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Attack on Titan The Movie Part 2 Blu-ray Review

10 min read

attack-on-titan-the-movie-bdWherein we get to go in even stranger directions.

What They Say:
In Attack on Titan Live Action Movie Part 2, Eren’s newfound Titan ability may be the key to saving everyone and defeating the Titans. Except that isn’t what the government has planned. After Eren is pulled away from his execution by a mysterious Titan, he finds himself in a strange place with Shikishima.

Suddenly, he learns there is more going on than he could even comprehend. Government secrets, the truth about Titans and their existence… are Titans even the real monsters? Shikishima has a solution, a way to fix the world as it exists now. Can you really fix devastation with more destruction?

Eren and his friends must prove where their loyalties lie and what strength they truly hold. They’ll either find their hope or face their end. But there’s always more to the story than what is on the surface…

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track and the English language dub, both of which are 5.1 mixes encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The film has a decent amount of action to it that gives the encoding a decent workout, especially with the bass in some scenes, and that makes the sequences more compelling than they had been when I watched a flat stereo mix for a screener. The bigger moments definitely make out better for it and you can get swept up in it a bit more but there’s also some good things to like with the dialogue side. Placement is spot on as necessary, particularly with some of the distance and scale shots, and the quieter moments have a solid hushed feeling as needed while still being easy to hear. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally in theaters in 2015, the aspect ratio for this film is presented in its original format of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The film has some good set design elements to it and I like the grimy nature that it presents, though it avoids going grainy for the most part, which would give it an even richer war film feeling, and what the encoding does here is bring it to life well. The pop of color we get from time to time, especially with the reds and purples, definitely stands out like it should. A lot of what we get are some pretty grimy earth tone and those are solid and problem free. There’s a good sense of being there at times with the look of the film as it draws you in well, something that a problem free encoding like this really does require.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release is pretty nice as we get a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs along with an embossed O-card. The o-card replicates the case artwork but it has a more shiny and chrome feeling to it as the characters get the embossing along with the logo. The back cover gives the silver some additional pop with the visual of the titan along the top as its main feature. The premise is covered well with the summary and the few extras are clearly listed. The shots from the show are pretty pointless, especially since a decent chunk has to be given over to the usual awful UltraViolet explanation. The technical grid breaks down both formats well with how they’re put together. While there are no show related inserts included, just the UV information, we do get a good two-panel spread of the main cast of characters along the back looking all serious.

Menu:
The menu for this release keeps things simple as we get the visual of the titan rising over the wall set to a green hue as the background that’s giving it an interesting feeling. The logo through the middle is partially obscured by the titan and the wall itself doesn’t get much of a nod. The navigation along the bottom is blended into a black background so we get the simple text along with copyright information below it for the property. This doubles as the pop-up menu which is functional and problem free but not all that inspiring, which is the menu in a nutshell.

Extras:
The only extras included here are the original Japanese teaser and trailer.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second half of the Attack on Titan two-part live-action film release is something that’s definitely curious on a lot of levels. Similar to the first film I came away from parts of it that I liked and would have loved to have seen expounded upon. I even liked some of the Titan costuming that we get for Eren and the Colossal Titan as it had the right kind of creepy factor about it, even as it still hewed more to the old rubber suit aspect. But then I also spent a good chunk of the movie wondering why it went off on the tangents it did, to distracting areas no less, and began thinking of exactly how a film like this should have been scripted and laid out with its story beats. The problem, again, is that everything here is mostly decent on some level. But it’s an adaptation of a work that’s leaving the fans of said work feeling like it was done by committee that read a Cliff’s Notes version of the original work and got it confused with something else they saw.

With the structure of the two films this one essentially picks up where we left off with the way that everyone has to deal with Eren now being a Titan himself, or some kind of weirdly evolved one. There’s some potential for interesting material at first because we essentially get an on the field military tribunal to deal with him, especially as the Director gets involved in all of it and sees a way to use Eren for what he is. It’s a little roughshod when you get down to it in how it’s presented, with his friends doing what they can to save him from execution, but there’s just an unsettled feeling about all of it. For Eren, a lot of what it comes down to is realizing that he can kill a whole lot of Titans by being able to transform and he uses that as a selling point himself. There’s no surprises here and in the end we get the basic plot of the second half put into motion.

