing report on Attack on Titan 2, criticising everything from melodramatic acting to bad pacing.
While the first Attack on Titan eschewed plot in favour of gruesome action sequences, End Of The World apparently felt the need to play catch up, overloading the first half with reams of confusing exposition, then plunging straight into a final battle which lacked the human-gobbling joy of the first film, as it was just Titan Eren vs another non-Titan shifter (thanks to Bertholdt and Reiner being erased).
Even fans who enjoyed the first movie are being disappointed by the second part: such is the case of this Rappler reviewer, who found Attack on Titan 2 just plain dull.
"End of the World feels more like a sluggish crawl out of hysterical madness back into the boredom of normalcy than the culminating finish of a rabid orgy of delightfully awful graphics and corny melodrama."
So basically, if you were hoping the second film would redeem the first, your hopes may well have been dashed by clunky exposition and poor writing.
But there's still reasons to be excited about Shingeki no Kyojin: season 2 of the anime will finally be released in 2016, there's an awesome game coming soon, and we're getting that high school AU no-one wanted later this year. And if you still want to see a movie version of the story, why not check out this fan-made stop motion short, featuring cameos from other anime characters (like Puella Magi Madoka Magica).
Now how does that 3D maneuver gear animation look BETTER than the live action version?!
Attack on Titan will reach US theaters on September 30th, with End Of The World following on October 20th. Be sure to post your own review here, and let us know what you think in the comments!
(Box office numbers via Forbes.)