‘Attack on Titan: Part 1’ in review

A whirlwind of bone-crunching and teeth-gnashing assaults your senses

More stories from Hillary Smith



Adapted from a popular manga series by Hajime Isayama, the live-action film is a fun flop.

It’s a testament to how important strong character development is when the bad guys become drastically more interesting than the alleged “protagonists.”

Eren, the central character in “Attack on Titan: Part 1” played by Haruma Miura, is immediately identifiable as the hero thanks to his devil-may-care attitude toward social norms and floppy hair perpetually covering his eyes, which was positively brimming with angst.

His frustration is directed toward the large wall surrounding his village, which was built a century ago to keep the titans, who are giant zombie cannibal human monsters, from terrorizing the villagers. Eren questions the peace.

“Born inside the wall and dying inside it … you’re fine with that?” he asks his friend, Armin, and girlfriend, Mikasa, challenging the construct that is keeping him from living his best life. In a prime example of the adage, “Be careful what you wish for,” it is mere minutes later that the terrifying titans storm the wall.

For having a century to prep for this exact scenario to come, the soldiers do not respond well. In fact, it was genuinely frustrating and oddly disappointing to see them almost immediately reduced to scrambling around, apparently helpless to the attack.

In the defense of the soldiers, the titans are straight-up freaky. If a humanoid creature taller than a building came lumbering at me with a human carcass hanging out of its wicked leer, I would have freaked out, too. But in terms of entertainment value, the human element is lost when no inspiring acts of bold heroism or rallying the masses to fight transpire. Granted, this is only the initial attack.

After surprising the villagers and effectively conquering, the titans inhabit the agricultural part of the community while the people take refuge in the central commercial district, which is surrounded by a secondary wall.

Flash two years ahead. The people are barely surviving and definitely not thriving. The titans must be eliminated, so a small army is assembled to fight them off and Eren is among the ranks, ready to fight.

Unfortunately, fighting is not all that happens. When the focus is put on the humans, the plot drags. There is little to no interesting conversation; the characters are all one-dimensional; the music does nothing to help spice things up; and, to put a cherry on top of it all, there are weird pauses and sustained eye contact that make the human interactions ultimately boring during fight scenes.

The awkwardly long periods of staring coupled with camera cuts that just don’t quite flow end up throwing a wrench in the flow of things, making it all the weirder to watch.

Keeping in line with its consistently janky pacing, the ending throws in a few twists that may leave one slightly confused, possibly amused (I know I was) yet a touch offended by how rushed it was developed.

A light Google search reveals this live-action movie is based on a manga series by Hajime Isayama. Though having never read them myself, I would not be surprised if the books proved to be better than the movie, most likely with significantly more character development.

All that being said, “Attack on Titan: Part 1” was oddly fun to watch, if only because I have never seen a movie quite like it. That being said, I am inclined to make all my friends watch it so I can see their reactions as they live the experience. So, was it a good movie? I suppose that depends on your definition of “good.”

“Attack on Titan: Part 1” will play at 7 p.m. Friday, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. this coming Sunday in the Woodland Theater.