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MOVIE REVIEW: Gantz

Black suits make us look cool.

Now, I’m not much of an anime/manga fan like I used to be. So I heard very little about Gantz up until promotion for the movie started. I actually planned to go to the limited US theatrical release of the movie earlier this year, but something came up and I wasn’t able to go. So I was pretty anxious for the DVD release so that I could finally see what this movie was about. Now, since this is a pretty story-oriented movie (I know that’s weird to say. But considering that most of the movies I review are either Tokusatsu-related or Martial Arts movies, this has a tad bit more of a story to it.), it will be hard to talk about without spoiling the movie. So, here’s a fair warning. THIS IS A SPOILER REVIEW! If you haven’t seen the movie or read the manga or watched the anime, go do one or all of those things, preferably the first one, and come back. You’ve been successfully warned.

The movie stars Ninomiya Kazunari as Kurono Kei and Matsuyama Ken’ichi as Kato Masaru. Kurono and Kato are childhood friends who coincidentally run into each other at a train station. Kato attempts to save a drunken man who fell onto the tracks. He manages to lift him onto the platform, but the train is too close for him to get out. Kurono lends him a hand but is pulled onto the tracks as well. The trains barrels towards them and they close their eyes in anticipation of the impact. They open their eyes and find that they are in a room with a bunch of other folks and a big black ball (save your jokes for the end, people!) or should I say sphere, in the middle of the room. Inside the sphere is a man who seems to be unconscious and is hooked up to the machinery within. The sphere, known as Gantz, tells them that their lives have been taken away and that it will determine how they will use their new ones. It proceeds to give them targets for extermination along with suits and weapons to carry these missions out.

Most, especially Kurono and Kato, are hesitant to carry out this task at first. They then learn that the targets are aliens that have invaded the Earth and that if they receive 100 points which are issued by Gantz, they can either have their memories erased and returned to their normal lives or have a loved one come back to life. Little by little, the characters begin to accept their fate and tackle the missions given. Kato wants to save as many lives as possible, while Kurono starts to enjoy his new life and new abilities (the suite gives them super-speed and strength, and as long as they do not die before time is up, all injuries taken during the mission disappear). Since in his normal life, he seemed to be stuck in limbo and felt worthless. Here, he can do something and do it rather well, as far as he’s concerned. Plus he has a goal now, 100 pts. This obviously results in conflict between the two friends which is later resolved in the final mission of the movie.

Now, from what I’ve heard, the movie is VERY different from the manga and is a pretty watered-down version. I was told by a friend that I may have a unique perspective on it since I wasn’t exposed to the story in the manga. From what I hear, fans of the manga really didn’t like this movie. Don’t ask me why though, because as far as I’m concerned, I liked it a lot. The story was something that kept me interested the whole time. It was an interesting concept to me, though I’m sure I’ve seen it done before in some capacity or another. It did have a bit of a Matrix feel to it, but rather than being in a “computer program”, they were still in real-life, just that there were less consequences for their actions. And the cliffhanger at the end definitely has me hyped for the second movie, Gantz: Perfect Answer, which released about 3 months after this movie and should be out on DVD in the next coming months.

The acting in this movie was pretty well done. Everyone seemed to hold their own and none of the characters came off over-exaggerated or underwhelming. Ninomiya did a good job portraying the change of his character and Matsuyama seemed perfectly casted for his role. The rest of the supporting cast did their job well also. Though if there was one character that seemed tacked on, it was Kojima Tae, played by Yoshitaka Yuriko. Kojima ends up being the love interest for Kurono in the movie, but it never seemed to be developed properly. They talk once, then have coffee while she shows off her manga drawings, then professes her love for him after he almost gets hit by a train again (seriously, this guy needs to start taking the bus or ride a cab or something.) Other than that, it just seems like her part of the story was rushed. This is unfortunate because it could have added another element to the end of the movie and made the audience feel what he feels when he makes his choice to fight on. It just seems mishandled. And it threw me off because she seemed to be in a lot of the promotion for the movie, but she’s barely in it.

The action in the movie was pretty good. Special effects were used to show their enhanced abilities as well as CGI for some of the aliens. I actually thought the CG in this was pretty good. Not Transformers good (though one can argue if that is actually considered good, but that’s for another day.), but I’d say it’s a slight step above your average Tokusatsu series CG. Though the CG used to show their muscles bulking up seemed a bit odd to me. The suits themselves are pretty cool and I thought the weapons designs were good, but not something to get too excited about.

Overall, I had a good time watching this movie. As a stand-alone film, Gantz does what it needs to do. It sets up the story, gives you enough action to feel satisfied, and serves you up for a second helping in the next movie. I guess if I read the manga, I’d have a different opinion. I’m glad I didn’t though; because that happened to me with the Green Lantern movie and it would suck to have a jaded opinion about this movie.

So, if you got this far in the review, chances are you have seen it already. If so, feel free to leave a comment or two on this post and let me know what you thought about it. If you blatantly ignored my warning and read anyway, well, that’s on you. mwahahaha, I kid. I tried to leave enough out so that it would still warrant a watch for those who haven’t seen it. Go check it out and come back to post a comment.

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