Nothing is off the table as Evangelion forges a new path for itself with dazzling visuals and powerful moments.
What They Say
In the earliest battles against the monstrous Angels, young Eva pilots Shinji and Rei were forced to carry humanity's hopes on their shoulders. Now, with the deadly onslaught of the Angels escalating and the apocalyptic Third Impact looming, Shinji and Rei find their burden shared by two new Eva pilots, the fiery Asuka and the mysterious Mari. Maneuvering their enormous Eva machines into combat, the four young souls fight desperately to save mankind from the heavens - but will they be able to save themselves?
The audio for this release is pretty strong when it comes to the high definition offerings as we get a pair of bilingual lossless tracks, the Japanese and English in Dolby TrueHD 6.1. I had previously heard this feature in DTS-HD MA 6.1 and liked it a lot and the mix here feels about on par with that but you'll never really notice any differences unless you get down to the nitty gritty with comparisons. The mix itself is really great with a lot of directionality, some great subtle moments with the rear speakers and a lot of clarity to the whole thing. Dialogue is really strong throughout with the softer moments coming across clear but balanced well while the large action sequences are intense and powerful. The film makes good use of the audio throughout and the presentation here is solid throughout.
Originally in theaters June 2009, the transfer for this feature film is in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Similar to the audio, if you have the Japanese version, the Hong Kong version and this one, you'll be picking over it with a fine tooth comb to find differences. If you sit back and watch it, you'll have a solidly strong experience overall that mirrors what the first movie was like and be pretty pleased. Colors are vibrant and strong throughout, cross coloration and aliasing is a non-issue and there's a good sense of depth with the show. When you get very close, especially on larger screens, you can see the noise within it that stands out in comparison to normal film grain which can be problematic depending on your sensitivity. Watching this from a normal distance in a darkened room at night, it looked great in motion and left me with no displeasure over it.
FUNimation's release of Evangelion manages to play both sides of the game when it comes to the cover artwork. I really disliked the solid orange piece that we'd seen with overseas editions since I just don't find it all that appealing. FUNimation uses that here with its standard Blu-ray case, but it uses the orange for the slipcover only and even then it still has the Blu-ray logo strip along the top. The film logo itself is actually embossed which is a nice touched compared to other editions, but overall it's still an eye-catching piece of gaudiness. Add a sticker to it that tears if you try to remove it and the slipcover as a whole just demands to be tossed away. It does have a flap on the front so you can open it and inside we get a good shot of an Eva unit that spans two panels, but it's a flap that's held together by glue, so once you open it, it'll never close cleanly again. The back cover uses the heavy orange background as well but it adds a bit more to it with an embossed piece of artwork of Asuka (yeah, you can guess what's definitely embossed on her) on the right while down the middle is a strip of colorful but small shots from the feature. The left side has the premise of the film using white text on the orange which is easier to read than I thought it would be. The special features for the disc are listed in a much harder to read shade of blue while the remainder of the bottom of the cover is given over to the technical grid and production information.
What's welcome is that the case itself features a different piece of character artwork, one that I don't want to spoil, as it features a young woman in a plug suit set against a black backdrop that has an almost illustration style look to it that's very appealing in its simplicity. The back cover is identical to the back of the slipcover except it uses a black background instead of the orange and there's no embossing going on. It has a more serious yet understated look to it that's definitely more appealing. There is artwork on the reverse side that uses an orange background and some seemingly chaotic lines that has a deeper meaning the more you look at it. Also included in this release is a small twenty page booklet that has a lot of shots from the film, explanations of who is who and some of the technical aspects and more along those lines. It's a small booklet overall, since it has to fit in the Blu-ray case, but it's a nice addition that adds a touch more information and context to things.
The menu layout for Evangelion is mildly in-theme with the show itself as it has the small hooks to make it so but is largely given over to a series of clips from the film which occupies a good eighty percent of the screen. The clips all look good with lots of vibrant colors, some quiet moments and and a solid sense of action as it plays to some rather relaxing music overall. The bottom portion has the navigation basics, which also doubles for the pop-up menu, and it has the mild hooks there which works well. When you get into the submenus it shows things a bit more with the line work and layout as it shifts the menu up. I do like that for the looping aspect, it uses the music player from within the show to reverse the side that's playing as it's a nice little nod to one of the more memorable scenes from the original TV series that was used in the feature. Everything loads quickly and smoothly though the disc doesn't utilize our player presets and instead defaults to English with sign/song subtitles.
