So, Saturday night (the 22nd) three of our previous weekend's group of four (Monte, Stan, and myself)* headed back up to the U-district to see the second part of EVANGELION. As before, we went out to eat first -- this time at The Shawarma King. It's been a good while -- more than ten years, I'd say -- since I had shawarma, and I was a bit afraid it'd be too much like the gyros sans pita I'd had the day before, but although it looked similiar the spice mix and taste were quite different, and much better.I also liked the Egyptian nick-nacks scattered all throughout the shop.
Then, after a mostly pleasant walk (we got harassed by a belligerent drunk at one point) and a cup of tea (since the Grand Illusion, being a v. civil place, allows you to buy a cup of tea and take it into the theatre itself with you), it was time for the show. We sat up in the next-to-the-front row, which seemed a good choice at the time but proved to be not quite as good as we thought, given that some folks came in just before the show started and sat in front of us, with the end result that Monte and I both had only partial view of the subtitles as viewed around head-shaped silhouettes, though Stan got lucky (the person in front of him slouched down a lot). This wasn't too bad for me, since I knew enough of the story from the tv series to be able to mostly follow along, but it was a real challenge for Monte, who was coming fresh to the films with no prior knowledge of EVANGELION.
So, how was the second film, EVANGELION 2.0: YOU CAN (NOT) ADVANCE**? Pretty good, but not as coherent as the first one. Things are thrown at you at a faster clip, with few transitions. This is also where the story starts to diverge in major ways from the original. If their goal was to retell the series in punchier, more compact form, they've certainly succeeded. If, as I've read, they wanted to make a stand-alone set of films that you could enjoy and understand without knowing its earlier incarnations, then here's where the train leaves the tracks. There's simply not enough exposition to tell you what's going on; you have to guess who various people are and why they're doing what they're doing to whom. On the plus side, it's good to see the third Evangelion pilot, Asuka, arrive and liven things up. And the new character they introduce who wasn't in the original -- a fourth pilot, Mari, who's even more gung-ho than Asuka -- is fun, though she really only shows up for three scenes.
All in all, it's enjoyable enough that I'm still looking forward to the third installment (which apparently has been delayed -- typical of this director -- with no official release date as yet). The plan seems to be that the third film will cover the events in the rest of the series, then the final film will tell what happens after that -- so the story will be not just apocalyptic but post-apocalyptic, as it were, if they keep to that. We'll see.
Oh, and seeing this solved one puzzle from last week. Why had they been playing music from a different series, HIS & HER CIRCUMSTANCES, in the theatre before the film started? Because they've included pieces from that earlier soundtrack into the second EVANGELION movie. For those who knew both series, like myself and Stan, this was v. disorienting -- like watching a Star Trek movie and suddenly hearing the Star Wars theme in one scene. Still, it's good music, and it's being recycled from an entirely different show won't matter to most viewers of this.
And, speaking of music, I enjoyed the closing theme so much that I went on Itunes afterwards and tracked it down: "Beautiful World" (PLANiTB Acoustic version). Very nice!
*sans Ben, who had a D&D game that ran long, but plus Anne and Sigfried, who joined us there.
**Janice quipped that the third film shd be called YOU CAN(NOT) PASS GO, YOU CAN(NOT) COLLECT $200, or something like that.