To the delight and great confusion, several theater goers across the nation were treated to a theatrical release of the newest Evangelion rebuild flick. Randy and I went to our local Lakeline Alamo Drafthouse to catch it. Before we dive into that, though, let’s catch up on what the rebuilds are. I’ll keep this spoiler free at first, though there will be a cut where spoilers will be touched on.
The rebuild movies aren’t exactly a retelling of the original anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion. They initially do share a lot of the same stories and trappings in the first of the planned four movies, but with each movie, things become very progressively different. Characters are changed for the better, new characters are introduced, roles are changed… As they go on, things start differing. The changes start with minor things here or there, and then things get more and more crazy. The premise of both the anime and the newer rebuilds are the same: Humanity is on it’s last legs, with NERV serving as protectors. Against it? A series of increasingly powerful beings called Angels who intend to breach NERV headquarters and wipe out the last defense of humanity. Between NERV and the Angels are Evangelions; massive bipedal beings that at first seem to be giant robots. But, as is the case with Evangelion, things aren’t what they appear to be at first glance. Or second. Or third.
The fact this is the third movie should automatically imply that you should see the first two before this one. However, if you do want to enjoy the craziness that is Evangelion, I will stress that previous sentence. With 72 point bolded underlined font. Even among my friends, who have seen the previous two movies, there were serious conversation points and confusion when we walked out of the theater. This brings to light one of the biggest weakness of this particular part of the rebuild — if you haven’t seen the anime, there are a lot of finer points that will be missed. It doesn’t make or break the story, but having seen the anime, I can see that there was a lot of things they touched on that were assumed to have been previously known. This is possibly it’s biggest weak point–the rebuilds up until now have been fairly good at being standalone creations. As it is, You Can (Not) Redo is intentionally confusing due to it’s plot set-up which I’ll dive into later (spoilers~). It’s still enjoyable without the knowledge of the anime, it’ll just leave some more open points in the plot.
Graphically, the movie is a damned masterpiece. The color palette is always a great fit to what’s going on in the movie. The action scenes are easy to follow and incredibly enjoyable to watch– if you’re a fan of giant mechs duking it out with supernatural and mythical influences changing the course of the battle, this movie is for you. It certainly nails the size and scope of the battles just fine. Even outside of the action scenes,the movie is fun to watch.
By far, the biggest issue with this iteration is that the lack of concrete answers may through some people off. Even those that have seen the past two rebuilds will find themselves confused at parts; while this is intentional as a device to help put you in Shinji Ikari’s shoes, it tends to obfuscate way more than it should.
If you do have any interest in Evangelion but are daunted by the anime, the rebuilds are a perfect place to jump in. Beware though; not everything will be explained easily and it may take additional time and viewings to let everything sink in. There will be some thought and deliberation to decipher what the movie means to you.
And now, spoilers past this point. I won’t be detailing out major plot elements, but I may touch on some things that are plot relevant, at least.
In the movie, pilot of EVA Unit-01 Shinji Ikari is placed in a world that has moved on without him for 14 years. Resulting from this, both you and Shinji are confused as the movie does a good job of making you feel as lost as he is. This is something I liked, as it helps you get behind his head, but this sort of thing could be a turnoff to some folks. After spending 14 years isolated in EVA unit 01, the world does seem to have aged appropriately. Characters seem fleshed out and fourteen years older than when we last saw them. The world certainly has had shit move on without Shinji around, and often for the worse. It’s never explained as to how Shinji ended up in stasis for 14 years, although the answer is apparent if you look to what happened in the anime. The rebuilds, which have been pretty good at standing on their own until now are suddenly leaving out so many small, delicious details up to prior knowledge was a little bit of a let down.
Visually, the world seems damaged beyond repair from the events of Evangelion 2.22; the world is vastly destroyed, and the only remnants of humanity we see are NERV.. and the splinter faction named Wille consisting of former NERV members and created to take down NERV. It’s obvious something HUGE went down, but we don’t even get a glimpse or hint as to what events happened. As one of the major departures from the anime, this conflict is something I would love to see more of–especially any details regarding the creation of the AAA WUNDER, Wille’s flagship. As someone with a major affinity for unique mechanical design, I absolutely loved the Wunder, which was a massive floating ariship with somewhat dubious origins and an even more dubious power source.
As the movie goes on, it does at least clearly state each organization’s intent, and we get some great resolutions concerning that as people make their moves. Up until now, it’s been rather shadowy, so seeing the two organizations make moves so out in the open was a breath of fresh air in a series where everyone has two or three secret agendas.
With that said, I would love to hear from anybody else who has seen it! Part of the fun of Evangelion is discussing each person’s take on it, as the creators give you a great big canvass and plenty of smaller answers to piece together to make your own interpretation of it.by