20-seiki shônen: Honkaku kagaku bôken eiga (20th Century Boys 1: Beginning of the End)

Critics Consensus

An overlong Japanese sci-fi epic with flashy visuals but a disjointed and frustrating approach to narrative.



Total Count: 12


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,012
User image

Movie Info

A burned-out rocker discovers his doom-struck adolescent fantasies are coming true in this futuristic thriller from Japan. Ever since his career as a musician crashed and burned, Kenji (Toshiaki Karasawa) has been making a living working at a quick-stop store and living with his family. One day, police officers stop by and ask Kenji about a family of regular customers who've gone missing, though Kenji has hardly noticed their absence. When Kenji visits the home of the missing family, he notices a strange piece of graffiti on the wall, and is startled when he remembers it was the symbol of a club of teenage misfits he belonged to years ago. Kenji and his friends in the club created an amateur comic book that imagined an apocalyptic future in which strange illnesses and bands of armed insurgents threatened to destroy the world. As a wave of unexplained murders sweeps through the city, overseas the events of Kenji's old comic are beginning to come true; a fanatical cult known as Friend found the book and under the leadership of Sadakiyo they've made it their business to turn it into a reality, and now Kenji and his old friends have to infiltrate the cult and stop them before it's too late. 20-seiki shonen (aka 20th Century Boys) was adapted from a best selling manga by Naoki Urasawa and became a major box office hit in Japan. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi


Critic Reviews for 20-seiki shônen: Honkaku kagaku bôken eiga (20th Century Boys 1: Beginning of the End)

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (4) | Rotten (8)

  • 20th Century Boys has an excellent pedigree, a huge budget behind it, and a more than competent cast -but it doesn't quite work.

    Feb 26, 2009 | Rating: 2/5
  • The original may have sold 20m copies but they should have kept creator Naoki Urasawa away from this script - whole swathes ought have been gutted, making for a very long and unfailingly shallow 142 minutes.

    Feb 20, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Cath Clarke

    Top Critic
  • The ideas are fun, there are some striking design ideas (the villain's commonplace-yet-freaky mask), yet the clogged storytelling just doesn't make enough of them. Shame.

    Feb 19, 2009 | Rating: 2/6 | Full Review…
  • It's mildly interesting but inelegantly structured, unfolding through a mess of flashbacks and shocking overacting.

    Feb 19, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Tsutsumi...dazzles us with so many balls in the air, so many twists and turns, that there is not enough room left for his characters to develop as believable, interesting people, as opposed to comicbook archetypes.

    May 31, 2010 | Full Review…
  • Not quite science fiction and as surreal a conspiratorial epic as you'll find, this dense thriller has a distinctively Japanese sensibility.

    Jan 10, 2010 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for 20-seiki shônen: Honkaku kagaku bôken eiga (20th Century Boys 1: Beginning of the End)

  • Jul 04, 2010
    Somewhere between Twelve Monkeys and It, rests this rather brilliant epic, sic-fi, Japanese thing. And it's absolutely Japanese, from the fight choreograhpy to the "end of the world via giant robot" spiel. But it's strength lies in it's writing and the way it slowly reveals itself - much like "Friend", by way of flashbacks to a childhood game that one of them took to the extreme. Recommended for anime/manga fans.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 24, 2009
    This is a pretty good movie. I've been watching a few Asian movies at the moment and fit right in there. Its a quite clever story that I have not heard or seen before and I enjoyed it. If only the acting was more improved and the special effects directing was not at all jaw dropping.
    Alexander W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 28, 2008
    Yukihiko Tsutsumi gets the honor of bringing the popular <i>20th Century Boys</i> manga to life. As you may have guessed, T. Rex's famous song, "20th Century Boy" is an inspiration for this.<p>At 2 hours and 20 minutes, this movie alone is not enough, which is why this live action adaptation is only the first chapter with an ending that indicates a chapter 2. One of the disappointing aspects of this movie is that it takes a while to pick up because a lot of time is spent on the character buildup and the story background. This isn't a bad thing, but the film seems pretty uneventful for more than the first hour. Nonetheless, the buildup is nicely done and important, albeit attention is required.</p><p>The film spans multiple decades. We are talking from the 1960s up to the year 2014, with the bulk of it taking place in the 90s and 2000. Why am I mentioning this? Well, the film jumps around a bunch, which in the beginning, makes the characters a little difficult to follow and remember. There are a good number of characters by the way. On the positive side, the jumping around in time keeps the story interesting.</p><p>Eventually the second half of the film focuses on the older versions of the characters as they reunite to fight evil. This is similar to Stephen King's <i>It</i>. The effects are nicely done and the only a few plot holes really hurt the latter segments.</p><p>Toshiaki Karasawa carries this film without a problem and most of the supporting cast do their jobs, including the beautiful Takako Tokiwa.</p><p><i>20th Century Boys</i> takes a while to get going, but it is interesting enough to make those that haven't read the manga want to.
    JY S Super Reviewer

20-seiki shônen: Honkaku kagaku bôken eiga (20th Century Boys 1: Beginning of the End) Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features