Spoiler Alert for the movie Evangelion 3.0+1.0 and the entire Evangelion franchise.
The first 50 minutes of Evangelion 3.0+1.0 feel as though they are only there to provide fanservice to longtime EVA fans and damage control the disaster that was Evangelion 3.0.
Ironically the first near hour of the movie is the part I enjoyed the most.
That says a lot when what feels like an adjunct provides more entertainment than the meat of the product you are indulging in.
For the first 40 minutes of this movie, our main character Shinji Ikari doesn't speak due to the lingering trauma he suffered in the previous film.
Now I'm not against characters who don't show much emotion.
Hell, some of my favorite characters in fiction don't show much emotion due to trauma or undisclosed mental issues.
A broken protagonist could be a very effective tool to progress the plot if handled by a skilled writer or team of writers.
Unfortunately, this is predominately used to give Shinji's former friend/Eva Piolet: Asuka, ample time to belittle and abuse him while he can't fight back.
The other characters, which many die-hard Evangelion fans have known from the original series, show up to provide fan service and spout exposition to try to damage control what fans didn't like about the previous film.
Many fans, myself included, didn't like Evangelion 3.0 because it was barely over 90 minutes, and most of the plot focused on Shinji reacting to the broken world he blames himself for creating. In contrast, it should have focused on teaching us how this new world functioned, how people survived, and what happened to the characters from the previous films.
Well, here we get that and more all in the first 55 minutes.
Fans of the original series will be happy to see Hikari and Toji, two characters who didn't get much screen time in these rebuild movies, are happily married, and have a daughter.
Well, it's a bit too late for that, considering that we know next to nothing about these characters in this new rebuild timeline.
Speaking of characters, we know little about, Mari's backstory is still not explained even after three movies, and she's the character who gets paired as Shinji's love interest at the end of the film.
Going back to the first 50 minutes, half of the character's dialogue feels like a soliloquy, as it feels as though in a vain attempt to damage control, director Hideaki Anno wants to show us what we missed in the previous film, but it kind of feels half-hearted.
I think that Anno bit off more than he could chew when he took on this project.
There is just so much exposition thrown into your face in this movie. It feels as though he was trying to make two movies because after the 55-minute mark where Asuka Shoots Shinji with a taser and wakes up in a Nerve Gunship, it feels like a completely different film.
I said it in my Eva 3.0 review, but I feel bad for Studio Khara.
They seemed to have some great ideas in the original trailer for Evangelion 3.0, but none of the stuff that was used in that trailer was in the actual movie.
Suppose the first 55 minutes of this movie were expanded into two hours, and we got to thoroughly explore this new post-apocalyptic tribe, its culture, its people, and its dichotomy in comparison to other tribes. In that case, this film could have been great.
Admittedly it was nice to get some quiet moments where characters can enjoy themselves and take in the environment while exploring this new world.
Though Shinji doesn't say much or emote much, I found it ridiculous how during the scene where a clone of his best friend Ayanami explodes into abiogenesis after finding out that clones can't survive that long outside of their test tubes; this impactful scene doesn't traumatize Shinji to the point of making him go berserk.
For all the problems that I had with the first 55 minutes of this movie, it was good to see Anno at least try to address the issues that fans had with the previous film.
Unfortunately, this movie is 156 minutes long, so what else could Anno offer us?
Giant Robots fight, characters who acted like jerks to Shinji in the previous film apologize to him, Shinji and his father fight, his father apologizes to him, and admits that he was wrong to treat him badly, and Shinji through a series of bullshit plot armor abilities, gains the power to reset the world and create a world where Everyone is happy, and the invading Angels and Evangelions never existed.
There, I was able to summarize that in 1 sentence. So why the fuck does it take this movie 100 minutes to stretch that out.
On that note, why the fuck did this movie take over seven and a half years to come out?
If you look at the trailer for Eva 3.0+1.0 from 2013, then you will see that the climax of this movie already seemed to be made.
So it couldn't possibly have taken this long to make the rest of the film if Anno already knew what he wanted.
My theory is that Anno had all the action set pieces that he wanted for this movie carved out, but he needed help with the story and characters.
You might be thinking that Anno created these characters and that he knows them best, but that is only partly true.
The character designer and mangaka who helped Anno in developing these characters was Yoshiyuki Sadamoto.
Anyone who is a fan of the Evangelion manga will no doubt see his influence in this film.
Just like in the manga, the film ends with a reset of the world where nobody knows about the Angels or Eva's, and Shinji is by himself on a train track.
If Anno wanted to follow the manga, why didn't he implement more scenes from the manga? You know, like the scenes where Hikari is discussing her dreams with Shinji about getting together with Toji right before Toji gets killed.
Or feature more of the school life of Shinji and his friends so that we have more of an emotional connection with them when we, along with Shinji, see them after all these years.
I feel bad for Yoshiyuki. To me, he was the true driving force behind Evangelion, and Anno seems to have just shoved him into the back to only be used when he is needed.
Anyway, this movie had some good fight choreography, some good music, and I enjoyed watching these characters come to terms with who they were and a happy ending that felt earned.
However, there was simply too much action that didn't feel as though there was any weight behind it.
If our main character pretty much becomes god by the end, then why should I care if the bad guys make the world end? He can create a new one.
Score 5/10 Mediocre
Eva is officially over.
Anno can move onto other things without feeling rushed to work on more Evangelion.
A decent amount of character growth in the first 50 minutes.
Some competent action that is worth watching on the big screen.
Eva is officially over.
No amount of action is a substitute for character growth.
Shinji being Shinji