Fantasia Film Review: As The Gods Will

(Source: FUNimation)

(Source: FUNimation)

Here’s the other Takashi Miike movie on the 2016 Fantasia Film Festival that was not Terraformers.

As The Gods Will actually came out in 2014. It does have somewhat of a premise, Gods or aliens or illuminati – or just your favorite conspiracy villain – seem to holding the world hostage by making young high school kids around the world play sadistic yet infantile games in which there can be only one winner. It’s a death-match style carnage bringing to memory the classic Battle Royale mixed with Alice in Wonderland… or perhaps Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory should be more fitting. The point is that every game looks innocent and childlike but ends up in gore, blood and guts all around. There’s a riddle to be solve.

Shun Takahata (Sota Fukushi) barely makes it out of his classroom alive, where a daruma doll with a stop button keeps turning hoping to catch the next student in mid-movement just to make their heads explode. And I mean literally explode. Eventually he will be paired with smart bad boy Amaya Takeru (Ryonosuke Kamiki) and his childhood crush, Ichika Akimoto (Hirona Yamasaki). Knowing fully well only one can become the winner… Oh, let’s not try to sell it – you want to see this one already. You know how it’s all going to go down, but the chess-like-death-match-via-brain-twisters is unapologetic, unredeeming, violent fun.

Okey, yes. It’s batshit crazy and there’s not really a moment in the film when we pause and take note that kids (or young adults playing kids, really) are getting killed left and right. And that’s probably why too much thinking might turn you off from this one. There’s something to be said about making a live action movie where people die as entertainment. You gotta have a switch to understand why this entertainment should not be taken seriously because reasoning will not get you there. It’s a good thing then, that all deaths and games are created with over-the-top nightmare images. It’s a horror movie after all.

Highs: No apologies death match style where the motives are in the background and the gore fest is fast and furious. Fans of Battle Royale will feel right at home as well as gore fest aficionados. Ingenuity wins the day against brute force. Cheat carefully and you live a day more.

Lows: Requires a strong suspension of disbelief. It doesn’t ever address the game is basically making the death of high school kids into entertainment. There is no sarcasm or hidden moral lesson to discover. The PC crowd might not want to make it part of movie night.

Strictly recommended for fans of the genre, which is a death match without apologies. However, for those fans I would strongly recommend it as it doesn’t really ever stop for exposition or reasoning. It’s on the next game, and the clock is always ticking. Not for the sensible or the sensitive. If it’s not your cup of tea, be aware it never has a moment of respite, so you might want to choose a different game… I mean, movie.

That will do for now.

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