Attack On Titan: The Roar Of Awakening


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Attack On Titan: The Roar Of Awakening
"Whilst the titans themselves are cartoonish grotesques, scenes soaked in blood and gore still manage to disturb."

If you go into this film unprepared, you will be completely lost.

Attack On Titan is a television series based on Hajime Isayama's popular manga. This is its second season, the episodes brought together into a two hour film. The altered format means that there's a dramatic action scene every 15 minutes. Its positioning within a wider context means that knowledge of earlier events is largely assumed (there's a very quick precis at the start) whilst some plot developments are clearly present to prepare for future events not arrived at in this narrative. the result is profoundly disorientating, and the frequency with which characters themselves say the events around them make no sense does little to help. It is therefore best to set aside concerns about plot (unless you're already steeped in series lore) and concentrate instead on the superb animation, the characterisation and the bloody violence.

The setting is a land where humanity is on the brink of extinction, with people hiding inside walled cities to protect themselves from marauding titans (giant, sometimes mutated humanoids who are apparently steam-powered and who love snacking on puny humans). The principal protagonists are a boy called Eren (Y√Ľki Kaji), his adopted sister Mikasa and their friend Armin; their home town being destroyed, they find a place in an elite corps of soldiers trying to fight back. Most of these are teenagers; what adults we see are occupied with domestic work or religion, and only the fear of titans which they sometimes express does anything to dispel the illusion that this is actually just a game the young people are playing. The situation is complicated by the fact that some titans can take human form, and there are spies within the group aiding the enemy.

Although few of the characters get much in the way of introduction and the dialogue is often delivered in the frenetic style beloved of Japanese teenagers, it doesn't take long to get to know them and understand something of their concerns. The expressive animation giving them life is still more effective when it comes to the action scenes, which share that frantic pace, with frequent cuts, but communicate a lot even when images appear on the screen too briefly to be fully recognised by the conscious mind. Whilst the titans themselves are cartoonish grotesques, scenes soaked in blood and gore still manage to disturb, effectively reaching the emotions rather than relying on the imagination of the viewer to elicit real horror.

This isn't a film that's intended to be realistic, yet it still manages to thrill. The story suffers somewhat from its episodic shape but it's easy enough to root for the (literally) little guys up against monsters, and although the revelations that arrive at the end are neither as surprising nor as profound as the writers seem to expect, there's enough here to satisfy the target audience. It's a production well suited to the big screen and likely to be very much enjoyed there.

Coming to selected cinemas in UK & Ireland for one-night-only on 21st February 2018. Plus, there'll be a very special screening of the film as part of the Glasgow Film Festival on 1st March 2018.

Reviewed on: 17 Feb 2018
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Survey Corps members are faced with a second Titan invasion.

Director: Masashi Koizuka

Writer: Hajime Isayama, Yasuko Kobayashi

Starring: Yuki Kaji, Yu Ishikawa, Hiroshi Kamiya

Year: 2018

Runtime: 120 minutes

Country: Japan


Glasgow 2018

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