20-seiki shônen: Honkaku kagaku bôken eiga (20th Century Boys 1: Beginning of the End) (2008)




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

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
Art House & International , Science Fiction & Fantasy
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Critic Reviews for 20-seiki shônen: Honkaku kagaku bôken eiga (20th Century Boys 1: Beginning of the End)

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (1)

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.

Full Review… | February 19, 2009
Time Out
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.

Full Review… | May 31, 2010
Eye for Film

Not quite science fiction and as surreal a conspiratorial epic as you'll find, this dense thriller has a distinctively Japanese sensibility.

Full Review… | January 9, 2010

We're being reminded of the banality of evil, but that only slightly raises the IQ of Yukihiko Tsutsumi's film.

Full Review… | February 26, 2009
Sunday Times (UK)

The dramatic premise is ingenious and there are two future lengthy episodes to come. But I was often baffled.

Full Review… | February 26, 2009
Observer (UK)

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

February 26, 2009
Little White Lies

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

I didn't know what to think going into this. I had been watching previews of it for nearly a month on TVJapan(NHK). It looked like a cheesy scifi attempt. However, when it aired i was floored. The story had intrigue, and there was very likable characters. I was not familiar with the story before I watched it. So that was a treat. At first I really didnt know what was happening, and then it came together. by the end you really dont realize that you had sat there for nearly 2.5 hours. It left you with questions. Many questions. And I was a little angry, because I was unaware of the sequels. But shortly after it finished NHK showed the trailer for the 2nd chapter. I really enjoyed it.

Robert Farley
Robert Farley

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 Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer


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 Wilson
Alexander Wilson

Super Reviewer

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