I, much like millions of other people who have phones and laptops use Stumbleupon, and whenever i come across a page that lists “10 best movies you’ve never seen” or “10 movies that you need to see before you die”, without fail Battle Royale will be somewhere on that list.
I hate to use this term, it’s so pretentious, it stifles conversation, and is much too often used in place of any real arguments or valid points against the subject being discussed. I promised myself that i would never use it, as it suggests that my opinions are somehow better than everyone else’s. But out of all the films i have watched, i think it best suits Battle Royale:
It’s Over Rated.
It is dreadfully over rated. Now if you happen to love the film, i’m not saying that’s a wrong thing to do as there is plenty to like for certain people. just hear me out here, and i will explain. This is going to be a bit different from my other reviews, no good or bad here, just…
When i was first told about Battle Royale by a co-worker, my interest was admittedly piqued by the concept of having teenagers forced to compete and kill each other. The fact that it was also recently unbanned from sale in North America for its violence also raised my interest in it. As the film started i expected it to have something meaningful to say. I mean with a core concept like the one it had, and its cult following, i felt it was only right that it did. Well, i was definitely let down by the end.
It asked some questions sure, but none of them are really interesting to me. Maybe its cultural differences, but i honestly just didn’t see a reason for this existing other than it just being another violent film, in a world filled with violent films. Questions like “would you be able to kill your best friend?” are completely and utterly worthless of my time to contemplate as i already no the answer to that*, and such a simplistic question ignores so many variables many of which are impossible.
I also said in my review for A New Hope, that teenagers are boring people. It’s hard to make interesting characters out of people who just haven’t lived very interesting lives, due to the very nature of them not being around very long. Yes, there are exceptions to that, but that isn’t the case here. What motivates these kids other than the obvious will to live? Well here, it’s just and endless parade of secret crushes, broken hearts, and love-lorn hopeless romantics and that shit gets old.
The concept itself is ridiculous, when placed under real world circumstances. I can see in the world of The Hunger Games that such a show exists (i’ve never seen that movie either), but in Battle Royale it would appear that the world is more or less the same one i know it to be. I’m sorry, but a game show like this would never happen on this planet.
As for it being banned, i really don’t see what the big deal is. Sure it has teenagers killing each other, but the only thing we haven’t seen was that they were forced to do so. But since they are just so bland and uninteresting as people, it really isn’t anything special. As for the level of violence, i’ve seen people killed on-screen in horribly sadistic ways, nothing here was shocking. In fact, i felt more queasy watching Mr. Blonde cut off that cop’s ear than with anything on display here.
Lastly, i’m going to guess that much of my disinterest in the film stems from my complete and total lack of acting out, or rebelling as a teenager. Sure i had teenage angst, i was confused about who i was, what i would do with myself, and i was as horny as you could imagine a 16 year old to be. But those days are gone. Completely i might add. I don’t have a fondness for any of those feelings, just like all of the high school drama (and high school in general) we all went through. It was fickle, it doesn’t count for shit, it doesn’t matter anymore and really it never did. Here in Battle Royale it seems the film makers are still hating on their parents* for making them get up early to go to school, or for not getting the Christmas presents they wanted.
It’s easy to think that i hated the movie, given the paragraphs above, but i really didn’t. I’m just sick of seeing it thrown out there as some sort of masterpiece of cinema. It’s well acted, it’s well paced, it has some fun to watch action set pieces, and some great moments of sadistic humour. But it’s not worth any serious contemplation. I feel that’s mostly because i watched it at the age of 25 instead of 15. I’ve outgrown it completely.
Now, some people may love it, and if you as a viewer do too, you have every right to do so. Just don’t try to convince me otherwise.
**1/2 OUT OF FIVE
*the answer is no. Fuck no. I am incapable of such an act, and ridiculous scenarios like the one in this film will never ever happen. Ever.
** I also never, hated my mom. Ever. I was keenly aware of how hard it was to raise my sister and I on just a couple bucks more than minimum wage. Ya, i was angry at her many times. But just like everything else it was pretty irrelevant in the long run.