Fantastic Fest 2015: Assassination Classroom
Japanese students, lots of guns, and an unkillable alien teacher
By Dan Gentile,
3:30PM, Sat. Sep. 26, 2015
Student-teacher relationships don't get much weirder than in Assassination Classroom.
The teacher is a yellow CGI octopus alien who just blew up the moon. The students are Japanese middle-school underachievers armed with assault weapons. If the kids don't assassinate the alien by the end of the year, he's going to destroy the Earth. It's totally illogical, but luckily for humanity, this alien likes a challenge and happens to be a great teacher.
Assassination Classroom sounds like some bonkers genre obscurity, but it actually opened at No. 1 at the Japanese box office this March. This is a blockbuster film with all the bells and whistles you'd expect: over-the-top special effects, visceral action sequences, and surprisingly heartwarming coming-of-age lessons that happen to occur while the kids are holding automatic rifles.
No American studio would ever greenlight a film that puts a gun in a classroom, let alone knives, poison, and explosives, but viewers can rest easy because the weapons have been specifically designed by the Japanese government to be harmless to humans!
It's this type of playfulness that makes Assassination Classroom so damn fun. For every clever plan of attack the kids come up with, the alien reveals a new superpower with which to defend itself, then laughs at their feeble attempts and goes back to teaching basic chemistry. By the end of the semester, the alien is so endeared by the kids that it earns the affectionate nickname U.T. (like E.T., but short for Unkillable Teacher). They struggle with the knowledge that it's their duty to humanity to kill U.T., even though it has taught them so much. Oh, and I forgot to mention that if they succeed, they also earn a 10-billion yen bounty.
There's so many contradictory layers of nuttiness to this movie that you really need to see it to believe it. Naturally there's a few scenes that are lost in translation (nonsensical montages, the alien's romantic back-story), but these just seem to add to the fun and are part of what makes Assassination Classroom likely to be the best popcorn film of this year's Fantastic Fest.
Assassination Classroom screens again Wed., Sept. 30, 5:45pm.
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