'Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo' review: Familiar, fresh -still frustrating
The long-awaited "Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo" (released on DVD and Blu-ray on Feb. 2) represents something Eva fans have craved for more than two decades: new story content in the legendary anime franchise.
In short: Shinji Ikari wakes up 14 years after causing Third Impact - but the world has radically changed since he disappeared after "Evangelion: 2.22." Ikari is shackled by his former allies and forbidden from piloting an Eva - while several forces battle for control of the Evangelions and the fate of humanity. (Watch the trailer)
While the first two films in the "Rebuild of Evangelion" reboot drew heavily from the original "Neon Genesis Evangelion" anime series, "3.33" radically departs from the series -- while remaining fundamentally rooted in the show's core mythology. "3.33" is an exciting re-imagining of the "Evangelion" mythology - an entry that feels fresh and familiar.
For the uninitiated to "Evangelion," the original series followed young Shinji Ikari - a protagonist tasked with saving the world by piloting an immense robot known as Evangelion Unit-1. But during the course of the series and the subsequent film, Ikari's increasing alienation leads him to shift from savior to unwitting antagonist, as Ikari is used to essentially end the world.
The original and beloved "Evangelion" anime series (admittedly) leans toward the esoteric at times. Even upon multiple viewings, figuring out the entire original series can be challenging. Rebuild "3.33" succeeds in walking a tightrope - it makes the complex "Eva" plot points a little more accessible.
That said, the third act is once again packed with a ton of obscure Evangelion mumbo jumbo and convoluted character motivations that are somewhere between mysterious and confusing. While the first two acts at least give the audience a remote chance of piecing together the real motivations and events that occurred between "1.11" through the beginning of "3.33," this movie quickly reverts back to borderline incoherence by the third act. Only the uber "Eva" fans will be patient enough to muddle through the bewildering third act with any amount of satisfaction -- pretty much anyone else will be understandably alienated.
The Blu-ray edition includes a 52-page guidebook, complete with character art offering revealing the brand new looks for some of the franchise's core characters. The disc's special features are limited to a number of commercial and trailer spots, as well as a 10-minute featurette illustrating how animators developed the "Rebuild" series from animatics to beautiful, fully realized animation accented with stunning CGI. For a long delayed home media release of a movie first released in Japan in 2012, this Blu-ray set feels slightly meager - especially since "Evangelion: 4.0" will not be released anytime in the near future - even in Japan.
Final verdict: The third chapter of the "Rebuild of Evangelion" series shakes up the reboot series by departing from the source material, resetting most of the characters while honoring the original show's core themes and story beats.
"Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo" is available on DVD and Blu-ray starting Feb. 2.