20th Century Boys Part 1: The oft-used "slow-as-molasses pacing with no score" method of Japanese dramas is applied early on, but is somehow devoid of interesting story lines or content while rife with clichés. Even worse, this movie tries so very hard at being epic and dramatic but lacks both energy and interesting content. Basically, it feels like a cheap B-movie with nothing in terms of memorable moments.
20th Century Boys Part 2: This film is an improvement over the first one, with a more engaging lead character and a pronounced level of bizarreness. The tone is all over the place, shifting abruptly between silliness and seriousness, but it works because the film is nutty from start to finish. The 139-minute runtime is too long, leaving some dull patches, but it is watchable and has an interesting ending.
20th Century Boys Part 3: Yukihiko Tsutsumi finishes off this disappointing trilogy with a second-rate film. It's basically a glorified B-movie from start to finish, with nothing thrilling whatsoever. The story is so fragmented and involves so many characters that it's impossible to care about anything that happens. I'm frankly insulted that these films were marketed like they were gonna be exciting. The viewer will wait and wait for a thrilling high point but all you will get are frustrating anti-climaxes. Sure, there's a big robot near the end, but it's a mediocre payoff at best (just like the first film in the series). The script is stupid too, especially the "don't kill" moral dilemma of one character despite being faced with a bad guy that plans on killing 6 billion people! (Oh yeah, I can't kill him to save 6 billion people because then I would be a bad person too.) Then there's the ridiculous hidden identity of the main villain that has been played up for 7 hours of runtime yet ends on a cheesy, B-grade twist. With an absurdly bloated 155-minute runtime and loads of dull filler material, this represents everything that's wrong with "blockbuster" filmmaking in Japan.
I'm the first person to admit that I prefer contemporary Japanese film to contemporary American film. In fact, I have moved away from American films almost entirely. However, the Japanese need to stop toying with the blockbuster formula if they don't know how to implement it properly. These movies should be a lot more interesting and exciting than they actually are. Tsutsumi suffers from the same boring "epicness" of Peter Jackson's movies. Two Towers and Return of the King, for example, begin with 2+ hours of nothing, then attempt to wake the viewer up near the end with some uninspired action.
I'm frankly getting sick and tired of everyone associating the word "epic" with bloated runtimes. Movies don't magically become "epic" when you drag them out to 150 minutes. It takes a lot more than that, and if you're gonna make your film 150 minutes long you had better pack in as much interesting content, story, and interaction as possible.
Review by ebossert from the Internet Movie Database.