Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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An hilariously bizarre Lord of the Flies meets The Wizard of Oz adventure that totally would have been my favourite movie ever if I had seen it when i was a kid.
The Mist meets Lord of the Flies. Some of this movie approaches the madness of Hausu, but it never really gets to that level. What makes Hausu so amazing is how completely over-the-top it is. When Obayashi holds back like this, it's closer to camp. Japanese guys writing for and directing American children is a recipe for terrible acting and dialogue. But despite its campiness, it is pretty imaginative and bizarre, and sometimes really funny.
This is director Nobuhiko Obayashi's adaptation of Kazuo Umezu's popular manga series, Andrzej Zulawski had nothing whatsoever to do with it despite the Flixster info above. Their capsule description is for Zulawski's L'amour braque (1985). There is also no official dvd release as mentioned, although VIZ Media has finished releasing the full manga in English.
It concerns the staff and students of an international elementary school whose building falls through a time slip during a mysterious earthquake. Unfortunately, it drastically compresses the manga, alters the tone significantly and narrows its scope.
My best guess is that this adaptation was trying for too general of a popular audience. The cast of English-speaking and dubbed child actors is only outdone in badness by the non-acting of Troy Donahue - He who partly inspired Phil Hartman's Troy McClure character on The Simpsons.
Which would not be so bad if the manga's exciting and complicated story was onscreen, or if the conflicts seemed at all genuine. Instead, we have the tykes constantly mugging for the camera and breaking into impromptu song and dance numbers.
The film establishes the idiocy early on, with Donahue arriving by cycle and pulling off his helmet to reveal foot-high, comically spiky hair. The kids soon break into song, which is thankfully relieved by/the cause of the cataclysmic descent of their building into a dystopian future wasteland.
There is a hilariously effeminate Anglo child actor sadly miscast as Mark, the soccer jock romantic interest. He constantly gives lisping protest that their likely fatal circumstances have more importantly interfered with his, "Big Game". It's really the fault of the casting director, as is the sight of Donahue facing away from camera and blandly intoning his key lines into a matte painting.
But I do not want to discourage anyone from seeking out other works by these two great artists. Obayashi's early experimental films are outstanding, as are many of his other adaptations such as Yasutaka Tsutsui's Toki o kakeru shojo/The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and the soon-to-dvd Hausu.