The live action Attack on Titan duology was the most expensive comedy ever made. That’s my final interpretation on this; it’s the only conclusion that makes any sense to me. Some enterprising producer in Japan thought Hajime Isayama’s tale would make perfect fodder for some experimental, avante garde, special effects laden farce of, uh, titan-sized proportions.
And by God, it works.
This live-action adaptation crossed the Rubicon into Dum-Dum Town not even five minutes into part one. The only reasonable course of action is to accept it. Fear not, fellow fanboys and fangirls; there is no need to weep into your $40 Scout Regiment hoodies. Lightening up a little was precisely what this very, very serious franchise needed. I humbly suggest that the AoT fandom embrace the cult classic drinking game masterpiece status these two films will surely attain once they become available on Netflix. Trust me; we will all be happier for it in the long run. The anime, manga, Marvel crossover and that whacky junior high adventure are still around for your reading and viewing pleasures.
Take for instance, Satomi Ishihara, the actress who plays Hange Zoë with an infectiously crazy gusto. She alone among the cast seems to realize exactly what kind of movie this is, and she acquits herself admirably. Ishihara is absolute joy to watch and even manages to stay true to the character of Hange. She would fit right in with an actually good version of a live-action AoT without having to change any aspect of her performance.
On a more tragic and spoilerific note, one of the characters invented for the film whom I liked a great deal didn’t make it. Sannagi, played by Satoru Matsuo, is big dude with a giant axe who makes weird howler monkey noises when in combat and possesses a shocking degree of mobility for a guy his size. Charming, immensely likeable and not completely devoid of personality, he goes out in a blaze of glory that is both gut-bustlingly hilarious and awe-inspiringly badass. Sannagi gets shot 86 billion times with assault rifle rounds while trying to use his Omni-directional Mobility Gear to pull down a ruined tower to cover the escape of the people who get to live. Some not-as-good-as-they-initially-seemed rebels pump this guy with bullets for a solid minute and make zero effort to get out from under the slowly falling tower despite knowing exactly what Sannagi is trying to do. The tower lands on an explosives-laden truck and they all die in a fireball so huge you think director Shinji Higuchi might have been trying to make some sort of clever point about unreasonably massive movie explosions.
I dislocated three ribs and ruptured my spleen after witnessing that glory. Rest in peace, Sannagi.
Bad guys turn into bad-er guys. A dude takes four arrows to the throat and transforms into the Colossal Titan while in freefall. Not Captain Levi (Hiroki Hasegawa) maybe is or is not Eren’s previously unaddressed long-lost brother, whom we see in a flashback that receives no payoff. Titans punch each other. One titan kills another titan by spiking a reactivated aircraft bomb into his mouth. Eren and Mikasa get to see the ocean from atop the wall and we are supposed to accept that as a happy ending.
It’s all so glorious and maddening. It’s not the Attack on Titan adaptation any of us wanted, but we would be fools to not to cherish it. Let the drinking games commence.