Attack on Titan is one of Japan's biggest franchises, with both the manga and the anime shooting to international fame in just a few short years. It's easy to see why the story is so popular: the plot is complex, the characters are compelling, there are shocking twists, and the Titans are downright terrifying their grotesqueness. The story never veers too far into horror or humour but maintains a balance of both. It's pretty great.
Naturally, when the live action Attack On Titan movie was announced, the fans were delighted, and in the years before the film was released anticipation only built up. So it's not surprising that the movie disappointed fans: after years of hype it would be difficult to surpass expectations. But unfortunately this wasn't the case of a few fans nit picking, as the live action film was slated even by critics who didn't know the original material.
There is a chance for Toho to redeem themselves though: the Attack On Titan movie comes in two parts, with the second part premiering in America later this month. So can it win back fans?
End Of Fan Hopes
Attack On Titan 2: End Of The World has already been released in Japan, which gives us an idea of what to expect. Unfortunately, this just means we're prepared to be disappointed again.
Attack On Titan 2 is somehow, amazingly, even worse than the first film. The first movie set up a difficult situation, with incomprehensible story changes, clunky dialogue, melodramatic acting, and bad pacing. That's a lot for End Of The World to fix, and it kinda... doesn't. Suddenly remembering that plot actually is important, Attack On Titan 2 begins with solid swathes of exposition, as the writers desperately try to pull the story together and make it understandable.
Following this info-dump, the movie becomes almost entirely action sequences. This might be its redeeming feature, as the half CGI half motion capture Titans really do live up to their terrifying anime counterparts (and might even be more horrifying), and gore really is what these live action movies do well. But unfortunately Attack On Titan 2 manages to fail to deliver even this thrill, as the action is entirely between Titan-shifter Eren (oops, spoiler) and another Titan (who totally isn't a shifter because Annie, Bertoldt, Reiner, and Ymir have been erased).
And before you get excited about seeing the 3D maneuver gear on screen - don't.
The 3D maneuver gear is one of the most innovative and interesting part of the anime: the first footage released from season 1 was Mikasa flying through the sky using the gear, and it wowed pretty much everyone. When the live action movies were announced, people were hoping for special effects along the lines of Spider-Man, with actors soaring through the air. Unfortunately, studio Toho couldn't really deliver in this regard. Japanese critic Toru Sano was especially scathing...
"It’s incredibly hard to follow why the people on-screen are moving about, or where they’re going when they use their 3-D maneuver gear."
This really doesn't bode well for the US release of Attack On Titan 2, and the already negative response to the American release of the first film has me wondering whether End Of The World will do as badly in the States as it did in Japan...
Titan Sized Flop
They say all press is good press but the box office numbers for Attack on Titan 2: End of the World proved that wrong.
Thanks to the hype, the first Attack On Titan movie did phenomenally well at the box office, breaking records with its opening weekend and staying on the top spot for weeks. In total, Attack On Titan earned $4.8 million (or ¥578 million) on its opening weekend. However, bad reviews and word of mouth really hurt Attack On Titan 2: the second film's profits were almost HALF that, at $2.7 million.
That's pretty bad. That means that less than half of the people who went to see the first film could be bothered to sit through End Of The World's conclusion to the story, while the bad reviews failed to bring in many new viewers.
Attack On Titan 2 has yet to be released in the States, but so far the fan reception to the first movie has not been favourable. Those hoping that the second half would redeem the first would seem to be ready to have their hopes dashed: if the Japanese reaction is anything to go by, the second film is no improvement on the first (and if anything, it's worse).
But who knows, maybe the American reviewers will love the second half. We'll just have to wait until October 20th to find out.
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