Monday Movie: Evangelion 1.0
Half the world's population have been wiped out in a single cataclysm, and mysterious entities known as "Angels" are now trying to finish off the rest. Conventional weapons are useless against them, but an organisation called NERV has created a number of giant, armoured synthetic humans which can be piloted by a select few teenagers. Teenagers such as Shinji Ikari, who's already withdrawn and troubled before he's forced into violent confrontations with otherworldly monsters that leave him near death.
Conceived as a deconstruction of cartoon shows about kids saving the world in giant robots, Neon Genesis Evangelion acquired praise and cult status in the face of budget constraints and (at least according to legend) its creator turning on his fans. The first in this new series of four films, then, which aims to give Evangelion the visuals it deserves and a definitive version of its fragmented story, seemed like the perfect place for me to jump on the bandwagon.
Having said that, I can definitely see that this is a story perhaps better told in a more episodic format. This ninety minute film is dominated by a series of apocalyptic, edge-of-the-seat battles between Shinji and the angels, each one risking everything and bringing humanity to the brink. They're all extremely well done, but there's not that much space for a breather between them, and the human, deeply psychological story at the film's heart would definitely benefit from more low-key, everyday scenes to ground it.
Still, colour me impressed by what is deservedly a renowned classic of animation - an imaginative blend of biomechanical science fiction, pubescent angst and what looks set to be a Philip Pullman-style perversion of Christian mythology. Roll on Evangelion 2.0.