Which is a small group of survivors making their way to the hole in the Wall in order to close it up by using the dud bomb from the first film. Placing that up high so that it can bring down a lot of rubble from the top of the Wall may seem like an odd idea, especially since they’re going to use Eren in his Titan mode to climb up there with it and jam it into one of the open areas. Why not use Eren and his limited intelligence to put some other massive piece, or pieces, of rubble in front of it? Surely there’s something that would work. But that wouldn’t be dramatic. So we get this small group doing crazy stuff to try and ensure that people can return to this large area and reclaim it from the Titans, especially now that they have better luck in killing them with a little knowledge, even with the attrition that comes with it on their side.

The film works the familiar structure here for the 80-minute runtime that we get, including the recap material of the first film, and the big finale is certainly well done enough from a visual standpoint. I liked the nature of the fight that comes into it and some of the visual cues, from climbing the wall to the Colossal Titan. I even liked the “twist” as to who that Titan was as I didn’t really expect it (and I’m not sure it works logically, but that sums up most of this film event). The film captures the scale well when it pulls back enough and that’s important. It’s an element that I utterly adored in the Maze Runner films with its presentation of the walled gardens, the distance and the way it can change how people feel and interact with each other and the world.

But this film just does things that makes me want to throttle it. The first is that they take the idea that everything here is done by those in power, that they called in the Titans to do all of this and that those that can transform are “hidden” within the power structure. It completely changes the tone of it because instead of this strange and unknowable force that’s staggering around outside it instead becomes a very internal one, a very master/slave relationship that’s reinforced. The Director brings this into play several times and it’s just far too blunt and corny to really work in a good way. Especially since it’s just done in classic villain “ah, now I shall tell you my plans! muahahaha” mode. Everything instead becomes about the human villains instead of the larger threat to the world.

The other part that just kinda drove me nuts is when it has Eren spirited away by another Titan who turns out is part of a larger resistance movement to take down the ruling class of the remnants of humanity. They push this really big kind of speech angle with it as the two men talk it out and as they try to sway Eren to the cause as he’s unlike other Titans. This brings in some of the history of how mankind created the Titans and that they’re just people (is this a surprise?) and that the arrival of the Titans recently is caused by the ruling class in order to keep people fearful. This goes back to the Director and his plot, but the whole thing just feels so utterly and completely… what’s the word I’m looking for…

Pointless.

I get it when it comes to adaptations that the creative forces involved in working on it want to put their own stamp on it. I’ve certainly advocated in the past when it comes to manga/light novel adaptations into anime form that there are things these teams can do to streamline, fix and refocus a property – especially early on when the original work is trying to find itself. But the choices made within this film across the board are just perplexing. I can even work with the whole change in locale from something European to Japan because in the end it really doesn’t change too much when you get down to it. But when we get that final sequence where the gang finally gets to look beyond the wall, because nobody has ever gone up and looked?!, to see what they see with the sea, it’s just the kind of baffling logic that makes me want to bash my head against the Wall.

It’s the kind of sequence that would work nicely, even if derivative as hell, in any other movie. But for the legion of fans of the original work that wanted to see something a bit closer to the source material, it’s a baffling experience. The film does a number of things very well, but the things it does poorly outweighs it and is weighted down even more by the foundational changes that they make to it. Again, it’s the kind of thing that leaves me looking at it and already attempting to recut or reshoot it in order to fix it because there are so many glaring things with it.

In Summary:
As a whole that comes together at just a bit longer than a traditional Hollywood big budget action film with its runtime, the two-part Attack on Titan film is a curious adaptation. Part of me says that it’s exactly how Hollywood would adapt it if they gained the rights to do so. It would have these weird tangents to be bigger than it should be, it would take the focus away from where it should go, and it would radically alter characters because of the way some of them would be combined as others are written out of it. I think I just expected more and better out of a homegrown production. Not in effects, though we get some really good things here and some awful things here. But just in how the story would be presented. It’s a fascinating film to look at in a lot of ways and something that strikes out like this on its own is going to be divisive. It’ll be curious to see if the passage of time alters our view of it.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Trailer, Japanese Teaser

Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C-

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: December 6th, 2016
MSRP: $34.98
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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