Attack on Titan live-action film: unique spin-off or complete ripoff?

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I did not want to see this movie. Not at first anyway.

I suppose with a franchise as successful as Attack on Titan, opinions could go either way: would it live up to its reputation? Is it going to smash records like its manga and anime predecessors did? What are Eren and Mikasa and Armin like?

The reason why I didn’t watch it before wasn’t because of all the reviews I’d heard. Rather, it was because I knew how I was going to feel after watching it: slightly jaded, and somewhat disappointed. And I have the anime to blame for setting the standards so high.

Finally curiosity got the better of me, and seeing that I had time to kill tonight, I decided to buy my ticket to watch the movie, which had been running since August 13. And I’m going to try to share as much as I can without spoiling too much.

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Let’s just start by saying that there is no comparison at all, and it would probably be unfair to compare anything across all platforms. While the anime retains the integrity of the manga, the live-action film is merely inspired by it, and tries to stand as a quasi-original piece of work. The names of our three young heroes remain, and by and large, the main titans are easily recognised. But that’s probably where all similarities end. The names of other secondary characters are changed; the town names are changed; heck, while the Survey Corps in the anime were still riding on horses and carriages, there was the remains of an abandoned malfunctioned helicopter in the movie.

I wondered if the production team had decided to take this route because they assumed that it would’ve been pointless to retell the same sequence of the story, when its potential audience would have already memorized it by heart. Perhaps they decided that what they lacked in storyline, they made up with some pretty impressive cinematography, art direction, animated sequences, costume designs and make-up (I mean come on, those people playing the titans must’ve taken hours). The amount of detail that went into the various settings was quite something.

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But a good stage can only get you so far. If the script is bad, the show is bad. And the script, unfortunately, was probably what did the whole thing in for me. I would have rather they kept on the path of telling a storyline that fans are already familiar with, but with the kind of visual excellence that could have made the entire storytelling experience highly memorable. Some of the characters were also genuinely great and easy to follow (hint: Hanji Zoe’s alternate ego); but there were a few others that were assholes for the sake of being assholes, and there was nothing in between to keep balance. And that is a huge shame.

Part 2 (「進撃の巨人:エンドオブザワールド」Shingeki no Kyojin: End of the World) will be released in Japan on September 19. Don’t hold your breath.

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