At a coworker's urging, we watched Battle Royale last weekend. At least now I understand what those Avengers Arena covers were homaging. I was busy reading, so I missed the first half hour or so. By the time I came in, about 4 or 5 kids were already dead.
I'm not sure we were supposed to be laughing as much as we did, but some of it was so over-the-top, it became hilarious. The confrontation between the blinded, golden-haired, machine pistol-toting transfer student, and the shotgun-wielding kid who resorted to break-dancing to compensate for his leg wound, for example. In general, the violence was ratcheted up to 11 constantly. Characters took a lot of killing to actually die, and at times seemed to keep going solely so they could be shot or stabbed some more.
The movie seemed to delight in showing moments where characters were refusing to participate, were instead working together, or trying to get everyone to stop fighting. And then, they'd die. Throwing down your arms doesn't work unless everyone does it. Some people are going to give in their darker impulses, or take the opportunity to right wrongs. Once it started, it would keep snowballing until everybody was dead.
There are some touching moments, some that make you groan at the stupidity of the young, and at least one that made me think the whole thing had been a dream or hallucination. I was never clear why the whole thing was happening, but that seemed fitting. I'm not sure the kids really understood. I'm not sure they could understand. As endearing as it was to see some of them try to remain friends and just stay out of the fighting, the fact was, if there was more than one person alive at the end, everyone was getting killed. Sooner or later, the were going to have to turn on each other, or die. I'm not sure if they'd considered that, and simply refused to go along with it, or if they thought the whole thing was fake. If they just kept their heads down, everything would work out OK.