Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Movie Review - Gantz

Gantz Poster

* Title: Gantz
* Japanese: 前編

* Director: Shinsuke Sato

* Runtime: 130 min
* Language: Japanese
* Country: Japan
* Leads: Ninomiya Kazunari, Matsuyama Kenichi



College student Kei Kurono (Kazunari Ninomiya) notices former childhood friend Masaru Kato (Kenichi Matsuyama) helping a drunk man who fell from a subway platform. Kei Kurono then jumps down to help his childhood friend. A few moments later, the subway train rapidly approaches and both men look on helplessly on as their life is about to end.

The next moment, Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato finds themselves in a strange apartment with a mysterious giant black sphere and others who have recently died. The massive black sphere in the center of the living room is "GANTZ". GANTZ then assigns the people gathered in the room on missions to exterminate aliens.- Asianmediawiki

Firstly, I have to say something very important here. I have not read the manga this is based on, neither have I seen the anime made from that. I feel that can be an issue with remakes and adaptations. People love the original and they can't seem to just comprehend the fact that nothing, not anything, no matter how faithfully it is done, can be the same as the original. There are many remakes and adaptations I like, even if I loved the original works they were based on, simply because I do not expect to see the same thing. I realize it's someone else's interpretation, made by other people and that it should not be compared to anything.

That said, Gantz was a completely fresh thing for me and I frankly bothered mainly because of Matsuyama Kenichi. A man who has had some hit and some miss performances, in my opinion, but a very talented Japanese actor nonetheless. His work in Zeni Geba was amazing and he is great at changing his entire presentation to fit a role.

So, I don't want to hear "How can you say that? In the original..." or "But the character is explained more in the original...". I don't know an original. I judge this movie. This work. Stop comparing and start enjoying.

Unless your otaku brains can't get over the fact that his nose is too big or something

Also, it's worth noting that this movie is in two parts. This is the first Gantz movie and the story continues in Gantz: Perfect Answer. There is also a TV special called "Another Gantz" (which I have yet to watch), that apparently sheds some more light on the story of the first movie and ties it in with the second. Remember to also watch the end credits to this first one till the very end.

So, Gantz starts off with a very happy scene of the two leads being hit by a subway train. They wake up in a locked apartment, where a big black ball tells them and a few others brought there, to kill certain individuals and stay alive. Which is pretty damn hard, considering the targets and their willingness not to die, as well as the means they have of stopping that from happening. The targets are aliens. Aliens with quite easy (for them) ways to off humans.

Gantz is one mighty scary piece of contemporary art

The Story and Characters

This is quite an interesting story because it gets someone to ask a lot of questions. What is good about it is that the questions are interesting and not only limited to the movie world like "What is really going on?", "Is this real or are they in Hell or something?" etc. This is a bit of a spoiler, but one of the things that impressed me about this is that not all the aliens are hostile or bad. In fact, you really don't know who to root for sometimes when the humans seem a whole lot bigger dicks than the aliens. Frankly, I enjoyed certain human deaths and injuries very very very much.

Although I doubt Katou here enjoyed those as much as I did

That dichotomy also exists with the human characters. Some might be easier to brand as "flawed", but they are actually the better people. And some might seem more acceptable by usual social standards and they are the real monsters. This is an action sci-fi movie, but it actually takes the time to at least generate these questions and trouble the viewer's mind. Which is a lot more than one can ask of the usual Hollywood counterparts.

Character-wise, as I said, they are very interesting, even if some of them are not too developed or really aided by the actor portraying them.

Both Kurono and Katou are good guys, but they each have their flaws. Kurono has most of them, for me, as he is very unsympathetic, quite arrogant and selfish. He's not exactly a monster, but he lets his ego hurt people and even get some killed. He is that "don't know, don't care" guy. The person who is just living life taking care of his own business and doesn't really have much of an inner world until it's shaken by something worth fighting for.

My dislike for Kurono can't even be beaten by Ninomiya's adorable puppy eyes

Katou is not some superhero and he may sometimes operate on guilt, but at least he defends others in the process of trying to defend himself. He tries a bit too hard and he doubts himself a lot, which does cause certain mishaps that could be avoided, but he is trying to get as many out safely as possible and at least give people a chance.

