Saturday, 21 May 2011

Movie Review: Gantz (2011)


2hr 11min‎‎  |  Action, Science fiction, Gore‎‎  |  Japanese‎, English subtitles
Director: Shinsuke Sato  |  Cast: Kazunari Ninomiya, Ken'ichi Matsuyama, Yuriko Yoshitaka

Wikipedia  |  Showtimes (Singapore)  |  Golden Village

Gantz tells the story of a teenager named Kei Kurono who dies in a train accident and becomes part of a semi-posthumous "game" in which he and several other recently deceased people are forced to hunt down and kill aliens. The missions in which they embark upon are often dangerous. Many die--again--on each mission, but they are replaced by others in the same manner as Kei Kurono's appearance. [from]


Since Japan's release in January, I've been anticipating this movie. Gantz is one of those few mangas that I love so much I'd actually went to buy them. The reviews for the movie was rather lukewarm though, and there's always a stigma associated with live action movies, but eventually I decided to give it a shot since one of my friends was interested in watching the movie as well.

I think both of us were watching the movie just to see the CGI effects anyway, and for that, the movie did deliver. The compositing for when the characters appeared and disappeared from the room with the black sphere was great, as were the animation and motion of the aliens. I literally laughed out loud at the chase scene with the onion head alien, and the blast effect of the gun on various aliens really conveyed how powerful it was in a realistic manner.

Predictably, the movie is nowhere as gory or explicit as the manga. Many of the more explicit scenes were simply skipped or artfully avoided with camera direction. But I suppose that's unavoidable. Following the manga faithfully would have made a rather depressing movie.

I didn't really like that they changed Kurono's character quite a bit though. In the manga he was a selfish and apathetic character, nothing like the wannabe hero in the live action movie. It made the entire tone of voice for the movie differ from the original manga by a wide berth. Gantz, like most of the manga in it's genre (Battle Royale, Ichi the Killer, Narutaru, etc) has a grimy, pessimistic tone, and Kurono is your typical sarcastic everyman. 

In the live action, there were a lot of randomly placed melodramatic scenes (in the middle of a fight, for one). At one point of the film, me and my friend turned towards each other and remarked on the inane amount of bromantic scenes they inserted into the film.

All in all it isn't a bad film per se, just a potentially disappointing one if you have high expectations of it. It was touted as a high-budget sci-fi film in Japan, but its intended audience is its more forgiving fans, as newcomers to the movie may be slightly put off by it (12hrs' worth of material condensed into 2hrs is never a recipe for a good storyline).

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed myself though. There were a scant number of people watching the movie, so we were able to comment on the ridiculousness of the script without disturbing anyone. It's always a novel experience seeing your favorite characters in live action (and well-cast, at that), and that alone for me was well worth the money to see it on the big screen.

Like 20th century boys, there's a direct sequel to Gantz, named Gantz: Perfect Answer. It may seem like a gimmicky move, but I suppose I understand the motivation behind it. As with 20th century boys, the story simply wouldn't fit into one movie. I may watch it if Singapore manages to release it soon, though that is quite unlikely.


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