Beware, there be SPOILERS ahead!
The movie begins with Asuka and Mari, piloting Evangelion Unit 02, and Unit 08 respectively retrieving Unit 01 from orbit while engaging the Nemesis series, artificial Angels created by Seele. Upon returning to Earth, Shinji is retrieved from Unit 01's entry plug and awakens from stasis inside the AAA Wunder. He realizes that everyone around him is treating him coldly, including Misato and
y Asuka that 14 years have past, and that Rei is gone. The Wunder is then attacked by Evangelion Mark .09. Hearing Rei's voice, Shinji calls out to her. The hand of the unit tears the ship's hull revealing itself. Shinji comments the resemblance to Unit 00 (which was devoured by the 10th Angel, Zeruel, in the last film). Misato threatens to activate the DSS Choker around his neck if he escapes. Shinji asks why they're attacking an Eva Unit. Misato reveals that they're an organization named Wille, which aims to destroy all of NERV's Eva Units. Shinji ultimately decides to run away. Just as they make their escape, Ritsuko urges Misato to activate the choker and kill Shinji, but she hesitates as he becomes out of signal range.
Upon returning to NERV, Shinji sees that it has been destroyed. He is soon reunited with his father, Gendo, who orders him to pilot the new Eva unit with Kaworu Nagisa. Over time, Shinji begins to open up and bond with Kaworu. Shinji is soon revealed that he was the cause of Third Impact by Kaworu, and the true fate of his mother, Yui Ayanami, by Fuyutiski. Not able to handle the guilt and realization, Shinji has a mental breakdown. Upon asking him to pilot and retrieve the Spears of Longinus and Cassius in order to reverse Third Impact, Shinji rejects Kaworu. In an act of trust, Kaworu miraculously takes off Shinji's DSS Choker and puts it on himself, saying that he will carry Shinji's burden. Through this, Shinji's faith in Kaworu is restored and agrees to pilot with him.
Evangelion Unit 13 and Mark .09 descend into Central Dogma where they find a beheaded Lilith, and Eva Mark .06 impaled by the two lances. Upon closer inspection, Kaworu realizes that the two lances are the same! Just then, Asuka in Unit 02 descends and begins attacking Unit 13. The Mark .09 repels Unit 02, but is shot down by Unit 08. Shinji begs Asuka to stop and allow him to fix everything. Asuka doesn't listen and tries to destroy Eva 13. However her Eva's battery runs out and Unit 13 continues approaching Lilith and Eva Mark .06. Kaworu begs him to stop, but Shinji takes full control of the Eva and pulls out the lances, which form into two Lances of Longinus. Lilith is reduced to a pool of LCL as the dormant 12th Angel is released from within Eva Mark .06. The 12th Angel forms a core around Eva 13. The Eva suddenly awakens and devours the 12th Angel. It then becomes a giant of light and ascends to the sky with the Mark .09 in pursuit. Mari comments that Unit 13 is one of the "surviving Adams."
Just as Fourth Impact initiates, the AAA Wunder rams Unit 13 in the hopes to destroying it. However the ship is attacked by the Mark .09 who regrows a new head and attempts to regain control of the vessel from Unit 01. Unit 02 boards the Wunder and activates its Beast Mode to battle the Mark .09 (hereby referred to as an Adams Vessel). Rei ejects herself from the Mark .09's entry plug just as Unit 02 fires its cannon into the Adams Vessel. However, it regenerates. In a final attempt to destroy it, Asuka activates Unit 02's self destruct system and ejects herself. In the meantime, Kaworu impales the lances into Unit 13, halting Fourth Impact. The DSS Choker around his neck activates and beheads him. Shinji is in shock as Eva 13 descends back to Earth. Mari in Unit 08 notes that the Doors of Guf have not closed yet and that Shinji is Seele's true backup. She leaps onto Unit 13 and force ejects Shinji's entry plug before slamming into the ground. Fourth Impact is averted, and the Wunder retreats with Ritsuko questioning on "who to thank" for preventing the fruition of the event.
Some time later, Asuka drags a nonreactive Shinji from his entry plug. Soon they're met up by Rei. Asuka comments that they're out of signal range of the Wunder and need to go where the Lilin are. The three begin wandering the red landscape in search of the Lilin.
END OF SPOILERS!
The first time I watched Evangelion 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo, I had mixed feelings about it. However, most of that was due to its departure from the familiar story that we're used to seeing and hearing from Evangelion. After the second and third watch I began to appreciate and applaud how the film takes the story and franchise in a new direction. The most notable difference between the movies and original series is the time skip. At this point in the series, Shinji was trapped within Unit 01 for three months since his battle with Zeruel and the unit's awakening. During that time, Ritsuko and Misato work to retrieve Shinji. However, in 3.33, the time skip is an astounding 14 years! This fact was kept shrouded from the public eye until the movie premiered. It certainly was a surprise, and was the first indication that this is no longer the same Evangelion story anymore.
I recall hearing that the Rebuild series is mean't to show Hideaki Anno's original intent for the Evangelion story, which he was unable to do due to budget cuts and time back when he was producing the original anime. In that regard, I can see many similarities between some aspects of 3.33 and one of his past works, Nadia: Secret of Blue Water. Not only do they have a huge vessel, but several of the musical numbers in the movie originally came from Nadia. Even the AAA Wunder has some design features that resemble Captain Nemo's Nautilus from the same series. I have no complaints about this aspect though. I find the inclusion of the AAA Wunder a unique aspect to the Rebuild series.
As for the characters themselves, Shinji certainly has the spotlight here in 3.33. This is his story. We're seeing events unfold through his perspective. Due to the nature of the film, Shinji's character experiences a "Fish out of Water" scenario where he thwarted into an unknown situation and everything that he was familiar with has turned onto itself. Characters such as Misato, Ritsuko, Mari, Asuka are very minor in this installment, only appearing in the first third of the film and the climax. Rei's character is given a little development. Being that she's a completely different character from the last movie, she has her own little development going on. She starts out being an obedient drone who does whatever she's told to, but after Shinji confronts her about not being the Rei he saved and resents her, she begins to question her existence and about her other self. Gendo has very limited screen time as well as Fuyutiski. Despite the latter's lack of presence, he still plays a vital role in the story in regards to revealing to Shinji the truth behind Gendo's motives.
The animation for this film is absolutely fantastic. Perhaps the best in the quartet so far! There is a natural flow to how the characters, vehicles, and the Evas move. The mixture of CG and traditional animation is pretty flawless and there are times when the two methods become undistinguishable and mesh together so well. What makes 3.33 pretty remarkable visually is that since this is a Post-Third Impact world, much of what we are familiar with is pretty much gone. The Earth is red, cities are in complete ruins, the blood stained moon fills the sky, Eva-like bodies litter the ground. It is very surrealistic. Also the scenes within Central Dogma are very haunting. Seeing all the giant beheaded skulls, and a head-less Lilith, one would wonder what happened in between 2.22 and 3.33. Hopefully that is answered in the next film or in spin-off material (if there will be any.)
Overall, after a few times seeing it, Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo is a fantastic entry into the Rebuild of Evangelion series. It is a certain departure from the original anime and becomes its own story. Sure, there are some elements from the original series and even The End of Evangelion. I eagerly await to hear any news on the fourth and final film! To conclude, this movie receives a personal 4/5 rating. It is epic, and fun to watch in HD. While there are many mysteries still wide open, this film presents a similar aura that 1.11 did. It put us in a world where nothing is familiar and we must learn about it in order to live in it and combat it.