Sweet boy, but a bit too angsty at times

Kishimoto is quite a weak person in some aspects, but she finds something to give her courage and get her to hope for. She is a loving person and an honest one who just didn't seem to have something bring her out of her shell and make her fight. Even if she is the usual anemic, sweet and quiet girl with huge knockers you usually see in such Japanese works, she actually has character and you don't feel she is just being there to show off her body, even if she does that as well. As a woman, she doesn't offend me.

She manages to be endearing and not sickeningly kawaii

The Cast

Well, this is Japanese we're talking about. Forgive me, but I mostly find them horrible actors. Overacting, wooden, cold, no emotions and you'd think they picked up people from the street to do the parts. This is not absolute, but the younger popular ones are usually bad. Like Fujiwara Tatsuya, but let's not go there...

I do think this movie is doing better than a lot though. Safe for Hongo's overacted "bastard" routine which the Japanese are simply not good at, I was pretty ok with the cast. Ninomiya got annoying sometimes and so did Matsuyama (only a couple of times), as much as I love him, but it never got to the usual japanese overacting standards. Also, I quite liked the two girls. Even Yoshitaka was watchable, which shocked me as she was unbearable in Love Shuffle and did not seem to distinguish between acting drained and plain wooden acting. Natsuna was also nice and I don't think she actually broke the immersion for me even once. Truly an achievement for a Japanese actress.

Don't try so hard, hon. You'll get wrinkles.

Overall, good stuff, considering. This isn't the most sentimental of movies anyway, so there wasn't that much of a challenge for the cast, but knowing what things could be like, I'm grateful for what I got. I do prefer Matsuyama in his more wacky or psycho roles, but he's a perfect Katou.

What you see

You see a very well done big budget movie. Interestingly enough, the CG is wonderful, something which I don't usually credit Japanese productions with. At least not the ones I've seen. The action is nicely done, the gore is oh so beautiful and appropriately disgusting and everything from the suits to the sets to the characters' apartments is good quality stuff. It's a very popular manga and anime and the movie was very eager for success abroad so it's no wonder they'd take good care of the visuals.

I really can't fault it in this aspect.

It would be wishful thinking to believe he's just stretching

What you hear

The quality of the soundtrack is as good as the quality of the visuals. It wasn't anything too special, making you want to run and find your copy, but it was appropriate for the movie. Good score, it's there and it works but it won't give you goosebumps all by its onesies. Like, say, what the ost of Duelist or Goemon do. Well, for me at least.

Some Things To Wrap Up

The movie's pacing and fullness is what makes it a real fun time. You are constantly at the edge of your seat, you wonder, you are in suspense, you feel your hair rise and don't like to budge in fear of missing what comes next. The movie grabs you, shakes you about and keeps you in its grip all the way through. With its action, suspense and mystery. It's good action and it does go just a taaaad bit deeper than what a Hollywood equivalent would.

Who will like it

Those who like action and "big" movies. Awesome fights, explosions, blood, gore, whole buildings collapsing. Complete mayhem. If you can't handle gore (and when Japanese do it, it's very gory) or blood, then this isn't the movie for you. This is brutal action. Good, big budget, polished and awesome brutal action, but brutal action nonetheless.


For a Japanese movie, definitely good. Young cast that doesn't make you want to throw yogurt at them, good visuals, nice score, lovely action and badass gore. Nerds will love it, action buffs will love it.

On the Fanboy Scale: There's really only one woman showing skin in this one, but boy, does she show it off. She is either naked (shortly), wearing the black leather suit or in tight fashionable clothes. She is stacked and quite attractive. So, yes. Fanboys will love her.

They are kinda hard to miss and all

On the Fangirl Scale: Fangirls and gore? I don't think they can handle that. Not unless there are really hot men and homoerotic tone involved. However, Ninomiya is kinda cute, as much as his character is an ass and Matsuyama in his hot, tight leather/latex Gantz suit is just a sight for sore eyes. Actually, he's not, because you spend so much time staring that they hurt. Heck, this gets a good fangirl rating for him alone. Real handsome man.

If an angsty hot man in a tight suit doesn't do it for you, you are not a fangirl

Information taken from Asianmediawiki

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