Attack on Titan: Part 1 (15) | Close-Up Film Review


Dir. Shinji Higuchi, Japan, 2015, 98 mins

Cast: Haruma Miura, Kiko Mizuhara, Kanata Hongo, Shiro Sagisu

One of the most highly anticipated releases of the year finally arrives into UK cinemas with the live-action adaptation of easily one of the biggest anime series since Death Note, Attack on Titan. If you’ve never heard of either of this Japanese anime and manga series, then I definitely recommend using your Netflix account to binge watch the entirety of both as you’ve been missing out on some fantastic work over the last 5 years. And with how culturally progressive these franchises are, Hollywood has already snapped up the rights to create American versions of these beloved but perplexing stories. It’s fantastic to see the amount of Asian films being given UK releases increasing over the past few years and with the amount of fans that reside in the UK increasing too, it makes sense for popular animes, mangas, TV shows and even just popular folklore to be turned into massive film productions that push Japanese cinema into the Hollywood heights territory. And with the amount of money spent on the advertising campaign, the film seems more in the limelight then previous films released this year, certainly one that stands at the forefront of what most fans are anticipating,

Split into two parts, with both being released in the UK at the same time, this review will cover only the first part. With only a handful of people in the audience, many of whom were fellow critics and die-hard fans, it was hard to believe that so few people would want to be the first to see it. And it should be an interesting read on the figures that will be populated at the end of the week of the amount of fans, both new and old, would pay to see it in their local multiplexes. Certainly with the amount of trailers, advertisements and hype, the film should see a considerable return on this massive scale production and should warrant continuations of the series with the new series of the anime soon to be released. Before we get into the story and plot, bear in mind it’s complex, has several plot threads and moments that spiral out of control into Stephen King territory; with Sam Raimi levels of gore and a hint of Jason Blum-like outlandishness that is hard to put into writing.

The story begins with a tale of how 100 years ago, huge human-like creatures called Titans appeared and destroyed most of humanity, with the last survivors creating giant walls to stop them from killing anymore people. 100 years later the civilisation is growing, peaceful in their contained environment and starting to lose their belief in the Titans even existing. The narrative focuses on Eren Yeager, Armin Arlert and Mikasa Ackerman as they long to leave the walls to see the outside world. After attempting to break out, a sudden attack on a wall by a Colossal Titan, leaves a hole in which smaller Titans enter and begin to kill and eat everyone in sight. Two years after this event, a Scouting Regiment is formed with Eren and Armin being a part of this squad following the death of Mikasa. With a group of other survivors from the inner sections of the city surrounded by the wall, they embark on a mission to plant a bomb at the top of the wall above the hole to cause an explosion that causes the wall to drop down, thus covering the hole. The mission doesn’t go to plan for the group, with many being picked off by the larger groups of Titans one-by-one through horrible deaths and limbs being pulled apart and ate. With the help of two wayward soldiers, the group find themselves defeating some of the Titans but only until a new ally appears, does it seem as though the plan might work.

At least the odd use of CGI might be off-putting for some viewers with the Titans being superimposed humans in make-up, but once that is accepted, the blend of genres that the film conveys always keeps a great fast pace, with individual performances capturing the intensity of the battles along with the farce of what they are up against. It could have easily melted into a boring, strict adaptation, but instead focuses on the over-the-top nature of Attack on Titan and clearly knows its audience well but keeping several key moments from the anime included. The humour as well plays a fantastic role of ensuring it isn’t seen as too serious and at points is needed to cut the tension of Eren’s journey throughout the film. And his journey is a pretty exciting one considering the amount of times the guy has been metaphorically shat on.

Review by Simon Childs