I had a lot of concerns going into the final film of this trilogy, most of which came from my fear of there being missing content everywhere from the manga. A concern I found dissipate quite swiftly as the film progressed. I was pleasantly surprised by it all, I will say. I feel i should note too, that a part of me began to wonder if this trilogy would become more centered around a returning audience rather than new viewers, but i think it's safe to say it's enjoyable for all. I will however, warn viewers interested in this film that it's not for those who don't do well with extreme levels of gore and sexual content. The gore especially can be a little unnerving for the most part.
The story starts a year after the events of The Battle of Doldrey end and quickly goes about getting back into the swing of things, with battles immediately. It doesn't really slow down from there too much either as for the most part, it sticks to what's made the series tick so well so far, it's focus on action. Battles are bloody and very well choreographed, with no slow down ensuring your adrenaline is pumping throughout. Guts makes sure heads are flying(and there is a good amount at that in this one, rest assured) while taking the majority of the limelight However, while guts ensures your gory combat needs are met, Casca's mental state before, during and after Griffith' rescue brings her to the forefront . Her emotions take a toll and it shows, with them fluctuating everywhere, she's a mess. It doesn't go unnoticed either, as it essentially acts as the ever developing rift between Guts and Griffith' friendship. This rift effectively brings about how “The Advent” comes to pass in all it's gory and bloody nature. Fans of gore will enjoy what's to come, while many others will find it very hard to stomach. However, while I say all this, there is still something...lacking. That something ends up being the rest of the characters and how much they are developed in general.
And that is where I think the problem with this lies and quite possibly the entire trilogy at that. It's a trilogy of feature films, so characterisation was always going to suffer a little. Guts, Griffith and Casca get a good amount of screen-time to develop as decent and strong enough characters, but for the general scope that the golden age covers, it's not enough. The secondary characters don't get enough coverage, and it hurts this film more than it should. The second half of this film is supposed to be quite a hard segment to watch, but understanding everyones' relationships to one another, the feeling of a “family” which Guts became a part of that should be weighing down heavily as “The Advent” takes place...doesn't. And that's a damned shame. The impact is lacking. That's not to say it's non-existent, it definitely isn't. It's just not there as much as it needs to be.
However, moving past all that, it's still able to bring out its best when the action is in full flow. You will be greeted with some fantastically animated battle sequences which will please you all to see. Which brings me to the animation, which starts to show signs of maturing here at long last. It has hiccups however, with one stand-out scene making me immediately think I should take hold of my PS3/Xbox 360 controller as it looked like a scene out of a game of that generation. A little off-putting to say the least. But you get moments where you can see where they learned to add more hand-drawn here or CG there to improve how things just look in motion. It still looks very experimental, but something I think can certainly work now i've seen it improve so quickly over the trilogy.
The music too, deserves a good mention. Shirou Sagisu does an amazing job with this one, making it even more cinematic and alluring to me. Coming off of stellar soundtracks from the Rebuild of Evangelion films and EVA itself though, I should've expected no less. He is able to capture the right emotions at the right time. What's more, the deliberate removal of any music at certain points like the scenes just before “The Advent” with Griffith help to capture the helplessness he feels for everything.
All in all. This film is the best of the three. It's attention to detail in battles, action-sequences and atmosphere is brilliant. While the main trio are covered decently well however, the loss of any major coverage for the supporting cast hinders what could've been a perfect finish for the trilogy. For those that are worried this will just "end", fear not, as the end of the film does finally cover more than the original TV series did, and does hint at more to come.
Oh, I do still wonder why the hell there is a music video at the end of the film however. It feels a little out of place.