Live-action “Attack on Titan” is a Disaster
The basic problem with this movie is it seems like the director and the studio thought “this is a scary movie for junior high school boys” and what’s worse, they have very low opinions of the tastes of junior high school boys. It’s also extraordinarily sexist as I’ll write in detail below.
The manga had very complete and mature characters and plotting from the start, but these guys were all turned into thirsty idiots who are too busy having sex to realize there are Titans right next to them.
The major themes of the story, like family love and sacrifice, and political class conflict, were completely absent. All that was left was an army, and it was the world’s most disorganized army.
The characters’ background stories were missing. They didn’t even tell you Mikasa was an adopted foreigner or that Mikasa and Elen were adoptive siblings–in fact they had no family at all because Elen’s parents (who are extremely important) supposedly died many years ago.
The music sticks out worse the longer it goes. It seems to have been made by an orchestra that wasn’t watching the movie and was just imitating dramatic noises. The CG was OK at first but the longer the movie went the worse it looked until it was a second-class Godzilla movie.
Was the director trying to impress everyone by changing everything to the opposite of what it was to make it creative? Did the studio interfere too much? How did the series author OK this script; did he lose the rights to the story?
Sexism in movies and Japan are longstanding hot topics but the level of sexism in this film is particularly egregious, and could go in textbooks together with the Bechdel Test because of how much they changed the source material to make it so. Let’s go through the female characters in order of importance (minor spoilers of the manga coming and who cares about spoiling this movie):
1. Mikasa. In the original she is the Last Survivor Of Her Race and has extraordinary innate abilities. As a child her family was killed (we meet all her loving family members first) and then the main male character Eren’s family adopts her. So she is self-sacrificially protective of Eren’s family, not wanting to lose anyone else. Eren actually resents Mikasa always saving him because she’s so much stronger.
In the movie she has no special abilities (only becomes a great fighter late, after an older man teaches her to be while also teaching her about sexuality, no seriously), no family (not even mentioned in passing, no longer related to Eren), no special racial heritage, and no human relationships with anyone except two love interests and a boyfriend’s friend. She starts as Eren’s boyfriend obviously hoping to marry him (very much unlike the original), then during an attack sequence is caught outside clutching a baby and crying in fear, after which she disappears after an explosion. 2 years later Eren and his best friend find her, but she unbelievably gives her only living friends the cold shoulder. The clear subtext is because Eren didn’t save “her baby” he’s not a great provider. Now she’s 2nd-in-command but a student (militarily and sexually) of the creepo captain (way different from the original where she’s ultra-cool) who taught her how to be a great fighter. This relationship did not exist in the original! They invented a love triangle where Eren has to get her back by becoming a better fighter than this creep. So in summary, they turned Mikasa into a wife and mother.
2. Hungry Girl (no one has names from here on out). She also eats all the time in the show but she at least has other personality traits. Here she is so hungry that when someone publicly insults her dignity it just makes her hungrier. She ends up the love interest of Eren’s best friend because he, you guessed it, gives her his food. One thing to her credit, she can use a bow and arrow. In the original all the female soldiers could fight but in this one she’s an exception, as you’ll see.
3. Crazy Woman, can’t fight, a klutz who is super-interested in studying the monsters as usual, but who somehow has zero fighting skills despite being a commander with great responsibility for defending the human race.
4. Lonely Single Mom, can’t fight, joined the army to pay for a nanny, an important plot point is only she can hear this one baby monster’s voice, opens up her shirt and presses Eren’s hand on her boobs when they’re in the middle of a totally dangerous situation while asking “do you want to be my son’s father?” oblivious to the monster right behind them about to eat them.
5. Hysterical Girlfriend, can’t fight, can’t stand the idea of her boyfriend dying, of course he eventually does, so she goes psycho and screws up their entire mission to save humanity.
6. Sad Soldier who gets splattered with blood of a guy who commits suicide (money shot?) and breaks down crying during an attack.
7. Cute Little Girls (literally the children I mean) who run away crying during the monster attack.
In only one element is the role of women expanded: way more of the monsters are women. In the show “Why are they all men??” was an interesting plot point but here they eliminated that and you have the hags eating people too.