Friday, October 2, 2015

Fantastic Fest 2015 Movie Review: ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM

Assassination Classroom.
Director: Eiichiro Hasumi.
Writer: Tatsuya Kanazawa, based on the manga by Yusei Matsui.
Actors: Ryosuke Yamada, Masaki Suda, and Ninoyima Kazunari. 

Sometimes you hear of a movie's premise, and you think it must be a joke. That's what Assassination Classroom is like when I first heard of it.

The basic premise is that a powerful yellow tentacle creature who destroyed 70% of the moon is now threatening to destroy the Earth by March. But for some strange reason, he makes a bargain with the Japanese government: he will become the teacher for the misfit class 3E from Kunugigaoka Middle School, and teach them in the ways of assassination so they can attempt to kill him thus averting the earth's destruction. It also doesn't help that the teacher, named Koro Sensei/UT aka "Unkillable Teacher," has a big smiley face as a head and can move at Mach 20 speed, create clones of himself, and fly.

What makes this movie work is how serious the characters are regarding the situation. Not only that but through the course of the movie you end up caring about the characters and the relationship they have with Koro Sensei. That's pretty weird because, you know, he wants to destroy the earth and all of that but the movie commits and sells you on the bond.

While Koro Sensei is this vibrant and colorful presence both literally and figuratively, the kids in the classroom all fall into some broad stereotype of a school movie. You have the sensitive protagonist in Nagisa (Yamada), the cool badass kid sitting in the back of the classroom, Karma (Suda) and various bully jock types and then mostly background characters.

On the other hand, the movie is drop dead funny. There's just something so funny about a teacher who is helping a classroom of middle schoolers try to figure out how they can kill him. There are so many times when the students are trying out crazy plots on how to kill him, botching them all, yet all the while Koro Sensei is praising them for their ingenuity.

The movie does struggle a bit to find its plot beyond the premise. The main antagonist proves to be a little random and out-of-nowhere and never seemed like a convincing threat. In addition, since this is part of an ongoing series and there was a sequel already announced, this felt more like a pilot than a full-fledged movie. Hopefully that can be corrected next time around.

Still, Assassination Classroom does have a lot of sweet moments that show Koro Sensei's humanity and the bond that he develops with his students. He is a committed teacher that not only wants to teach them how to kill him but also how to be successful, well-rounded adults, hell he even flies all of them to different parts of the world. This figures in greatly because they are considered societal misfits that won't amount to anything so him choosing the class to mentor is a very rebellious and subertive act.

Despite the few complaints Assassination Classroom is one of the best times you could have in a theater this year. It's surprisingly full of heart and it makes you root for the slightly demented creature that will destroy the planet.