Every remake has its danger, but that’s even greater when it comes to a series that has become a legend within its genre.
Full disclosure: it’s been about seven years since I watched the Evangelion series, including the concluding movie End of Evangelion, and, to be honest, I don’t remember much of it. The episodes followed a similar pattern: Shinji mopes, angel is coming, prepare for angel, fight angel, win, Shinji mopes. Of course the series gets darker and more introspective over time, but generally that’s the trajectory until the end.
The good thing about Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone – the remake, or “rebirth” – is that it covers three hours of TV time in about half that. Nonetheless, the film still falls into the old angel is coming, prepare for angel, fight angel pattern, losing considerable momentum in the repetition. There is a slight arc of Shinji coming to accept his place as an Eva pilot, and a running progress check within the overall plot, but generally this first installment lacks significant character progression. Most of the characters are still single-sided with little to latch onto beyond their archetypes and neuroses. It doesn’t help that certain inconsistencies, like how Tokyo-3 supposedly goes underground during attacks yet people are still on the street, remain unexplained.
The highlight of the film, easily, is the updated production. From start to finish the movie looks and sounds gorgeous with fluid animation throughout. Even better, computer animation is used to augment the traditional hand drawn material, not replace it entirely.
Overall, Evangelion: 1.11 serves as an introduction to the new version of the iconic series. On its own there is little to make it standout, either as an individual film or from the original shows, making it valuable solely for those willing to invest in the entire series. Let’s hope the end makes it worth the beginning.[subscribe2]