To kill an unkillable teacher

The head of the creature, nicknamed UT for Unkillable Teacher, comprises a smiley emoticon, even when he is telling the teenagers how to kill him.
The head of the creature, nicknamed UT for Unkillable Teacher, comprises a smiley emoticon, even when he is telling the teenagers how to kill him.PHOTO: ENCORE FILMS

REVIEW / ACTION SCI-FI

ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM 2 (PG)

118 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3.5/5 stars

The story: A seemingly indestructible octopus-like creature comes to the no-hope class 3-E of Kunugigaoka Junior High School. The assignment is for the students to assassinate him before graduation, failing which, Earth will be destroyed. The creature is nicknamed UT (Kazunari Ninomiya), for Unkillable Teacher. It is up to quiet Nagisa Shiota (Ryosuke Yamada), cool trouble-maker Karuma Akabane (Masaki Suda) and nursing-a-secret Kaeda Kayano (Maika Yamamoto) to bring UT down. This is an adaptation of Yusei Matsui's hit manga of the same name.

Education and murder are most unlikely bedfellows, though they went together like a compelling nightmare in the action thriller Battle Royale (2000).

Assassination Classroom deals with similar themes, albeit with a far more light-hearted approach.

For starters, UT's head comprises an unchanging yellow smiley emoticon, even when he is giving instructions to teenagers to kill him.

Part 1 did not venture far beyond this absurdist set-up - frankly, it seemed that an anime adaptation would make more sense (there was one in 2015) for such an out-there story rather than a live-action film.

Things improve in Part 2. The tone is still light and we get to see how adorable UT can be as he dresses up as a dog and then as a peach in a class drama production.

More importantly, we get to see the man beneath the tentacled, jolly exterior that is UT. It is a tale rooted in human folly and recklessness and it divides the class on whether they should still try to kill him.

Also explained - the reason UT took up the position of homeroom teacher for class 3-E in the first place. It certainly gives a fresh spin to the genre of rah-rah you-can- do-better education dramas when the film draws a link between learning to be a good assassin with becoming a better student and person. For all his unorthodox methods and appearance, and the constant spectre of death and destruction that surrounds him, UT forges a strong bond with his written-off charges and becomes, against all odds, an inspiring teacher.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2016, with the headline 'To kill an unkillable teacher'. Print Edition | Subscribe