Tuesday, March 9

Evangelion the Movie 2.0 / ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版: 破 review

I manage to catch this movie in full screen glory finally. What can I say?

The action sequences were a sight to behold on big screen, it draws the audience in by sheer kinetic force and epic that TV budget won't allow even with special cut editions. Highlight of the scenes were few, this movie alone have 5 "shitos"/Angel in dizzying pace with grandiose action sequences. I voted the entry scene of EVA -02 as the best, the camera actually followed Asuka from HALO jump while combating the Angel on the ground with the rest of cast gawking. Smooth scene transition were pleasing and the theme especially the creepy children song while infected EVA-03 was destroyed is quite fitting if unsettling. The creators want to emphasize again and again, the sheer inhumane aspect of the golems by the combat sequences that is not mechanical in exposition and resolution. Very organic, very human and I still remember the guts of infected EVA-03 were fling around like a lasso by berserk EVA-01 in orgy of blood. It is like the Unit-01 was celebrating victory and making example of the fallen enemy in old time fashion of battle trophy aspect. Perhaps it is a statement of mankind lust of violence and war, captured in organic golems of EVAs as form of parody? Or commentary on our propensity for violence against our own kind? Visually the movie is a feast, nitpickers can pinpoint various activities in the scenes especially the quiet city scenes. The movie even updated with current sensibilities, one major scene depicting the destruction of ocean due to Second Impact and steps to preserve the world's biosphere which might find a strong chord with people like Al Gore.

Characterization however took a step backward. What make Evangelion rocks is the utter darkness of the dramatis personae in the original TV series. The characters were so screwed up that it serves as mirror or Pandora like vista of humanity through their words and actions. Who can forget chilling gradual destruction of Asuka or frustrating mental block of Shinji in the original for example? That's what make NGE memorable and equally painful or joyous to watch, depending on the audience disposition. This is the reason why it stays on memory on so many fans since 1995. The movie however mellow down the characters considerably, Rei suddenly is more emotional, Asuka is not even forceful enough and Shinji appears to be more normal instead of being a source of emotional gamut for the audience to explore themselves. Ironically what makes the characterization flat is how normal they are. Which is weird! The titans of character study that is NGE now becoming too human, too normal. What is the point of the story if they too easy to be deconstructed? Evangelion story is so personal, so intimate that any normal characters will look out of place in the narrative. This is how I felt and reflect about the movie characters.

Mari Illustrious reminds me of Code Geass character for some reason. I couldn't finger it which one specifically but the feel is strongly there. She is considered as a yandere or crazy bitch type of stereotype, during her combat she is reckless to the point of suicidal. Yet she is short sighted and have a fetish for LCL. A juxtaposition of character shortcomings with shining, insanely courageous spirit in one package. This movie is merely an introduction of Mari, her full potential is yet to be realized. The only character that is still relatively intact from original is Gendo Ikari, possessing the arrogant smirk and manipulative personality that is just as riveting as the original Gendo. However one side note here, the Japanese voice actor for Kaji needs to work more on his English. The 5 seconds when Kaji supposedly able to converse fluently in strong, confident English just jizzed out badly with horrific Engrish. It singlehandedly undermined and destroyed the character as someone to be taken seriously in the film. Other important side characters like Aida and Hikari were sidelined very precipitously due to space constraint.

The movie is very impressive in visual but runs short on characterization which is the real core of Evangelion. Hopefully the makers of the film remember it when they finishing up the movies later. Otherwise, the movies will become just a cash cow that did not really transcend the appeal of the franchise and be forgotten in few years time. But it is still a momentous movie to be seen on big screen for sure. Big event anime movies are rare anyway.

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