Monday, June 21, 2010

Picture Heavy Review: Rebuild of Evangelion 2

As per usual, no spoilers, video below use materials from the first title and trailer material, one of the best edited fan AMV I have ever seen. 

ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版: 破/Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance, 2009, Studio Khara, KlockWorx and Gainax, Japan, 112min

When we first Rebuild movie was released in 2007, it had largely aesthetic differences compared to the original TV series it was based on, only some minor details of the plot have been altered. Hence the initial reaction to number two was lukewarm at best for something in anticipation of something that equals flogging a dead horse. It turns out that we are in for a surprise, in a good way.

The second set of the tetralogy continues Jo-ha-kyū idea well. The previous title was a mere prelude; this is the most important middle piece. The movies opens with some scenes in hilarious Engrish, a new enemy and the introduction of a new character.

Wild calico has fresh blood on her face all the time

Yup, the much hyped new girl Mary debut quite early on and would appear a few more times. Her character is well written, attractive and life-like, save for the unsolved mysteries of her true motives. Without spoiling anyone, the most to be said is that she does not contribute to the plot line in a major way, however she is earmarked to take a more important role in the next title. The story is to go in a very different path while reusing a lot of the old elements. Some classic scenes appear again, but with a different outcome.

Familiar elevator huh?
Just like the old times...

The plot aside, there is also some drastic changes to the personalities of many characters. Unlike the TV version where everyone appears psychologically disturbed, they are all of sound mind. Most characters kept their respective back-story and weaknesses, however their new portrayal is definitely more positive and likable.

Previously unthinkable complexion
Even the father and son are made more loving

Animation is still top notch, with plenty of high quality CGI while the characteristic cine-film look is preserved, this is especially difficult given a lot of the original cellulose records were lost and some takes needed to be redrawn entirely. The music is deserves some detailed discussion, and there will be a separate post for it.

Homage to the Unit 05-13 airdrop scene
This angel is original and appeared in the trailers, postmodern-ish designed

Some may criticise the pacing, it starts off pretty action-heavy and fast, then it slows down for about 40 minutes, only to get really fast-faced again towards the end. Compared to the first movie which covers roughly episode 1 to 7, the sequel has to tell most if not all the story between episode 8-19 as well as original content, parts of the old story had to be omitted, which more or less dilutes the character progression, hence it is mandatory to take your previous experience of Evangelion to make the most of the on-screen development. Not the best solution but understandable given the time constraints. My major complaint goes to the excessive level of fan service. Gainax is historically unapologetic with nudity, but to have fan service in such a major production seems, pretty childish at least.

The strategically placed can is Yebisu, really good beer in case you have not had it already.

I also feel that religious imagery has been overused, given the producer's own admission that the use of Judeo-Christian symbolism is mostly because it "looks good". Well a pinch of salt is tasty, a tablespoon of it would be revolting.
The halo straight out of 16th century painting.
Now there are four of them, I can doodle better than this.

Verdict: A well directed sequel that did not end up as a cheap remake, nevertheless it will only appeal to the existing fan base. If you are new to the franchise, I would recommend you to at least read the official manga before digging in.


A short list of movies that I have managed to catch up with:

Gran Torino: As good as Hollywood fantasies will ever get.
12 Angry Men (1957): Brilliant, just brilliant, the sort of character development that modern films lack so much of. 
Night at the Museum 2: Amy Adams = Hot, everybody else = meh
The Boat that Rocked: LOL