Attack on Titan: Part 2 Blu-ray Review

Context Conquest

The first 15 minutes of Attack on Titan: Part 2 sends this two-parter in a different direction. The first Attack on Titan was an ailing if potent action movie, dealing lightly with the class system in this post-war world. Following that in this second part is the sudden appearance of a fascist government, exposed for keeping restrictive policies in place through misinformation and fear.

Less reliant on splatter spectacle if still stepping around the issue of character, Attack on Titan’s approach is now to give answers – where Titans come from, why they exist, and thus establishing the lore while exposing the tyrant political scheme. Seems like a backwards approach to the narrative, if generally competent in terms of taking Part 2 on its own terms.

Where the first part over extended itself with filler action scenes, the cause here is primarily dialog. Often, Attack on Titan’s stout writing proves gripping. While lacking in subtly, narrative texture breathes a bit, bringing the issues down in scope to better manage the human toll. Villains are no longer the Titans, rather humanity itself. As a mass market property, stretched between anime, manga, videogames, and now film, it’s nice to see one of the mediums answer questions, relaxing into the mythology rather than serving commercially profitable ambiguity.

… the strength of the property isn’t all in the freakish, marketable Titan designs, rather buried in the narrative aesthetic

Source material still matters, though. Prolonged images hint at the origin manga, and visual compositions bend to the anime. This also means Attack on Titan feels wild in its theatrics, out of sorts for the live action aesthetic. It’s arguable the budget front-loaded this mini-saga, leaving this back half to chew on fewer locations and fewer still story opportunities.

Those restrictions work in another sense, forcing Attack on Titan to settle down. Those expecting similar bloodshed will likely become antsy, double that for anyone eager for Titan slaughtering. They’re secondary pieces in their own movie. However, this shows the strength of the property isn’t all in the freakish, marketable Titan designs, rather buried in the narrative itself – that of the impoverished making their stand and conquering their well-to-do suppressors.

But again, none of this is done with elegance or caution. The theme flourishes to extremes in the end, represented by the poor, undersized Titan slamming a missile down the throat of a government dictator Titan. Japanese society isn’t the type to relish individualism, and Attack on Titan appears to scream at its audience to change. This, along with Shin Godzilla’s socially suppressed yet outspoken science team, indicate a younger culture wanting change. That’s of interest, even if Attack on Titan has to yell a little louder to make it work.

Attack on Titan Blu-ray screen shot 10

Video

Primarily carrying the dry Earth tones of the first part, there’s an attempt to break away, however slightly. Some new visual languages bring a bright room, heavily lit with a burning contrast. This scene carries excessive noise while Funimation’s disc chokes a little on the compression end. Oddly, it has no trouble with a torrent of digital smoke later.

A good chunk of Attack on Titan: Part 2 builds on the first act of Part 1: High contrast, dense exterior lighting, and light saturation. Digital cinematography brings in pleasing fidelity, from appropriately dirty costumes to facial definition. Strong resolution carries throughout, and the practicality of certain effects comes through under the computer-aided touches.

Black levels stay an issue, filtered out by color grading. It’s a loss, if not a consistent one. Mostly, the film book-ends these problems, leaving the middle nicely weighted in image density.

Audio

With less action and smaller cast, the TrueHD track isn’t as enthralling by design, but it finds its moments. Spaces vividly echo dialog, strongly accentuating the opening scenes. Superior action design drops rubble throughout the soundstage, widely and convincingly. For a touch of morbid fun, anyone splattered by Titan punches ends up falling into the surrounds as with the debris.

The odd part is LFE support. While tremendous when dealing with giant Titans, whether footsteps or attacks, a handful of explosions produce little or no bass at all. One is so sizable, the fireball fills the screen. It’s a wonder where the bottom end went.

Extras

A handful of trailers, which isn’t much of a bonus.

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process. Patreon supporters were able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to 16 Attack on Titan: Part 2 exclusives.