Unlike the Hong Kong release, there's a good solid amount of extras here to check out. The US cast and crew is involved in a feature-length commentary track that will be highly appealing to fans of the cast as they laugh and talk about their experiences on the project. Sadly, you cannot switch to the commentary on the fly during regular playback which is a real disappointment. We get the original trailer, some additional spots and the Blu-ray and DVD trailers as well. An extra well worth watching is the Rebuild of Evangelion piece which runs for twenty-two minutes and shows various segments of the film in its various forms as it's all put together with its technical structure set to music from the feature. The “Noguchi” version of a particular key scene is also included which has its own differences compared to the theatrical version. There's also a series of four deleted scenes, though they're not exactly completed scenes, which have dialogue to them that flesh things out a touch more but aren't all that important overall.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first movie, I came away from the whole experience less than thrilled. I appreciated the technical aspects of it, I liked the way it did some neat big screen renditions of existing scenes from the original TV series and the use of a lot of the original music, updated, along with some key moments I had hoped to see retained were the positives. At the same time, it felt like it didn't deviate all that much from the first six episodes, so much so that while I understood it would go in more radical directions in the second film on, it left me not particularly interested in seeing more of it. Of course, I ended up grabbing the Hong Kong release the minute that came out and here I am again checking out the US version.
The second film highlights the fact that it's going off the predictable rails right from the start as it introduces an Evangelion pilot we haven't seen before named Mari Makinami who goes up against the remains of a revived Angel in the Arctic base where she's stationed. She's a curious pilot, different from others we've seen before in that she has a real love of being an Eva pilot and the violence associated with it. She's not violent in a bloodthirsty way, but she loves her job and gets into completely, though not without a few issues as she deals with this opening creature. It's a strong opening to the film visually as she deals with this skeletal looking Angel but it's also key psychologically as it shows that the scope is going to be bigger than we've seen before and the larger story is going to be fleshed out.
The story for this feature follows a couple of different paths but there are some very basic themes attached to it. The core theme focuses as it did in the first on the relationship between Shinji and his father. Shinji is slowly gaining approval from his father as there is even a moment where he thanks him for what he's done. The two aren't completely cold towards each other, but they've lost things and have dealt with it in different ways. The initial scene featuring the two visiting Shinji's mothers grave is poignant as Gendo talks about how life is and the kinds of things you have to do to survive it in his own curious way. Later, there's scenes involving a potential dinner that could happen with several of the characters as a way to bring the two together, and Gendo even agrees to that as a way to try and heal the rifts that others see. Shinji, being who he is, ends up making it all worse through the actions of Gendo and their relationship is strained once again for good reason.
Another big theme that comes in is that of teamwork. A new pilot is brought in to Japan from Europe who is all about style and doing things big, yet alone. Asuka Langely is the spitfire who has come from there and she's of the mindset that her arrival means that Rei and Shinji are no longer needed. Since they're piloting a prototype and test type Eva, and hers is the first official combat Evangelion unit, they're inferior to her and she should be the one taking on the lead role. So much so that when she does move in with Misato after her transfer, she figures that Shinji will be sent home so she loads all her stuff into his room. So she's quite surprised when she's told they're all living together and have to work together with Rei as well.
Asuka brings a certain kind of life to the film. She's moody and lashes out easily, but she's big and brash as well with her attitude. The vibrant red of her outfit signifies her personality well and she lives up to it just as easily. She goes through some of the same adjustments Shinji did, including meeting the penguin and having a good bit of comedy around it, but she also has a lot of issues with Rei, who she doesn't affectionately call a doll. She finds Rei to be little more than a Pet to the Commander and has no love for her. Yet the trio has to slowly come together to work as a team as they deal with various Angel threats, but also some surprising competition amongst each other as she misunderstands what Rei does to try and help Shinji, thinking it's because she cares about him in a romantic way, which just sets Asuka to being jealous herself.
This second feature has a whole lot going on. The Angel attacks are bigger and more intense as they get closer to getting underground than anything before this, so much so that you can't believe they haven't made it through already. The beauty of Tokyo-3 is taken in just as it was in the first, if not more so because they focus on more areas of it, both in its natural daily routine as well as the big action sequences. Some of the more interesting moments involve the moon though when Gendo and Fuyutsuki make their way there and we get hints at what SEELE is doing up there through some brief yet very curious scenes involving the young man who can seemingly breathe in space. The large scale nature of the background storyline is more apparent here and it only serves to entice you more to see what's coming.
Watching the second installment of Evangelion is more rewarding and more difficult than the first. It's more rewarding because you're seeing this interpretation taking on its own life fully, from the way Asuka is introduced, the new character of Mari and the larger scope of how the world works with Evangelion units. It's more difficult in that there are expectations you have if you've seen the original and you have to disassociate it from this feature, which can be difficult depending on how many times you've seen the original. There's a lot to like here in this Rebuild of the series as it takes a lot of what was under the surface of the original but they could never articulate and utilize within the confines of the series. They go big here with a lot of changes, changes that could annoy and irk the faithful, but it's an interpretation that is doing something different at this point and it does it well, giving it all the kind of smoothness it needs, even if it does feel rushed sometimes when there are so many Angel fights throughout it.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 6.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD6.1 Language, English Subtitles, Teaser, Trailer, Train Channel Spot, TV Spots, Promotion Reel, Rebuild of Evangelion 2.02 "I Would Give You Anything", Deleted Scenes
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.