*. This movie is usually considered to be one of the worst sequels of all time, and not without reason. It’s dreadful. I don’t want to waste much time on it here, as I think I’ve already wasted enough having watched it twice.
*. What was an interesting concept in Battle Royale is made into something jaw-droppingly stupid and incoherent. Apparently the best way to deal with a cadre of dangerous terrorists is to shanghai a “specially selected bunch of losers” out of high school into attacking them as part of a television game show.
*. The terrorist/rebel gang is, handily, based on a deserted island. So the government presumably could have just dropped a bomb on them and been done with it right at the start, despite what seem to be some minor issues of extraterritoriality. But then there wouldn’t have been a movie.
*. I know I said in my notes on Battle Royale that you have to suspend a lot of disbelief because basically what’s being presented is a kind of dream narrative or fantasy. That’s true as well here, but the dream angle is less developed and the things I have trouble with are too fundamental. I mean, what is the point of the new and improved Battle Royale program? Are they trying to kill the kids off or are they trying to take out the terrorists? I don’t think they can be realistically trying to do both.
*. I suppose the action sequences are well done. The beach landing is often likened to Saving Private Ryan. But the exploding collars that turn necks into clouds of red CGI mist only add to the sense that we’re watching a bunch of kids running around a paintball course.
*. Why is “Sensei” wearing a collar? Did I miss something important? I’ll admit, after a while I wasn’t paying close attention.
*. Much of the movie is unintentionally funny, the sort of thing you often get in a film that takes itself far too seriously. But Sensei’s spectacular rugby dive/head explosion at the end is truly in a class by itself. If there’s any reason for sitting through this whole movie, then that’s it.
*. Did this movie set a record for the number of death scenes with characters weeping or screaming next to their expiring loved ones? All, of course, as the music soars.
*. While the first movie presented the kids in a sympathetic light, here we have full-scale pandering to the teen audience, making the Wild Seven into heroic freedom fighters willing to make the supreme sacrifice for love or at least some cause greater than themselves. They all look fetching in their rebel couture, with Shuya in particular presented as a kind of emo guru given to pronouncements like “Truly living life is a hundred times harder than dying.”
*. I’ve nothing against the political message (that the terrorists might really be the good guys, fighting American imperialist oppression), and even found it a bit brave. But when delivered in such a ridiculous vehicle it’s made to seem equally ridiculous. A children’s crusade against imperialism?
*. My guess is that this has something more to say to young people in Japan than those in the West. Japanese culture is very hierarchical and authoritarian, or so I’m told, and the bursting of its economic bubble and subsequent lost decade-plus was followed by a certain amount of resentment toward the people in charge. Hence the struggle against adults here: that generation of authority figures who fucked everything up royally. The youngsters aren’t fighting corporate power or a totalitarian political regime, as is most often the case in these dystopic tales, but instead declaring war against grown-ups in general. Those damn boomers have a lot to answer for.