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When a film trilogy is created, its second installment is almost expected to be the hardest and most crucial element. When a recap trilogy is released, it's almost an expectation that the second film is the weakest one. As such, even if the first recap film of a tv series succeeds, one must look at the second with trepidation. The grand finale is saved for last, so the bulk of the narrative that film 1 didn't cover and that isn't the home stretch will be rushed tremendously. This is why -especially for longer series- a 4 part structure would be much better. Code Geass Movie 2 manages to be the perfect way to illustrate its point and then some, failing both due to this structure and due to other issues. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------Spoilers Ahead---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------This was inevitably going to be a weaker product than the first. Not only is this because of the problems inherent in the 3 film recap structure and what had to be cut, but also because the messy nature of the original material at this point, with the final ⅓ of Geass 1 being its shoddiest portion and R2 in general being incredibly clumsy. I could accept that. I could accept the fact that the nature of Geass 1 having to do as much and cut out as much as it did would make Euphemia’s death scene with Suzaku, and therefore Suzaku’s vengeful drive, less effective. It did remove most of Euphamia’s scenes with Suzaku, gutting their relationship. I could deal with all of this if they found a way to treat this issue with tact instead of skipping important scenes, relegating explanations to offhand dialogue in conversations, making baffling decisions on what to keep and what not to alter, and forgetting what a fucking transition is! This goes beyond the typical failures of the second recap installment! Why would they still try to act like Euphamia’s death hurt Suzaku as much as it did in the original series given that they did not establish these two as lovers in this trilogy? Why make it so Suzaku can magically sense C.C’s presence inside the Gawain? Why alter and remove Lelouch losing his composure and haphazardly telling his subordinates to take over after Nunally was kidnapped? While they thankfully didn’t go as hard on Nina’s bomb insanity at the school given what was cut out, why didn’t they remove that entirely or at least alter it so that she decided to start making bombs for the Britannian military? Who thought removing the entirety of the events of R2 episode 1 was a good idea! That was essential to making the second half of this film even remotely function, and they skipped it and tried to justify it with two throwaway lines. Now there are several damning questions regarding that integral moment and afterwards, none of which were an issue in R2. Why would they not show what made Jeremiah go turncoat? Given their alterations, all they had to do was have Lelouch reveal himself to Jeremiah and have the original scene play out as it did but with new context. Why was the new footage of Oghi confronting Viletta handled with the level of tact you’d expect from trash like Darling in the FranXX? Why did they not let scenes have breathing room to transition? Why when V.V crashed and everyone was standing by, did they immediately follow up with him already at the door that was likely far away, with him about to die? Why didn’t they have a scene in between of Lelouch going to and entering the door that led to the Sword of Akasha? So many of these were simple fixes, some of which were integral to making this film even remotely function with the broken pieces of what it was adapting. Now we must move onto the problems I originally anticipated, and what else would have only been natural issues given the structure. The Eupheminator section was even worse now that the context of Lelouch and Euphemia meeting at Kimine island, and the Mao arc’s foreshadowing of the already disgustingly convenient Geass breakdown in the Eupheminator section, were both removed. They made the scene of Charles somehow observing the Eupheminator incident get delayed by a few minutes for little reason; they could have just removed it at that point given that it didn’t serve much of a purpose. I did anticipate Suzaku’s role in that part not changing, but again, this was a simple fix: just make him act more like a friend than a lover to Euphemia and make him angry that Zero was such a manipulator who tainted his partner’s noble goals. This was part of why he was angry in the original so they only needed that. The entirety of the collapse of the Black Rebellion was truncated, but that didn’t excuse the poor editing around this point that massively required transitions -such as Lelouch departing and telling his people to fend for themselves-. The scene of Lelouch’s reveal and capture was far less effective given the structure of this film. Simply put, it’s basically two truncated films merged into one, given that the most climactic portion, the finale and subsequent cliffhanger of R1, was placed right before the middle. It inevitably led to a terribly awkward