Sgt. Pepper (aka Johnny Kashmir)’s review published on Letterboxd:
As I write, I cannot help but reflect on how it’s been a year since I began my deep dive into the world of Evangelion. It would seem I was once again blessed by the accessibility of streaming entertainment that I didn’t have to wait for almost a decade if not longer for the conclusion of the mainline franchise and its bipolar entities. Obviously I’m under no pretense that we’ll never get more EVA content, as I’m sure Khara would love to stay aboard the gravy train, but in such a situation I think they might wisely opt to focus on entirely new characters if not timelines, as the conclusions that most characters get here feel satisfying and conclusive enough to preempt any need for revisiting.
The film sees Anno and company throw everything to the wall not in desperation but out of unbridled creative expression. The opening third of the movie, following a cold open action sequence in Paris, sees our trio unwind for a bit at a humble resurgent hamlet, each inching, if not striding, closer to a sense of renewal in the soul. It’s arguably the most compelling part of the film, taking obvious influence from forebearers such as Miyazaki, filling us in on how previous characters have made do with the apocalypse, and serves as a respite not only from the chaos of its immediate predecessor but also the near visual overload of the battle to come.
It appears at times that the film might threaten to crumble under its weight as it flings technobabble and decadent visuals around like a tornado, but one can’t help but be won over by its sheer ambition. As it swerves again toward a more meta direction that reconstructs the finales of previous Evangelion installments, the film once again finds a renewed stride. It certainly helps that the franchise’s collaborators also turn in solid work, from Shiro Sagisu’s score to the idiosyncrasies of the editing.
Despite its occasional unwieldy nature, Thrice Upon a Time works so well as a stand-alone installment that it almost singlehandedly retroactively elevates the previous Rebuild films, yielding a resolution that makes everything within those films the part of something greater. Though it arguably works as a standalone film despite the need for homework (it does graciously provide a quick review of the previous films), watching it in direct proximity with all its predecessors (including the original) just seems fitting. Thank you to Anno and everyone else for a year’s worth of my investment into this franchise.