Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wow! Great! Wash Your Face and Try Again... in 3D Next Time!

bande annonce - Battle Royale 3D バトル・ロワイアル3D 予告編
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BR in 3D. That's right! Toei Company has converted the cult classic Battle Royale into current gimmick format 3D for a November 20th release. I suppose as a 3D skeptic and Battle Royale super-fan I should be outraged or something, but I'm not. I'm happy the movie is getting a re-release. As much as I love this movie, it's not exactly a work of art. We're not talking colorizing Citizen Kane here, and we've already seen special editions and a crappy sequel. Battle Royale is a pulp movie all the way, meant to be watched through partially-closed fingers or else clinging in fear to someone's letterman sweater-- that's how I first experienced it, and man, that guy was pretty angry and surprised-- in a rocking theater full of drunks and carnival rowdies. So I applaud anything that puts it back on the big screen.

My only concern is the visual quality. The movie's cinematography is already on the murky side, and from what I understand, 3D conversions sometimes further darken images. Apparently, that was one of the many, many, many, many, many failings of M. Night Shyamalan's much-derided Last Airbender fiasco. What's the point of a movie known for its groovy ultra-violence by the likes of Aki Maeda, Kou Shibasaki and Chiaki Kuriyama if we can't see all the gore?

By the way, the local Books-A-Million has volume one of Tokyo Pop's hardcover Battle Royale Ultimate Edition. Battle Royale is one of those rare cross-media events where I actually prefer the movie to either the prose novel or the manga. The novel and the comic lack Maeda, Shibasaki and Kuriyama for starters.

But more importantly, I find the novel's English translation flaccid. It doesn't help that the plot is pretty repetitive-- unless you like detailed descriptions of weaponry followed by flatly-written death scenes, forty or so of them. It's been a while since I read it, but it was a slog and I'm not sure what happened to my copy. Big disappointment.

The comic, with Keith Giffen's localization, more than makes up for the book's dullness by turning almost every character into an over-the-top deviant, pervert or baby whore. To call the results lurid is to understate them. I tried to hold out long enough to reach the Takako Chigusa sequence-- that's where Chiaki Kuriyama made her cinematic bones and earned the part of Gogo Yubari in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill-- but gave up in despair and disgust a chapter or so short of my goal.

The movie more wisely generates pure horror by depicting most of the kids-- with a few notable exceptions-- as pretty much your average, ordinary 9th graders. After all, its tagline is, "Could you kill your best friend?" Sure, if she's a psychotic extortionist and casual murderer who pimps me out to yakuza hoods. I'd kill her twice! But otherwise? No, definitely not.

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