I couldn't believe it when I looked on Rotten Tomatoes and saw the Tomatometer all the way up to 86% for Battle Royale after having just struggled through its 2+ hours of amateur acting, nonsensical plot, and devastatingly lame dialogue.
The premise, a batch of 7th grade kids being forced to fight each other to the death on some deserted island, is extremely underdeveloped. Why are these kids even here in the first place? They're told it's because "They were disrespectful to their elders. Also, the world is a game that they must play," or some epic load of crap like that. Yeah, it's that kind of movie. The kind that wants you to think it has a great plot hiding somewhere off-screen, but is, in actuality, as clueless as to why any of this is happening as you are.
And don't get me wrong, I'm okay with watching really bad movies, because B-movies are usually played off as a joke and thrive in their own cheesiness. They know they're bad. What makes me not okay with watching Battle Royale is how pretentious it is. It's like the director was convinced that what he was making would be a thought-provoking masterpiece, toting a message of a ruminating wisdom that would really impact its viewers. Not with that script, buddy. You can tell it's trying so, so very hard to be profound and deep, but when characters are spending their last words on lines like, "You look really cool, Hiroki," and "These cookies are really good," it's hard to take anything else the movie has to say seriously.
Besides the wonky "plot," the characters were pretty forgettable. With 41 kids to kill off in a couple hours, you can probably imagine there isn't much character back story or development for any of them. And you're right! You don't know anything about anybody! Oh wait, my bad, we're shown that some of them play basketball. Sweet. So as I watched the movie, I had very little emotional investment in any of the melodramatic little kids running around shooting each other repeatedly in the chest, and stabbing each other in the genitals. I began wishing that the whole damn island would erupt in a rapturous flame that would purge my soul of the frustration that had been mounting up inside of me from the get go of the stinking heap of trash that is Battle Royale.
But here are some good things about the movie:
- It's over and I never have to watch it again.
- It instills a new respect for American films in its viewers.
- You'll laugh, you'll scream, and you'll cry. Not for the right reasons, though.
May the odds be ever in your favor, because if they are, you'll never wind up having to watch this movie, and that is a very, very good thing.