Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hideaki Anno's "Evangelion 3: You Can (Not) Redo" at Grand Illusion Cinema: Jan 10 - 16

Opening in theaters stateside with a weeklong run at the Grand Illusion Cinema! The genre-defining cultural phenomena of the late-90's anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion finally hits it's stride with the third film in the planned Rebuild tetralogy. Where the first "Evangelion 1: You Are (Not) Alone" was heavily redundant in it's striving to recreate the series scene-for-scene, only by it's conclusion making the higher standard of it's animation apparent and presenting new takes on existing scenarios. The Second film, "Evangelion 2: You Can (Not) Advance" though expanding on the series' characters and world, felt like a collage of old and new lacking in the self-assurance to take the story to the heights it could ascend. Not quite gelling into anything more than a 'best of' assembly of signature scenes from the television series, Rebuild was a pendulum swinging from one dynamic scenario to the next. In doing so, it lacked in the quietude, introspection and pacing that defined Hideaki Anno's take on character development. The result was that the first two installments of the Rebuild watched like a compacted (and somewhat melodramatic) conception of the story for the already-converted. Which brings us to "Evangelion 3: You Can (Not) Redo". First off, it's immediately apparent Anno's Studio Khara have stepped up the quality and complexity of the animation, as it's opening scene is technically brilliant, in a manner the previous two installments only hinted at.

Not only the action sequences, but the sense of scale, desolation and expansiveness seen in "You Can (Not) Redo" are immense, often thrilling, and occasionally downright surreal. If you've invested in the previous two in the cycle and came up wanting, this film goes some way to make up for the Rebuild's shortfalls, introducing new content beyond both the series' and previous theatrical film's narrative. Desolation is the core of the story itself, as the film takes place some 15 years since the events of the 'Third Impact' initiation seen at the closing of the previous film, "You Can (Not) Advance". The narrative's larger themes, that of shame, guilt, resignation and an encompassing yearning to rectify history's wrongs though cosmic (and I do mean cosmic) redemption play out across the fragile, already broken persona of the series' protagonist Shinji Ikari. Making the tellingly-titled "You Can (Not) Redo" a film decisively for those already indoctrinated in Anno's soul-searching, existential, morbid, crushingly patriarchal (in a very Japanese sense) world that is equally gorgeous, touching and at times totally celestial in it's reverie. If you've not watched the series, even the previous two installments in this Rebuild cycle won't allow you to navigate the complexities of the physical/metaphysical world of "You Can (Not) Redo" and the characters that populate it. Designed to both resolve untethered aspects of the original series' closing chapters and the 1997 theatrical re-write, "The End of Evangelion" this third chapter of the Rebuild, along with it's closing epilogue "Evangelion: Final" may yet prove to be the definitive conclusion to Evangelion viewers were denied almost two decades ago.