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REVIEW: “Evangelion 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo”

REVIEW: "Evangelion 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo"

In Evangelion 3.0 You
Can (Not) Redo
(2012), the third installment in his four-feature retelling
of his watershed series Neon Genesis
, writer-director Hideaki Anno pulls out all the stops in an visually
dazzling but emotionally unsettling film. You
Can (Not) Redo
is being shown throughout the country in brief engagements
prior to its release on disc in February.

The storyline of the new feature diverges from the original
TV program, but pushes the visual boundaries of this dystopic sci-fi epic. The original
Evangelion opened in 2015, fifteen
years after what was believed to be a giant meteor struck Antarctica,
devastating much of the Earth. Humans and the mysterious aliens known as Angels
had been locked in a deadly struggle ever since. Scientists at the NERV Center
in the fortress-city of Tokyo 3 led the battle against the Angels with the
giant cyborgs called Evangelions (or Evas), piloted by psychic teenagers.

As the new feature begins, Shinji Ikari (voice by Spike
Spencer), the reluctant, neurotic pilot of Evangelion Unit 01, awakens and discovers
he’s been in a coma for 14 years. While he was unconscious, the cataclysmic Third
Impact—which he may have triggered in his efforts to rescue fellow-pilot
Rei – destroyed most of Tokyo 3. Misato (Allison Keith), Asuka (Tiffany Grant) and
his other friends now work for a new organization VILLA, the sworn opponents of
their old employer NERV. After Shinji is kidnapped and taken to NERV headquarters,
he’s befriended by Kaworu (Jerry Jewell), the only individual who treats him
with genuine kindness.

Shinji’s dictatorial father Commander Ikari continues to
work at NERV, simultaneously plotting with and against the mysterious SEELE
cabal and their plan to alter human evolution, which is somehow linked to the
Dead Sea Scrolls. He deploys Shinji and Kaworu in the new Eva Unit 13, which
requires two pilots, to retrieve Longinus and Cassius, the two lances that
impaled the eerie creature known as Lilith during the Third Impact.

As they begin their mission, Misato’s forces attack, led by
Eva pilot Asuka. Kaworu begins to doubt the real purpose of their mission, but
Shinji seizes the lances. Unit 13 transforms and something approaching all hell
breaks loose. Kaworu realizes that he is actually the 13th Angel: His presence
is triggering the Fourth Impact. He commits suicide in an effort to halt the

Anno unleashes an extraordinary array of visual effects to suggest
the scale of the Fourth Impact and its historical/ontological/theological
significance. Gravity is compromised, explosions proliferate and the sky fills
with rings of color that suggest the atmosphere of Jupiter. Shinji’s already
fragile psyche nearly shatters as he witnesses the mind-numbing power he’s
inadvertently released. Asuka yanks him back to sanity – and VILLA – as the
principal characters prepare for the ultimate confrontation with Commander
Ikari, SEELE and the Angels in the next film.

Anno never seemed to know how to end the Evangelion story – he recut the last six TV
episodes, then reworked them into the theatrical feature Evangelion: Death and Rebirth (1997). When it failed to satisfy
audiences, Anno made a second feature, End
of Evangelion
(1997). In that film, the remnants of a linear plot dissolved
into a protracted collage that suggested animated

In this new cycle, Anno
says he is recreating Evangelion as
he initially envisioned it, unconstrained by technological and budgetary
limits. Audiences on both sides of the Pacific are waiting to see if the
changes he’s introduced will enable him to bring his mystical saga to a
satisfying conclusion.

You Can (Not) Redo
is not an easy film to watch. Shinji’s alienation and suffering are disturbing.
Viewers who haven’t seen the first two films in the remake (or the TV series)
will find themselves hopelessly lost; even fans may have trouble following some
of the new plot twists. But after the wearying sameness of so many recent
American features, You Can (Not) Redo
is as shocking and energizing as the slap a Zen master would administer to a student.

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