structure that made the movie feel like it began again in the middle, establishing what the beginning of R2 did with some changes here and there. Every new character introduced here is as lame or even weaker than you remember them, except for Bismark, who actually gets more focus here than in the original. Even Lelouch got downgraded due to their surprisingly malicious and sadly rushed interpretation of him. Given that Lelouch’s bomb in the final act of the film was there to blow up Rolo’s mech in order to take down V.V once he landed, the fact that what appears to be the exact same button was used in order for the Gawain to shoot out mirrors in order for Lelouch to Geass Charles, is disconcerting. They still kept C.C’s mental regression into the slave girl she was before getting the Geass, for no good reason. Lastly, they did not need to go to episode 41 of the original material, effectively covering 25 episodes worth of content, half the episode count of the original. This was far too much to cover, hence why this film felt like it was 2 films crammed into one. Adding onto that, this meant they had ended up diving into the part where R2 began truly crumbling into pieces. It honestly should have been two films in order to salvage everything past the 30 minute mark, and so that most of this would not have happened.------------------------------------------------------------------------No spoilers beyond this point----------------------------------------------------------------------------- In spite of all this, I cannot be too angry at this film. The primary reason being the new footage present. These films do an exceptional job at plugging up certain holes from the original story, cutting out certain portions that were unfavorable, strengthening the core narrative, and bolstering the relationships of every family member of Lelouch, sans Euphemia. This film is especially exceptional at that. For starters, it addressed Lelouch’s lack of structure with the Black Knights by outlining each important members’ roles and whatnot. Lelouch and Suzaku’s lack of punishment for frequently ditching school for their roles in the grander narrative, was addressed as well. The writers added scenes of Lelouch’s family members talking to each other, either casually, about what to do about a recent event, or about their disagreement with each other’s goals -specifically Charles and Schneizel remarking negatively about each other’s goals to their subordinates-. There was so much new content added in, with almost all of it going out of its way to fix some of the issues present in the original material, even outside of what was mentioned. Despite how bad this film may be, the new scenes and what they did deserve to be commended, proving that the team did know what they were doing sometimes. As such, there no further mention of them in specifics or in influence here, beyond the direction they took with Shirley being a nice gesture that saved time, and the continuation of their more intimate and loving interpretation of C.C and Lelouch’s relationship. The visuals are even better than they were before. The new scenes manage to blend in even better than those of the previous film did, and R2’s inferior production values did not hinder the film as much, given that next to no badly done CGI was present until the final 20 minutes of the film. The directing by Gorou Taniguchi excelled here, with far more usage of interesting camera angles and movement -next to none of which were present in the original beyond possibly one moment towards the end with C.C- to ramp up the conveyed tension present in the new scenes in particular. Said new scenes were even more plentiful than before, often shining a light on the modified direction the narrative took here. It's just a shame the rest of the narrative wasn't handled with such care.What was taken care of was the music. While the mediocre first ending theme of Geass was used as the opening for this movie, the ending was an entirely new song (The Moon" by Sakura Fujiwara) which not as good “Only Red is Missing” from the previous film, is still a good song. There were a few tracks I wish I heard but the soundtrack is still as wonderful as ever. On top of that, there were some new tracks added in that also worked well, both vocal and instrumental. That's only to be expected at this point so I'm glad the film didn't underwhelm me there too.Code Geass Movie 2 was a massive disappointment. It not only had to deal with the typical issues of a second recap installment, but the ways it botched up its already wrecked material obliterated this film on a structural and content writing level. Every concern I had and more came to pass. After the first film did such a wonderful job adapting the first ⅓ of the show, this had no excuse to be this subpar, material quality aside. Given that the final film only needs to cover 9 episodes now instead of 13-16 or up to 25, maybe there is potential for this trilogy to be salvaged. Given how badly this one panned out, what this may do to the next installment, and what it has to adapt, we best pray for a miracle.
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