Sunday, July 29, 2012

Move Review: Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone

So, last summer (thanks to the local college library) I was finally able to see Neon Genesis Evangelion and, well, I didn't really like it. I seem to fall into the group of people that prefer RahXephon and Eureka Seven when it comes to big mecha stories and I'm okay with that. So why watch the rebuild films? Well, actually I already had a copy of the second film (which I'll explain more when I actually get to that one) and the rebuild films have apparently done some parts of the series very differently so I was curious that perhaps a slightly less "emo" Eva would be more to my tastes. The first film only covers the first six episodes so there's nothing new here yet but does it at least do a good job of introducing the series and can it stand on it's own?

Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone

Summary: 15 years after the Second Impact, where an object from space hit Antarctica hard enough to tilt the Earth's axis and the resulting disaster kills half of the people on Earth, Shinji Ikari has been called by his father to his workplace, the mysterious organization called Nerv which seems to exist outside the control of any governmental agency. There he learns that there are strange aliens, called angels, attacking Earth and for some reason (as of yet unexplained) he's one of the few people who can pilot the gigantic mechas called Evas and fight off the angels. And thus the fate of the Earth rest in the hands of this mentally unstable teenaged boy and in the hands of quiet, mysterious girl named Rei who is almost as odd as the angels themselves.

The Good: The one big difference from the tv series I noticed was Misato showing Shinji the real reason Nerv exists which I thought was an interesting choice and that should certainly effect Shinji later on. Other than that the movie is a straightforward adaptation of the first six episodes and, like at this point in the original story, I don't mind Shinji and still find Rei confusing but not so much that I couldn't enjoy the movie. I had actually forgotten how much I liked Misato in the early part of the story (I just didn't like any of the characters by the end of the tv series, not just her in particular) and I'm really curious to see how they change differently in this version.

The Bad: My brother was half watching this movie along with me and, since he normally asks a lot of questions about movies, I was trying to figure out how to explain various parts of the movie and found that it's really hard to do and nigh impossible with just the information given in this movie. Sure you can see that Shinji has problems with his father and people can infer that he has abandonment issues but the movie didn't address why those exist. The movie did say why the angels are targeting Nerv all the time but other than that there was barely any world building and the setting should be important to every story. Heck, that summary I posted makes use of one or two details that I learned in the tv series, they never say what the second impact actually was and I think by this point it's clear that this movie really isn't a good introduction to the franchise if you don't want your viewers to be lost. Perhaps once the series is over I'll have a different opinion on it, I certainly hope so in any case, but this movie cannot stand completely on it's own and that's not a good thing. 

The Audio: This time around I decided to listen to the English dub (which I believe brings back the original dub cast for almost, if not all, of the roles) and it was a very solid dub. I had heard one or two clips of Spike Spencer's Shinji before which sounded iffy but here he certainly sounds like a 14 year old boy and the rest of the cast also sounds appropriate for their roles. There were one or two spots for many of the characters were they sounded a bit odd, not surprising considering how many years it's been since the original show was dubbed, but I have no problems with recommending the English dub.

The Visuals: I had the pleasure of watching the DVD version of this on our new HD tv where it looked amazingly good (I don't believe our accompanying new blu-ray player upscales DVDs but I could be wrong and that could've contributed). As with the rest of the story, there was barely anything new on screen but what was there looked good. There was some CGI used for the angels but it was well done, the lines on everything were crisp and the animation all looked fine. Since I'm already familiar with what the story should look like there's not really much to say except that it was a very good update in that area.

So, as the story currently stands, you can't watch just the first film and expect a comprehensible story that will stand on it's own which is a bit of a problem. Even though it's a series of movies, movies are supposed to be able to stand and make sense on their own (which I think is doubly important given how long the gap between some of the movies has been, do they even have a release date for the third one yet?). As mentioned earlier I already have a copy of the second film so I'll be checking that out but if it wasn't for that I wouldn't feel terribly motivated to continue on.

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