30 July 2019 | Shostakovich343
Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo
It seems Hideaki Anno has realised that his first two "Rebuild" films had little new to offer, for the opening of "Evangelion 3.0" is overwhelming. This is the original story he was building towards all the time! Or so it seems initially.
The opening jumps right into the action. 14 years after the events of the last film, Shinji wakes up to find himself captured by Ritsuko's rebellion against NERV. You would be forgiven for thinking you accidentally put on "The Matrix Four," seeing this collection of eyepatches, sunglasses and flying warships, set to music that combines church choirs, rock guitars and piccolos. Even in a franchise about teenagers in giant robots fighting angelic aliens, this is very hard to take serious.
But before the novelties can settle, the pacing takes a significant dip. Shinji escapes to the ruins of Tokyo III, and the plot starts meandering.
Easily the film's biggest success is the bonding between Shinji and Kaworu -- even though the depiction of learning to play the piano is not in accordance with my seven years of fruitless finger aches. Their relationship in the series was, I would argue, never homosexual. Kaworu loved Shinji in a pansexual manner: Because of his personality, without considering his gender, whilst Shinji liked Kawuro simply because he was the only person kind to him. Here, Anno succeeds in recreating that delicate balance between friendship and sexuality, proving that he still is a great writer.
Or rather: That he CAN be a great writer, for Shinji's character is painfully downgraded. He receives the same treatment as Asuka did in "Evangelion 2.0," namely a removal of much of his existential conflict, although contrary to her, his behaviour remains the same, turning him into the indecisive brat that he was for so long unjustly made out to be.
But the film's main problem is much bigger, namely the story as a whole. The film's opening bombards the audience with new impressions, but everything after that is spread-out exposition. This culminates with Fuyutsuki straight up telling Shinji the Evas' identities, a shocking reveal never explicitly relayed in the series.
The climax that caps these 50 minutes of explanation is based around misconception and comes down to the avoidance, rather than the execution of an actual event. Thus, our characters are left in exactly the same position as they have been since the first 15 minutes, merely talked up-to-date.
Then what was "Evangelion 3.0"'s point? Setting up the next film, I guess, like the last two films' point was. We have now passed the three-quarter mark in the "Rebuild" tetralogy and the only original writing so far barely hangs together. Maybe if "Evangelion 4.0" turns out to be an earth-shattering revelation, it will be worth seeing the other three again as part of a larger narrative, but nothing will take away from the fact that this film is, even more than its predecessors, redundant, and simply inferior to its stunning source material.