I had hopes! Big hopes! There was potential, I thought, and maybe, just maybe, the filmmakers were going to show me up as an idiot by delivering a first-rate, smart Attack on Titan sequel. I was wrong. They did not.

Last month, I reviewed the first Attack on Titan movie. This month, I am back for more. The live-action movie (well, movies) are divided into two parts: Volume 1 and Volume 2. Books in Japan often do this, and filmgoers probably remember Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 for splitting one film into two. With Kill Bill, the reason was that Quentin Tarantino had too much footage and too much story for a single moviegoing experience. I’m not sure what’s going on here.

Oh right. I’m supposed to buy two tickets, I guess. You got me, movie people!

[Image via 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

The most recent live-action cinematic adaptation, Attack on Titan: End of the World, clocks in at 87 minutes, which is fine for a Woody Allen movie, but this isn’t a Woody Allen movie. On average, features are usually somewhere between 111 minutes and 119 minutes.

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Attack on Titan: End of the World feels even shorter, because the first ten minutes or so is a “Last Week on 24” style recap of what happened in the first movie. I felt like an even bigger dummy for sitting through that first flick watching the digest version roll before my eyes. So, with that, the actual running time was knocked down below 87 minutes.

[Image via 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

The second film opens with Eren captured by the Military Police Brigade. Eren gagged and in a straitjacket, because he had turned into a Titan. He escapes, because another Titan, the Armored Titan, breaks into the holding cell, kills a whole bunch of MP, and whisks Eren away. Everything goes pear-shaped, so any notion I had that the second film could further explain the superficial fascist-imagery of the first movie vanished.

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But if you’ve read the manga, you’ll be completely confused, because a completely different character is the Armored Titan than in the movie. (Here, it’s one of the folks created just for the film.) During this sequence, the first movie’s horrible musical score returns. In one segment, in a matter of minutes, we go from choir music to industrial rock music to violins. That sums up the entire viewing experience. It’s disjointed.

[Image via 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

Eren wakes up in a futuristic white room with a Wurlitzer Jukebox, playing the Skeeter Davis song, “The End of the World.” Subtle! The scene is actually interestingly done, if I hadn’t spent a few moments wondering if I had actually dozed off to sleep and woken up in another movie. Which isn’t a bad thing. At this point, I was hoping that would happen.

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Here, Eren is greeted by Shikishima, one of the movie’s new characters, who carries a bottle of champagne, flips on an Apple TV remote, and shows Eren how the U.S. Government created the Titans. Oh, did I mention that both characters suddenly change into white linen shirts and slacks and are sitting on sun chairs in a sand covered room? They are.

Seeing how the filmmakers kept screwing up regular Attack on Titan, I was all ready for a detour into bizarro Attack on Titan. But, like that, we returned to the movie’s familiar awfulness.

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[Image via 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

Shikishima has a bonkers idea that they can get excavate an American Military bomb and then blow up the kingdom’s inner walls to lure the Titans into the middle so then the humans could escape. Or something. Eren and his buddies wanted to use the bomb to cause an explosion that would create enough rubble to fix the outer wall’s hole.

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[Image via 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

Eren and Shikishima roll up in a tank, surprising the other Survey Corps. and the general viewing public. Shikishima’s posse wields machine guns and bazookas, which don’t appear in the manga and the anime because both go against the parameters of Attack on Titan. But the movie is different, because the Titans began attacking in our present day—seen in the Apple TV news footage of the Gulf War or the CCTV footage showing a Japanese schoolgirl turning into a Titan at a convenience store. While the manga and the anime are set over a thousand years in the past, the movie is set in the future.

The rest of the movie consists of characters from the first movie nobody cares about either bickering or dying (or both), explosions, scenes that drag on and should have never made it out of the editing room, and silly action movie conventions, such as countdown timers and people who obstruct a line of fire, characters you thought were dead suddenly return, et cetera, et cetera.

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[Image via 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

If this would have been a single film, instead of dual volumes, it probably would’ve been a better one. Scenes that are repetitive or drag, and which pepper The End of the World, could’ve been cut, and the movie could’ve built towards something, instead of spending valuable screentime flashing back to scenes in the first movie, because we saw it a month ago.

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Okay, so they’re straying from the source material. Fine. But dammit, if you are going to do that, do it well. The filmmakers didn’t. Bad acting and ludicrous plot elements make it impossible to ever really get into the movie. Here, there’s a series of set pieces strung together.

[Image via 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

The Titan fighting in the last movie felt refreshing, but here, there are barely any smaller-sized Titans, so watching massive Titan fight after massive Titan fight didn’t feel exhausting, but dull. That’s probably this movie’s biggest crime. It’s boring. The only thing that was at stake was the filmmaker’s desire to create a running time long enough to justify the second film.

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[Image via 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

This was all unnecessary. Instead of making two shitty movies, which require me to leave my house twice and buy two tickets, they could make one decent movie, sparing themselves of internet vitriol and damage to Attack on Titan’s good name. Better yet, they could’ve just made one terrible movie and saved themselves twice the terrible reviews. I know nobody sets out to make something awful, but the decision to divide the films not only feels like a cash grab, but resulted in two stilted pictures that might’ve flowed better as one.

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There is one redeeming element to the second film: the ending theme song. The popular Japanese group Sekai no Owari returns with a new tune, “SOS,” which is vastly superior to the tune they recorded for the first picture. Too bad the filmmakers weren’t able to make similar improvements. Or any improvements.

[Image via 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

Attack on Titan: End of the World is now playing in Japan.

To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter@Brian_Ashcraft.

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