starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg
written by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer
directed by Zack Snyder
by Walter Chaw This is what I know: that the first time I saw Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royale, a friend had to acquire it from some disreputable dealer and send it to me, unmarked, in a brown box. When I watched it, I thought to myself that the United States would never suffer something like this in the popular conversation. Not long after 9/11, The Hunger Games became a YA phenomenon capped with a run of blockbuster adaptations. I know that immediately after 9/11, witnesses on the scene could only compare it to something they would have seen in a movie. I know that the United States started remaking the nihilistic horror films that Japan had been churning out for decades, and I know that this is because after 9/11, we became the second modern, industrialized nation to experience the effects of weapons of mass destruction detonated over a civilian area. The other thing we had in common is the arrogance to believe that something about our island status left us immune to that type of offense; I know that most other nations on the planet don't live under any such illusions. If we accept the premise that film, as all art, is sociology and history, then 9/11 is the inciting event that brought us closer as a culture, cinematically, to Japan. The myth of indomitability, whether it be that your Emperor is the descendant of the "living god" (rescinded in 1946 at the request of Supreme Commander Douglas MacArthur) or that you are the island "nation" of Manhattan and your priapic symbols of financial power stood as gatekeepers to the world, suddenly dispelled by an alien power. Poof. Justlikethat. And suddenly you're a citizen of a different place where gods are capricious and maybe not on your side, and terrible things happen for no reason. The world didn't get more dangerous, the mainland just lost its virginity.