This past weekend, the long-awaited English dub of the third film in the “Rebuild of Evangelion” series premiered at the Main Stage of New York Comic Con 2013. The “Rebuild” reboot series has been a point of contention for diehard “Evangelion” fans since its announcement, and with this entry it makes a jarring diversion from the course of the original narrative. Unfortunately, moviegoers may have bigger problems with “3.33” than its faithfulness to the original anime series.
After Shinji Ikari (Spike Spencer) is retrieved from a mysterious orbital coffin and reawakened, he is shocked to learn that fourteen years have passed since the events of “Evangelion 2.22.” Although it appeared that the Third Impact had been prevented at the end of “2.22,” it is revealed that this catastrophic event did in fact come to pass, destroying much of the already distressed Earth in the process. With all the blame for this disaster placed on Shinji’s shoulders, he is treated by his former friends and teammates with contempt. His ex-comrades have now formed an organization called Willa, with the sole purpose of stopping their former employer Nerv from initiating the Fourth Impact.
The “Evangelion” franchise has long been notorious for its inscrutable plot, but “3.33” is especially difficult to wrap the brain around. The pacing is a particular problem in the movie as well; the first half is painfully slow to reveal what happened during the fourteen-year timeskip, and the ending of the film is a fast-paced mecha battle. The middle portion of the film had a heavy focus on the relationship between Shinji and his new friend Kaworu Nagisa (Jerry Jewell), with a lot of not-so-subtle yaoi innuendo. Whether or not this was intended to be humorous, each double entendre drew uproarious laughter from the NYCC audience.
Despite the pacing issues, series helmer Hideaki Anno provides great direction otherwise, with plenty of memorable shots and exciting fights. Animation studio Gainax continues to provide some of the best visuals in the industry, aside from some questionable CGI. The English voice cast is also in top form, with Spencer’s emotionally nuanced performance and Trina Nishimura’s comic delivery (as Mari Illustrious Makinami) being notably memorable.
Even with a great voice cast and top quality animation, the film’s narrative shortcomings make “3.33” the weakest film in the “Rebuild of Evangelion” series.