Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why Rebuild of Evangelion 2 sucks: This will (Not) be short

Sorry this is late! I've had a lot of things going on, and I've still got a lot of kinks to work out. Again, I apologize for the tardiness! I'll try to prevent this in the future. 

Alright. Now on to the good stuff.
This is going to be long and full of spoilers for those of you who haven't seen either the original series or Rebuld, so I will put it under a jump break.

 Remakes. Reboots. Re-imaginings. Adaptations. Double-dipping, updating, refreshing, re-releventizing, regurgitating, whoring out, whatever you want to call it, the entertainment industry is steeped in it. Personally, I'm not against the idea itself; sometimes, a a story could benefit from being retold to a new audience, or technological advancements could help bring the work closer to the original artistic vision.
More often though, it's a quick cash grab. A safe investment with a built-in audience. With that in mind, it can be very tempting to alter the source material to increase marketability. In extreme cases, it's to the detriment to all else in the movie, robbing it of any artistic integrity it may have once had.
Neon Genesis Evangelion Rebuild 2.22: You can (Not) Advance is a textbook example of this.
Not pictured: The sock puppets
When the Rebuild movies were first announced, we were promised a retake on the classic NGE series. Same story, condensed into three full-length movies, with a massive budget. On paper, this is a fantastic idea! The story, originally, was structurally and thematically sound. The only things fundamentally wrong with it were it's moderate pacing issues, and how the production values were seriously beginning to show their age, especially on the later episodes of the series where their infamous lack of budget became more and more apparent.
The first movie; Neon Genesis Evangelion: 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone came out shortly thereafter, and it was good! They covered a good portion of the original material, it looked and sounded absolutely amazing, it ran at a good pace and covered a full story arc.
And then, after a couple long years, the second movie came out.
Now, 2.22 isn't completely devoid of merit. Once again, it looks and sounds pretty darned good. The animation and art direction is absolutely amazing, the sound design is a seriously under-appreciated facet of both movies, I think. The direction is also top-notch, with the possible exception of a few scenes of giant mech action. More about that later.
The big problem with this movie is the story, or rather, how and why it deviates from the original story.
The biggest and most flagrant example of this is the new character: Mari Illustrious Makinami.
The movie makes absolutely massive concessions for her, a few examples of which lead to giant plot holes, while her role itself is entirely superfluous and unnecessary.
In the movie, there is a piece of paper called the Vatican Treaty. This treaty prevents any single country from owning and operating more than 3 Eva units at one time, presumably to prevent a second Cold War, which itself is understandable, were it not for the gigantic monsters of exponentially increasing death that Tokyo-3 needs to defend itself from every other week or so.
So, Japan has three fully functioning, readily available Eva units. They decide to bring in and test a forth. Why? Never explained. So they take Asuka's Eva and put it into deep freeze. Asuka, it is worth noting, is, at that point in the movie, the most skilled Eva pilot quite possibly in the whole world, and she and her eva had only just arrived in Japan. Asuka herself is chosen to pilot the fourth Eva. Why? Again, not explained. So, predictably, the fourth Eva unit goes rogue, and Shinji is sent out to fight it. Just Shinji. Rei sits around and does nothing. Why? No reason!
By comparison, in the original series, the Vatican Treaty doesn't exist. They bring in the fourth Eva because the Angels are seriously beginning to ramp up their efforts and NERV desperately needs to grow their ranks. The fourth child is Toji, a character that's been in the series, though relegated to a minor role since the series began. The Eva goes rogue, and all three Evas, Shinji, Rei, and Asuka are sent out to fight it. The end result in both the movie and the series is the same; Shinji's Eva, against Shinji's will, kills the fourth Eva and severely wounds the pilot inside. In the series, it's a logical progression of events that results in the furthering of Shinji as a character. In the movie, this is all build-up so Mari can pilot Asuka's Eva in the final act, which, itself, is completely pointless.
Hey kid! Want some candy?
In the movie version of that scene, Rei and Mari are fighting an Angel, when Rei decides to sacrifice herself in a vain attempt to stop the angel. Shinji, meanwhile, is throwing a tantrum over being forced to almost kill someone, and hides away in a designated shelter, which ends up being caught in the crossfire. Mari's Eva just happens to crash into the shelter Shinji just happens to be in, which also just happens to be completely empty except for him. She then gives Shinji a speech (what the angel is doing this entire time is anyone's guess), and Shinji decides finally to go back and pilot his Eva, saving the day.
Hey kid! Want some candy?
Again, by comparison, in the show, Asuka's Eva's severed head lands in Shinji's shelter, which is full of people. He's caught up in the mob fleeing to safety, where he runs into Kaji, another well-established character both in the series and the movie up to that point, who gives him the exact same speech with the exact same result.
Now, I'm not against change for the sake of being against change, but when there is literally no point to it and the movie is bending over backwards to make it happen, then something is wrong. Mari, in this movie, has absolutely no point.
But she's just the most prominent symptom in a long list of them.

of these

make any

A lot of them open up plot holes all their own that I won't discuss here, because that would do nothing except make this post even longer than it already is.
And then there's the direction.
Old and busted
Again, the direction of this movie is actually very good. Everything has a sense of scale. Everything is massive and there is an ever-present feeling that the smallest screw-up could cost untold lives. This was true in the original series, and Rebuild as a whole does a good job of replicating it, right up until it's dropped almost entirely for the sake of stylizing the fights.
New Hotness
In the original series, an Eva's size and weight were a large facet of how they operated, and the series used that to it's advantage. The fights were credible, and that's what made them fun to watch. That was part of the series's charm, and part of what set it apart from the rest of the giant robot genre.
In the movie, suddenly, giant, lumbering behemoths become as light as a feather, and really, we could be watching any giant robot show at all.
Pictured: Any giant robot show at all
That's what's wrong with Eva Rebuild 2.22. The plot is hastily written and full of holes, there are additions and omitions that make absolutely no sense, and the action can be very derivitive and unoriginal, which goes against everything Eva stood for, originally.
Well, they make no sense that is, until you look at it from a more economic perspective.

1 comment:

  1. It would sound as if my limited knowledge of NGE should stay that way, sir. I appreciate the extraordinarily comprehensive rant-post, as well.

    The pictures (and captions) are pretty well-assembled, too.

    Keep up the interesting work!