Evangelion 1.0 is the first of four films remaking and retelling Neon Genesis Evangelion. It is meant to be more accessible for new fans and changing things enough (Most notably, the modern animation) for existing fans to enjoy. The latter point however, doesn't seem to live up to it's promise in this movie.
Short and Sweet
Story - 8/10
The start of the story seems no different from Neon Genesis Evangelion. It's 2015 and Angels (Don't take it literally, they're big monsters) are showing up to threaten humanity with destruction. These Angels previously annihilated half of the world's population 15 years ago and they're back to finish the job. The only thing that can stand in their way are Evangelion units, giant robots that are piloted by teenagers with all different kinds of problems. The main pilot of the story is Shinji Ikari, a b oy with serious daddy issues and personal struggles within himself when he's asked to pilot an Eva and help defeat Angels.
As someone who has seen the anime, there isn't that much that changes the story here. It's basically a prettier version of the series. There are some clarifications and changes, primarily in establishing late-show plot points early on. This foreshadowing approach could potentially be confusing though I personally found it interesting. As a whole this movie does seem to achieve it's goal of making Evangelion more easily accessible and it removes many things from the show in favor to push the story. It feels a little rushed at times as a result, and some level of character development and pace is lost because of it.
Animation - 9/10
It's hard to rework a show from 1995 with modern animation techniques and not have superior animation in every way, and Evangelion 1.0 doesn't disappoint here. Everything looks sharper, the colors are vivid, there's excellent use of CGI, and lighting is distinctly excellent. The new art creates a level of detail that simply could not be done with the original anime series. The landscape looks wondrous, and luckily the Evas and Angels haven't experienced any problems with having digital animation techniques used on them. This movie is heavy on the visual eye candy and it's wonderful considering how dated the art is for the anime series.
Sound - 10/10
It becomes apparent quickly that the experience of the voice cast has helped returning actors perform better than they did before, and replacing plenty of vocal talent for the minor roles has removed a previously existing flaw in the voice department. One thing I will say is I'm not sure what to think about the replacement for Gendo Ikari. The original performance behind the character had a certain tone to it and even though he was stereotypically emotionless often, it seemed more fitting than what we have now. Gendo still seems like a jerk but not nearly as big of one, and even has some feeling behind his words at times. This is however, the only character I felt could possibly be a flawed performance vocally. Everyone else is an improvement. Spike Spencer fixes some flaws he had early on with some line delivery. The "I musn't run away" line is great when before it was anything but. Shinji feels much less whiny and the difference in the performance actually had me enjoying his character more. Brina Palencia serves as the new voice of Rei Ayanami, and this was another case of putting more emotion behind a previously stoic and quiet character. Unlike Gendo however, these subtle changes for Rei seem warranted, and again I found myself enjoying a character that I previously had no feeling for due to new lines and a new actor.
The best part of the sound is by far, the OST. Old classics are reworked and the new operatic tracks are absolutely fantastic. These new songs create a very epic sense of atmosphere when they play and it could not be more suitable for a movie with gigantic robots and monsters fighting for the outcome of humanity. It's really something when some fresh music can enhance scenes you've seen before, but that's what happens here.
Characters - 8/10
This was a hard category to score since this movie retells the first six episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion, which means some characters aren't here or haven't been delved into. Certain scenes are left out and a few changes felt like they took away from certain aspects of the character development. In light of this, I did mention already that there were changes that made me enjoy characters more than I did before, certainly at the same point of watching episodes in the anime. Shinji feels more natural, and he isn't developing any faster but he just seems more believable. Rei seems much more human, but there's still a bit of mystery there and it will be interesting to see what becomes of her. Misato having lingering issues is brought up early on but she seems like the one who could be sacrificed in the character development area due to more focus on hitting notes with the pilots that were missed in the original anime. This movie does a good job delving into the same psychological issues that the show was famous for with it's characters, but overall it feels like there is less of a focus on the psychoanalysis.
Overall - 9/10
I do think a better effort could have been made to make this movie stand on it's own. Sure, we know it's part of a tetralogy and it's only telling a portion of the episodes, but give it a definite ending. It's such a cliffhanger and another thing that will get different reaction based on whether or not viewers have already watched the series. Even then, many will say this is what Evangelion should have been, but that will remain to be seen. Even if this is just a sexy new coat of paint on an anime classic, Evangelion 1.0 is still worth watching. It's full of the large scale battles that were a spectacle before, and every technical aspect it could improve on is a success.