A lighthearted school outing takes a turn for the worst as all but three students are killed in a train tunnel's collapse. One of the three quickly goes mad as the result of claustrophobia, forcing the others to leave him behind. With no other option, the remaining pair attempt to break free from the wreckage, only to realize that the world above the tunnel is in just as bad shape. Reduced to rubble, all of civilization appears to have been destroyed by some kind of Armageddon-like disaster. Alone, the two must find their way back to Tokyo through a maze of desperation fueled by the fear-inducing power of the ominously named Dragonhead.
Directed by: Jôji Iida
. Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki
, Sayaka Kanda
, Takayuki Yamada
, Naohito Fujiki
, Yoshimasa Kondô
, Kyûsaku Shimada
, Minori Terada
, Jinpachi Nezu
, Camille LaBry West
, Shion Machida
, Yutaka Matsushige
There have been great Japanese disaster films like Submersion of Japan, and dreadful ones like Earthquake 7.9. This film falls between the best and worst in the good range.
A teenage boy wakes up on a train. He remembers traveling with his class somewhere when something happened, something terrible of which he is one of the few survivors. The first 40 minutes are set in a collapsed train tunnel where the survivors try to come to terms with their situation, both in the tunnel and in their heads. Its an odd way to start a film, but it works since it allows things to be set up and expectations to be dismantled.
After the 40 minutes the movie moves outside as the survivors struggle to travel across what is now a truly alien earth. What happened is not clear at least at first, but it was big and powerful and not over.
For the most part this film works in spades. Visually this film has set the bar to new end of the world films, and I can only imagine what a live action version of the manga and anime classic Akira would look like in the hands of these film makers. The acting is mostly fine with several eerie performances by several of the supporting cast. I also love the fact that this film is dealing with more than just destruction. There are ideas being battered about, as with the strange pair of kids who's father has removed that part of their brain that allows them to fear. Its trippy and creepy at the same time.
Unfortunately the film also has two serious, but not fatal problems. The first the film occasionally moves into cliché a couple of times, as in the crazed soldiers who hook up with our heroes. Why do we need this insanity, even if the film attempts to explain it? The other problem is the pacing is uneven. Sometimes sequences seem to go on a bit too long, while others are too speedy. It grated on this viewer and it felt longer than two hours. As I said its not fatal, but it is annoying because the film as a whole deserves better.
Review by dbborroughs from the Internet Movie Database.