Evangelion 1.11 You are (Not) Alone (2007)

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Time for something a bit different today, taking a break from the Woody Allen films with the first of four films which are remasters of the original Neon Genesis Evangelion series. Evangelion 1.11 (or 1.0) is animated (anime) film, that’s highly involved in ideas of science-fiction, and in many ways horror, with an incredibly deep religious subtext. I saw the original series many years ago, and was somewhat a fan but never finished it, which made watching this all the more tempting.

EVA Unit 01.

EVA Unit 01.

Evangelion follows a teenage boy named Shinji Ikari, who lives in Neo-Tokyo in the vaguely distant future (I can’t remember canon time dates). His father is a high ranking official in an organization NERV which is essentially some kind of global protection organization. The world borders on apocalypse as monsters known as ‘Angels’ continue to attack Tokyo, Shinji’s father summons him to pilot an Evangelion (A machine designed to fight the angels) as the human race struggles to survive. The film follows the first few attacks in the chronology, and the events leading up to Shinji piloting it, and the aftermath of so. It also focuses on fellow pilot Rei Ayanami, the other eva pilot, and also on Shinji’s father and their incredibly strained relationship. The first few battles with Angel 4, And 5 are fairly routine, with Unit 01 sustaining damage but ultimately protecting Tokyo. The climax involves the 6th angel as it comes close to penetrating and destroying NERV HQ, as drastic measures are taken as Shinji gets one shot using a special protoype positron cannon, which manages to create incredible tension considering it’s an animation.

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The film is only the first of a 4 part series, so you can’t really expect it to be as tense, and capturing as the later installments. The film seems very much similar to the original TV series, in some sections down to the shot with much fresher, revitalized animation which really captures the spectacle of it all. The animation is really crisp, and the battle scenes are incredibly gripping, however EVA still has elements of fan-service, and some very irritating, or otherwise ridiculous characters. Throughout the introductory cast, it’s basically impossible to fund someone who’s just a standard functioning human-being, especially with 4 or 5 of them (Shinji, Rei, Gendo) being angsty and untalkative  which really doesn’t create good drama. You could say it’s a part of the whole apocalyptic genre, and it’s a new world or such, but ultimately in my eyes that’s what holds Evangelion back, a lack of identifiable or amiable characters. However it is realistic in the way they behave, and is in many ways the very antithesis of the azumanga diaoh bubblegum bullshit that anime often gets tied down to, it has a variety of dark, synical characters who have seen too much and don’t know how to express themselves. In terms of mis-en-scene Evangelion 1.11 is incredibly symbolic in terms of religious symbols that really ties into the whole apocalypse, and idea of creation unmaking it’s self.

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Only a short review today, as I’m incredibly tired from a 6 hour train journey yesterday. Tomorrow we’ll crack on with part 3 of the Woody Allen films, and hopefully something new on Monday. Evangelion is an acquired taste, but certainly a good choice for those interested in science-fiction and apocalyptic dystopian drama. Until next time, I’ll leave you with this clip, and ask you to follow/like/comment/share if you like what you’ve read, and cheers!

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Rodan! The Flying Monster! (1956)

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Hello again people!, wasn’t planning on doing a review today, but had literally nothing else to do. So I bring you, a rather lighthearted review today, as I watch Rodan (1956) the third in chronology of the famous TOHO monster films, directed by Ishiro Honda. To clarify I watched the U.S version edited by the King Brothers (Rodan, not Radon), as I couldn’t find the original version, apparently the U.S version is generally more clean-cut and make more sense, questionable voice acting aside. So, I don’t really know a lot about monster films, or kaiju, and basically went out on a whim on this one. While watching Rodan, and while I didn’t love it I definitely found  interest in the chronology and as a result, and will probably review more, particularly of the Godzilla sagas. 

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Something about this lettering, I really love.

So, the film starts with U.S test footage of the very first testing of the H-Bomb (Hydrogen), as the voiceover begins to explain that the bomb affected the landscape, and that things would change due to the ramifications of the bomb. Anyway, we cut to mining village Kitamatsu, as we commotions in the mines as two men argue. There is flooding in the mine, and eventually workers start to turn up dead. The mine is infested by Giant Insects who begin to crawl up the mine shaft, and invade the town. Due to the work of brave protagonist Shigeru (Kenji Sahara) he manages to kill the insect by pushing a mine cart down the tracks, which crushes the beast. He delves down the mine further, the military have retreated by this point, as Shigeru delves deeper, trying to find his soon to be brother in-law Goro. The mine begins to erupt, as something emerges from the mine, as Shigeru somehow manages to make it through the other side where the military find him. It turns out the insects were basically irrelevant, and the real threat is Rodan, a mutated pterosaur who was woken from hybernation by the hydrogen bomb. Rodan begins to rule the airways, and take out anything it sees, as a second one comes from…seemingly no where? (I’m guessing this is as a result of cut footage from Japan to U.S Version), as the two Rodan(s)? begin to attack the city of Sasebo, and set it alight, before conveniently disappearing into hibernation, while the Military bomb and missile their sleeping den, which causes a volcano to erupt, which kills them.

Actual footage of the first Hydrogen bomb test.

Actual footage of the first Hydrogen bomb test.

I usually don’t go into plot this much on a review, but Rodan actually interested me. I started watching with the idea that Rodan would have a really basic plot E.G Monster appears, Monster Attacks, Army does something, Monster attacks, Monster dies, but doesn’t die in order to create sequel. However, as far as a very basic sci-fi plot goes, especially with the foreshadowing with the bomb, and giant insects, it’s actually has depth. As for the special effects? for something that’s almost 60 years old, the special effects are actually quite impressive, and instantly better than what I was expecting. The voice acting is…okay, I was surprised to scroll on IMDB, and discover most of the male characters are voiced by a very young George Takei. The human characters? are hideously one dimensional, but that’s fine because they’re irrelevant, as soon as you watch Rodan you realise it’s about the spectacle of the monster, seeing it, patiently knowing at some point it’ll wreak havoc in a grand way.

Rodan, wrecking havoc on the little town of Sasebo.

Rodan, wrecking havoc on the little town of Sasebo.

However, I can’t purely praise Rodan purely because it still managed to interest me now, I do have to complain about one thing. Over the course of roughly 1:20:00, there’s probably a full 25 minutes or so, of shots, of rocks exploding. Rocks set on fire, exploding via missiles, rocks being shot, rocks falling, rocks imploding, rocks falling on more rocks. It really isn’t interesting, and it’s probably not something you wanna bombard your audience with. Especially towards the climax of the film of all things. 

The city, left aflame

The city, left aflame

Overall, if it’s your cup of tea? watch Rodan! it probably won’t dissapoint, considering I went in with a large amount of skepticism and finished the film fairly surprised. If you don’t like old, classic, or Japanese cinema, specifically monster flicks? probably give it a miss, but it’s the kind of film that really gives you a lot of scope into the culture at the time, the kind of film making at the time, and is quite a valuable history lesson in it’s self. Anyway, until I hatch from my egg, and harass Japanese towns, that’s all for this time folks. I’ll leaves you with this trailer, and kindly ask you to comment (Particularly on what kind of thing you’d like to see next), Follow, and like anything you see. Cheers!

– Sam.