Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time

Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

There's plenty to praise. I'll agree that the last installment, after the decently enjoyable by-the-books retreads of the first two and the slightly more creative but badly executed third one, finally makes the Rebuilds not just a series of movies worth watching but a story worth telling.

The first third, turning the ever-present apocalypse imagery on its head and finally showing the process of reconstruction, is some of the best stuff in the entire franchise. It throws a huge middle finger towards the bleak nihilism of 3.0 and gives the whole thing immediate stakes – of course there is something worth fighting for (and worth watching confusing 3D fight scenes for). The fresh setting could not be better used; after all, the series that has always been good at externalizing its melodrama into the world surrounding its characters.

While the metafictional angle is similar to the general "touch grass" themes explored in the past, the new framing does help the movie to reach a new level of catharsis – Evangelion is a story about piloting a huge robot who is actually your mom, and now we're saying goodbye to it. The focus of Gendo feels like a good idea, too, and puts the father–son-conflict where it has really belonged all along: the dead center of this painfully Freudian mess.

Mostly, though, I just think the movie is a very good time, somehow impossible not to enjoy even in its arguable flaws. Every absurd, clumsily exposited piece of technobabble feels like a joke it's sharing with you. I could grumble about Asuka's retconned arc feeling less compelling and all sense of scale and tangibility being truly lost (this is a movie that will introduce like a cloud of millions of Evangelions and make you think "wow, can't wait to see how Asuka and Mari will fuck them up"), but what would the point be? 3.0+1.0 is clearly going for something different than the TV show, and here it doesn't feel like a bad thing. Also, I laughed and clapped and cried when they explained what "Neon Genesis" really means.

The movie's sheer self-confidence is deeply charming, and it's cool for the Rebuilds (not to mention the whole franchise) to end on such a nice note. I'm not even mad that Mari still kind of blows and that her arc ends in a deeply contradictory way, with the movie both weaving her into its mythology (while still not explaining her properly) and positioning her as a symbol of normalcy for Shinji to lean into after destroying all the mommy mechas forever and entering the real world. (ok maybe I'm a little mad)

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