It had been a few years since I had seen a new Takashi Miike movie before somehow stumbling upon the trailer for As the Gods Will, which had such delightful and self-consciously silly visuals like a floating head (or a Doramus or whatever it's called) making teenagers heads explode - the blood is actually red marbles though so it's alright - or a talking Polar bear crushing other teens into mulch for being caught as liars. Seeing this was a very good reminder about how much fun Miike can have when he has some characters that he likes - and others he knows he can kill in some creative and occasionally gruesome ways - but it's also about translating a Manga to screen in a way that is... I won't say more "kid" friendly, but certainly more accessible than the transgressive and really bonkers Ichi the Killer, also based on a Manga. But as with most things, with Miike there is a curve.So many of his films are bizarre WTF-fests that something like As the Gods Will gets kind of close to the top... ten perhaps, maybe not five, but that's saying just how insane he's taken the visuals and surrealism and fantasy in his past work - also see The Happiness of the Katakuris, Gozu or The Great Yokhai War for more examples, or any given Dead or Alive movie, mostly the first one - and how he could give less than a damn about good taste or morality, at least in the sense of offending imprudent tastes. With this, the parallels one might think to Battle Royale are apparent up front, with high schoolers being slaughtered left and right (though in this case one by one by a giant floating talking head that will only stop if, according to him/it, someone presses the big red button on the opposite side of its face), but there's also here a much cheerier version of Saw, where there are many "games" to play, but it's not like these students have been picked out for being bad or need to be taught lessons.Matter of fact, its not totally clear why there are these objects like a giant cat that will kill the students in the gym it's at because, uh, there are mice costumes that need to be put on(!) or the Polar Bear or other floating dolls that sing songs and make one guess who is singing and so on. I think this is perhaps due to being a *very* Japanese movie (I haven't read the Manga, but also this movie is hard to track down in the US, it's only available as an import and even rarer to get to play on an American DVD player), and that there is not much at all explained in the way of why there are these... giant floating cubes ala the movie Arrival floating above major cities. Are there terrorist attacks? Nope, says a guy who looks like a Japanese Wario from the NES games; these are aliens... or are they? Why are they coming to Earth to make teenagers play these life/death games? What do these "Gods" want from us? But on the other hand, hey, who cares? Miike gets us invested enough in the small handful of characters that seem to be liking, Shun being the main character who has lived a "boring" life before and is now having to think on his wits every moment of these games, so that we are focused on their will-they-won't-theys as they face off against these bizarro elements. The characters, including the punk Amayo who seems like he's ego-maniacal from minute one, are types, but the writers and Miike know how to make them into human beings that we can get behind in all of his, and as bat**** everything gets, we have them as an anchor, at least of a sort. So while there certainly could be just a little, even a small scene, where things could be explained (a friend I watched this with said more might come in a sequel, and good luck with all of that I say), and a small side character that is on the outside world, a shut-in, watching all of what's happening on TV could've had a little more going on with him, what the filmmaker does with these five acts (and it's really five, not three) is remarkable.This is tenacious, entertaining cinema that will certainly delight those who are more accustomed to the... idiosyncrasies of Japanese genre cinema (bordering, or just, exploitation filmmaking, though Miike is a cut above, say, the guys who do like Tokyo Gore Police or the Machine Girl or schlock like that, he really cares about his shots and he has had for a long time a great sense of comic timing). There's even an element of, in short, if this were a Japanese anime/animated film, we probably might not think twice about 75% of what goes on here. That it's in live action makes it all the more purely Gonzo, and all the more of a fun time for it, albeit with a sad ending.
A fan of Miike's (the director), I thought I'd give this film a chance... wow, was that a mistake.The beginning 10 minutes or so are insanely bad - not in a so-bad-it's-good way either, this is just god-awful. Tempted to turn it off, I was determined to sit through it to see if it improved and it didn't. I started to play on the 3DS to help get to the end - it's that bad!The ending didn't have any kind of message and I can honestly say that I feel cheated for wasting 2 hours of my life on this turd.Please, if you're a fan of Miike too, ignore the fact that this film even exists.
Based on manga with the same title, Kamisama no iu tôri (As the Gods Will) is a story of average high school students forced to play a series of deadly games. Takeshi Miike who has proved capable with such theme is the perfect pick to create a fascinating, occasionally humorous and gory live action of the manga. He has a distinct stylish visual, timely touch of horror and a proper respect to the original source.For such grimly movie, the cinematography is very sleek and cool. Viewpoints from above and panoramic shots are used often to set the ambiance. Visual offers bloody gore with mildly tone down violence. For the part of full blood pool of the manga, this movie counterpart uses a more comical effect yet without neglecting the intensity of the scene. In fact Miike, as expected, produces a couple of nasty gruesome sequences of his own.Humor and philosophical elements are steadily present. The first half sees more comedy for ironic purpose, as the story progresses and the death dealing intensifies the tone tends to be more serious. The movie has taken the liberty of creating more appropriate screenplay for later games. This is due to the fact that it might become overly complex for a feature length movie to display later arcs, and frankly it's not a cause for concern as the new screenplay is still presentable and keeps all the thrilling attributes of the manga.Miike has a knack for the unassuming shift of tone, as seen from Crows Zero and 13 Assassins. Sometimes the movie would transition from quiet scene to a rather explicit one. It doesn't venture into dark territory too much, but it does warrant a mature rating. If there's any concern, it's that the nature of the games is highly inspired by Japanese culture, this might create a rather awkward narrative at some points though it's only a minor hindrance.Equally quirky and disturbing, the myriad of bizarrely captivating games of death is brought to live by Takeshi Miike.