The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan is a popular manga series (previously unfamiliar to me) that has now inspired a two-part, live-action motion picture event. (Part 2 plays in theaters on Oct. 20, 22, and 27.) How does one accurately describe these films? Here are some words that spring to mind: crazy, bloody, over-the-top, outrageous. Oh, and amazing. Every so often, a movie comes along that is so intentionally, unrepentantly insane that it just captivates you. This is one of those occasions. Obviously, fans of the manga – or the subsequent anime series - are going to be interested, but if you're just a general fan of hardcore bonkers cinema, this needs to shoot directly to the top of your must-see list.

The story takes place sometime in the future. Civilization has collapsed, and the remaining humans live behind concentric walls that keep out the Titans – giant creatures that enjoy devouring people. Attack on Titan Part 1 introduces us to Eren (Haruma Miura), a young man who dreams of life beyond the walls. He and his friends Mikasa (Kiko Mizuhara) and Armin (Kanata Hongo) are in the thick of it when the Titans smash through one of those walls, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Eren and crew later find themselves on a mission to repair a hole in one of the other walls. They join an army of fighters who use “Omni-Directional Maneuver Gear” (i.e. gizmos that let them fly on wires) in order to get close enough to the Titans' necks, the one place they are vulnerable. The film ends with a bit of a cliffhanger as to Eren's fate.

Attack on Titan Part 2 picks the story right up. Armed with some new knowledge about himself (which won't be spoiled here), Eren realizes that there might be a way to defeat the creatures once and for all. Whereas the first installment is almost non-stop action, the second part is a little more substantive, providing crucial information about how the Titans came into existence and why they have never been previously defeated. Also, the push to fix the wall leads to a colossal battle with what may be the fiercest Titan of all.

One of the things that's so great about Attack on Titan is that the visuals are heavily stylized. This gives it a feel that's very fantastical. Trying to play this concept “realistically” wouldn't have worked as well as embracing the fantasy nature of it. There are two types of Titans. Some of them look like humans, albeit with exaggerated features (distorted faces, elongated arms) and – as we can see because they walk around naked – no genitals. The other type appear to have no skin; they are creatures of muscle, who emit smoke from their hulking bodies. Director Shinji Higuchi shoots them in slight slow-motion, to exaggerate the idea that they are as big and clunky as they are strong. When you see one of these things peering over a wall in a low-angle shot intended to emphasize their scope, the cool factor is off the charts.

The scenes of Titan attack are just as incredible. They pick up humans and bite into them. A swat of the hand creates a bloody explosion of their victim. They don't think twice about stomping on anyone or anything in their path. Eren and the other fighters zip through the air like flies, attempting to get high enough to deliver a death blow. It's endlessly fun because everything has been designed to be as berserk as possible. When one character is swallowed by a Titan, there's an extended shot of this person traveling down the creature's throat before being plopped into its stomach. This sort of invention is constant during Attack on Titan, and it delivers an extraordinary amount of fun. Watch the trailer below for a small taste.

At the same time, the plot, especially in Part 2, hits on some thoughtful themes involving social class. (The rich folks have several walls protecting them; the poor, just one.) There's a decent amount of character development, too. No non-descript warriors here. The ensemble cast really grounds all the crazy action.

Both parts of Attack on Titan are spectacularly entertaining on their own. Combined, they add up to an epic adventure filled with eye-popping lunacy. This is one of the most euphorically demented movie experiences I've ever had.

Attack on Titan Part 2 plays in theaters on October 20, 22, and 27. To find a theater showing it, please visit

Both films: ( 1/2 out of four)

Attack on Titan is unrated, but contains nudity and graphic bloody violence. The running time for Part 1 is 1 hour and 38 minutes, while Part 2 runs 1 hour and 27 minutes.

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