Eric Lees’s review published on Letterboxd:
You know that feeling you get when you finish a film?
When you are left petrified by what you just witnessed?
When you look up to the stars, buckle to your knees, and mutter, "That was the greatest thing I ever witnessed in my life...."
When you finally finish Neon Genesis Evangelion?
To call The End of Evangelion the most profound film ever made is an understatement. EoE is a turbulent masterpiece of emotion, depth, horror, and religious damnation. People wham on this film by saying "It's not deep! It's nonsensical!" and while it is true a first viewing is the most overwhelming and seemingly incomprehensible thing ever, once you let iy sink in, allow Evangelion to consume your life, calm down, stop trying to kill yourself, and actually sit through the film, watch the Director's Cut episodes, maybe read a few paragraphs on backstory, and pay close attention, it is actually a very very linear film. Exceptions to the final scene though I'll get to that later.
Remember how I said in my review Evangelion was "the 2001 of tv/anime"? It's only more true and solidified come End of Evangelion.
From high tech mecha fights to deep horrifying philosophy and what-not, Hideaki Anno creates the most beautiful, yet grotesque ending conclusion to one of if not THE greatest modern-day saga ever made, Neon Genesis Evangelion. In the anime, there's a rather sharp tonal shift as the anime becomes less of kicking monster ass and becomes a disturbing and claustrophobic view on what Man constitutes and what exactly IS religion in our minds. Anno brings forth all-out action to jaw-dropping views of Third Impact/Instrumentality Project to eradicate the Earth and bring a startling new genesis for human-kind. The fate of mankind lies in Shinji's hands, and that's not much a guarantee for humanity's salvation at all. Here the series has lost all recognition, now being a relentless saga of brutal shocking gore and depraved psychoanalysis.
In this film, nay, this artistic masterpiece, there is an enormous emotional flowing, where all kind of extreme feelings get together in the best way possible. We absorb the most sincere demonstrations of despair, grief, lost of hope, emotional and physical pain, insanity, and all together with some subtle moments of melancholic happiness. This "emotional flowing" has a perfect background of images, actions and sceneries, and there are some complex ideas that force us to reflect about our own lives after seeing the dramatic and ultimate ending from this movie. It truly leads us to despise the cold and obscure truth of the futile existence that humanity is taking.
This is greatly helped by its enormous and perfectly developed cast of characters. I'd be damned if there was anyone on this planet who did not relate to the original mental corruption of every character. They all have something going on in their heads, and show to us that even in animated film no one is perfect.
This beloved cast makes the film all the more harder to watch. Quite an End this truly is. I'd be a fool if I could find a more morally corrupt and haunting ending in television or film. It makes you feel empty, depressed, and in some reported cases even suicidal. It's perfectly okay to hate the film due to this. In fact, it's almost expected. EoE is as dense as it gets, one of the hardest pills to swallow. To accept it, you must accept the moral corruption and sinful religious indoctrination that exists within all of society.
It's not nonsensical wholly though it does have its unfair share of obscurity to the audience and was created to polarize fans of the anime. It is impossible to understand everything, especially first viewing and there is so much in it you find new things and views every time this is watched. So far I understand everything leading up to the actual End (The final 4 minutes), which is just, oh, oh man....
This is a spoiler free review, but THIS ending, it's just. I can't put it into words. In mere minutes Anno turns our brains to mush and our souls over to Hell and back. This ending is as unhappy as it gets, and there are entire groups of people who despise the film because of it. Let me ask this, this is an anime set in a post apocalyptic near-wasteland of scrapped together "futuristic" cities that are more like fortresses trying to prevent the inevitable. How can you have a happy ending when life as we know it ended 15 years prior? Despite this, I still find myself polarized by the film, and I question whether or not it was necessary to go THAT dark, or even some could say "THAT deep"
Is it "2DEEP4U The Movie"? No, that's an unfair label. However, you do need your fair share of knowledge on religion and philosophy to uncover the entire series. I found myself scourging through various religious texts trying to make sense of it all, and it all paid off. The series doesn't use religion as a means of shoving it down the audience's throat, it uses it to craft some great analogies, symbols, and imagery relating to all religious texts of Christianity, Judaism, Muslim, and many more. The stunning animation only pushes it, and if animated films can have "cinematography" this ranks among the Top 10 in film.
I don't think I have ever been more traumatized by a film, and there were many sleepless nights after watching it where I imagined the horrific events of the film, watching everyone I cared for explode into LCL and watch giant Angels wreck havoc on the souls of the planet, living and dead. It's vulgar, it's disturbed, it's shocking, it's enlightening, it's poetic, it's beautiful, it's art. It's all subjective and is still one of the most polarizing film I have ever had discussions with, truly a "love it or hate it" scenario. If you love Evangelion and want to see a deep and profound ending that will make you question all of existence, or simply are a deep respecter of art and film, you'll love it. For anyone else though, just step back into your Sea of LCL...