Following the spectacular success of Saga of Tanya the Evil, a sequel in the form of a movie was released 2 years later. This film, generically titled “Saga of Tanya the Evil – the Movie –“, continues where the TV series left off, with The Empire victorious on the continent, yet bracing for a whole new fight on unfamiliar shores.
The TV series left us with many lingering threads that had to be resolved. The Empire had an enemy to pursue into Africa, the communists from the Russy Federation were looking to put a stop to The Empire’s expansionism, and the daughter of Tanya’s former rival had just joined the military in a quest to avenge her father. All interesting stuff, but the movie tries to do all of it at once, resulting in a bloated film clocking in at nearly 2 hours, that still feels rushed and incomplete.
The whole battle in Africa is dealt with in literal minutes and, afterwards, Tanya is off to the cold, Russian front where she effortlessly scores a major victory and proceeds to besiege and occupy Moscow with 0 opposition. Tanya has always been a powerful person, backed by a technologically superior, militarist nation and tactical knowledge about how the great war unfolded in our own world, but still it feels like the story is bending over backwards to hand her victories on a silver platter.
For example, the Russy Federation, led by a pedophile version of Stalin, has put all of its mages in death camps and gulags, leaving them without modern weapons to counter The Empire. For a real-world parallel, that would be like the Soviet Union scrapping all of its tanks and planes ahead of the German invasion. Similarly, the unit that new rival Mary signs up with is a platoon of absolute rookies literally interrupted in their basic training. Mary is even described by them as being astonishingly powerful, yet utterly incompetent, which leads to a ridiculous conclusion of the movie’s otherwise rad final battle.
It also feels a tad hypocritical. The TV show prevented itself from becoming too edgy for its own good by making its stand-in for Nazi Germany a generic, militarist superpower. It’s clear that Tanya is “evil”, but they didn’t want her to be a defender of fascism, death camps, and genocide. It wouldn’t fit her character, so instead it’s a war about prosperity, political might, and national security. To omit these darker themes from its Nazi Germany stand-in only to address them in its version of Russia feels manipulative, intentional or not.
Even the new ideas introduced in the movie itself don’t go anywhere, such as pedo-Stalin becoming obsessed with Tanya or Viktoriya being alluded to having a grudge against the Russy Federation. It’s just kind-of thrown in there without much follow-up.
Okay, fine, storytelling isn’t the movie’s strong suit, so what is? Well, it is a pretty darn good action movie. It ramps up the spectacle of the TV show’s battle scenes and we certainly weren’t bored while watching it. The final battle was especially satisfying, it being the first time in a while that anybody rivaled Tanya in the skies. For all its flaws, the story does also have some interesting moments that elaborate on Tanya’s character and goals, and adds some remarkably poignant commentary on warfare for a show that usually revels in its drama and violence.
The anthem scene was also a phenomenal highlight of the movie.
Ultimately, those who are invested in the ongoing saga will want to see the movie despite of its flaws, especially if they are banking on it ever getting a continuation. This is not a side-story after all; this is a proper sequel and I doubt a hypothetical season 2 would recap all of its events just to bring everybody up to speed. On the flipside, this movie won’t convince anybody who wasn’t interested in the series (or on the fence about it) to pursue it anyway, nor will it do much for anybody who has already had their fill of Tanya’s campaign of evil.