Seemingly quite faithful to the manga, but overly rushed with utterly uneven narrative and character development
There has been a back-to-back of disappointing live action adaptations of manga recently -- Parasyte, Attack on Titan, and now this. I watched all these films as a neutral without having read or watched the manga or the anime series, and I tend to wonder if these films were solely produced for fan servicing as they're pretty poor movies. At least Assassination Classroom feels like it tries to be more faithful to the source material that's written and illustrated by Yusei Matsui, but it's just too bad that the film doesn't pace itself well at all.
Directed and written by Eiichiro Hasumi (Umizaru live action films) and Tatsuya Kanazawa (Hammer Session! TV series) respectively, Assassination Classroom is about a yellow octopus-like alien with a smiley face that has made the moon permanently a crescent moon and now threatens to destroy Earth as well, but it offers a very strange deal to mankind. It becomes a teacher at the worst performing class of a junior high school, teaches its student regular subjects and skills to become great assassins, and tasks the students to kill it before graduation otherwise he'd destroy Earth. The student(s) who manages to kill him will be rewarded with 10 million yen. There's a sense of elements from Battle Royale, Parasyte, Kuroko no Basket and GTO, but the overall concept is still very refreshingly compelling and fun.
The alien, named Koro-sensei (which means Unkillable Teacher) by its students, may make the film seem like children's programme due to how it looks in the cheap plastic-like CGI, but it works well enough for an action comedy like this. At least its presence is believable in every scene. Kazunari Ninomiya (Gantz) does a splendid job voicing the character, providing it with the goofy personalities, emotions and memorable laughter that the role requires. The cast is quite stacked with eye candies, most notably Kang Ji-Young (former member of Korean girl group Kara) who plays the always-sexy Irina Jelavić a.k.a. "Bitch-sensei", a seductive female assassin-turned-English teacher. With a tentacle creature and young actors in school uniform, many scenes could've actually turned hentai, especially when Koro-sensei is quite a pervert. The acting performances aren't terrible, again considering that it's an action comedy, but there aren't an even screen time for the actors to explore their roles. Not even the protagonist Nagisa Shiota (Ryôsuke Yamada), who has the Kuroko-like ability. I actually wondered, do these students even have parents?
The film does poorly with its exposition as it hastily rushes through the first act in a straightforward manner, allowing no suspense or development of any kind. Even without reading the manga, I could already tell that many of the great moments from the source material were being shoved down my throat. And what's sad is that I actually chuckled at some of these scenes as I could imagine how hilarious and exciting it could've been if they were played out properly. The film does slow down its pace for the dramatic climax in the final act, but what for? The emotional engagement is definitely going to be weak as the character and relationship developments aren't done right earlier. The entire third act becomes a bore and there's inconsistency with the character Itona Hirobe (Seishiro Kato), who's supposed to have the same kind of speed that Koro-sensei has.
As a sequel was already planned and the manga itself is still on going, there are still big questions left unanswered. Hopefully the sequel would tie up the loose ends and probably even earnestly convey its message on the abusive Japanese school system, social discrimination and teacher's sacrifice. More importantly, it should not rush the good scenes to drag the boring parts that were never well built upon.
Malaysia censorship: Apart from the one or two unintentional upskirts which nobody would bother cutting, the film never comes close to any graphic violence or sexual moment. Pretty much Kamen Rider-standard.
Second opinion: My girlfriend, who's a fan of the manga, said that the film is indeed too damn rushed.
Verdict: Yet another poor film adaptation of a seemingly great manga but intriguing enough to make me feel like reading the source material or watching the anime.
Rating: 2.5 / 5
Based on: "Assassination Classroom" manga series by Yūsei Matsui
Country / Language: Japan / Japanese, English
Genre: Sci-fi action comedy
Running Time: 110 minutes
Director: Eiichiro Hasumi
Screenwriter: Tatsuya Kanazawa
Cast: Kazunari Ninomiya (Voice), Ryosuke Yamada, Masaki Suda, Maika Yamamoto, Seika Taketomi, Mio Yuuki, Miku Uehara, Kanna Hashimoto, Seishiro Kato, Kang Ji-Young, Masanobu Takashima, Kippei Shiina
Malaysia Release Date: 3 September 2015 (at select GSC cinemas only)
Local Distributor: GSC Movies
Production: (no info)
Follow me: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google+