This post will contain massive spoilers about this movie. Long story short? Extremely disappointing.
I’ve watched the Neon Genesis Evangelion series many times, I own it as a set of individual DVDs before they released a smaller box for all of them together. As such, I was very excited with the ending of the 2nd Rebuild of Evangelion movie, it was throwing us both off-course in what was happening, and when it was happening. I expected we’ll get new content, unlike what we’ve seen in the anime – so after we went through 1.9 movies’ worth of old content we’d finally get new content!
Well, there’s an idiom where I live that says that as big your expectations, the disappointment are just as big, and it couldn’t be more true than what I think of this movie. Again, massive spoilers ahead. This won’t be a review, more my thoughts on the movie and thoughts arising after watching the movie. If you look for an actual review, you should look elsewhere – the goal here is to lead to an interesting conversation.
The movie pick up in space, where Asuka and Mari pick up a container, get attacked by an angel, and get saved by what we discover is within the container – EVA 01. We get back to earth, and we have no idea what is happening. We see Shinji, he’s not treated well, and he can’t understand why, and we can’t either. If there are two things that the movie does well, then one of them is being a study on disorientation – what is happening? Why is it happening? Where are we?
It goes beyond what is going with Shinji and us being put in the same position as him – as people who don’t understand where the world is and how it got there – I feel that this is disorientation aimed at the movie goers. And doubly so for people who’ve watched the original series before. The director drags things as long as possible – no reason to do it to Shinji, but there are reasons to do it to us. We’re left in the dark, then when we finally get told what is happening, it doesn’t come as knowledge shining into the darkness of the unknown, but as a light grenade that blinds us even farther.
What do you mean 14 years has passed? Why do you mean Misato is leading an anti-NERV organization? What the heck is going on here?
The way I often described the original series is that things are normal, then BAM, you get hit on the head with a piece of mystery, then things slow down once more and BAM! again, and the time between the punches thrown at us gets shorter and shorter until we’re assailed by an endless barrage of hard-hitting emotional moments and/or inscrutable mysteries.
But that feeling is only worthy as a supplement to what happens later, as a side-dish for an engaging story. And this is lacking here. I may have been somewhat judgmental, but by the time “Wunder”, the ship leading Wille, Misato’s anti-NERV organization had turned into a giant mecha-albatross-whale that can fly, I was thinking to myself, “Could it be, did Evangelion just literally jump the shark?” and after I’ve finished watching the film with regards to the above about the director’s goal of disorienting the movie-viewers purposefully, I can’t help but think we’re getting trolled, for “artistic” reasons – just like in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya‘s 2nd season the “Endless Eight” happened – the characters were stuck in an 8-week long time-loop, and we as the viewers got 8 episodes covering it, rather than wrap it up in 2-3 episodes. But “artistic” reasons again should serve to highlight what is there, not supplant it.
14 years had passed, not only nearly all the characters look the same (making the “EVA pilots don’t age” “BAM” not nearly as impressive), but the characters also didn’t change their personalities – Gendo is still Gendo, Rei is obviously a blank slate, Fuyutsuki (which should be ancient right now and isn’t) is still unsure about what the right thing to do is. The only character who really seems to have undergone any changes – and this in a span of 14 years where the world had undergone an apocalypse and everything got turned on its head is Misato – and this with her having about 5 lines in the movie, total. Why did we skip 14 years? Just to disorient the viewer, those 14 years are inconsequential. Only existing as an excuse for Wille to have the time to set up their forces, really.
Mari Illustrious Makinami – Everyone was excited about her originally – a new character injected into the world of Evangelion, which could change the story. Well… thus far she’s done nothing. She has a few lines, she sounds a bit cool in the 2nd film, but overall everything she does fits the role of a forgettable no-name stunt who just stands in, not a named character with so much promotional material.
This was easier to accept in the first two films which had tread material already covered (though then again, wasn’t the whole point to tell the story again, which would permit things to be changed?) – but in this movie there is no excuse. The only reason I can think for this is that true to Evangelion’s series, the movie is somewhat of a deconstruction piece. Mari’s role in the series is to be us – us who thought “Man, if only I were in the show, look what a cool role I’d have.” but no, the role we’d have is that of a bystander, who is ever at the vicinity of the main characters.
And also, Shinji is the one we’re made to sympathize with. Weak, stupid Shinji. Shinji who is a human, just like you and I, who’s thrown into a mess and acts the only way he can, the way we’d expect him to.
The movie’s graphics are top-notch, and I’m sure we can find symbolism everywhere – such as Shinji’s room’s floor being unrelieved red, with him stepping over the blood of the world, hiding from it on his bed. The movie’s name is especially apt – Shinji wants to re-do, he wants to undo destroying the world and recreate it. But he cannot, and in his actions, well, he does “redo”, but the exact thing he doesn’t want to – he brings the very same apocalypse the previous movie ended with all over again.
Now, I’ve loved The Matrix Reloaded, unlike many people, there was a lot going on, you could tell there was a lot going behind the scenes, and reading some explanations of the symbolism in the movie had left me amazed. But the movie stood well enough on its own. Here, this movie doesn’t. It may sound from the above as if a lot of stuff happened, but not really. Aside from the “Study in Disorientation” which would indeed take time to affect us (and which I’m not sure is worthy of being there), the whole movie feels as an overblown anime episode. I have a hard time justifying the content in this movie taking much more than 30 minutes. Certainly not an hour and a half.
Conclusion: The movie is pretty. The movie passes well the feeling of disorientation, but that feels more as an attempt to “troll” and play with the movie viewer than something that advances the story. The movie sins by wasting your time as a viewer, by not giving you enough content, by not advancing the character-building, the action, or the story enough in the time it is given.
As hard as it is to say, if this weren’t the third movie out of four, I’d tell you it’s entirely skippable. How I wish they could re-do.
This movie is scored 4.5/10, and certainly does not live up to my expectations – not only is it not a good Evangelion film, I feel it’s not a good film at all. While it may have succeeded at some of the things it tried to accomplish, we can question whether those things were worth accomplishing to begin with.
- Rebuild of Evangelion 3.33: You can (not) redo Anime review! (voltrebellion.wordpress.com)
- Evangelion 3.33 (themoviefilmreview.wordpress.com)
- Evangelion and the Power of Fandom (animetantrums.wordpress.com)