January 26, 2011

GANTZ Live Action US Release Movie Review Part 1

Last week I had a chance to see the US premier of the GANTZ live action movie via satellite broadcast courtesy of Fathom Events.

This is part one of a two-blog post series. This post covers general information about Fathom Events, as well as describing the pre-show leading up to the main event, and the live event introduction.

This was my first Fathom Events experience and I very much enjoyed it. I liked watching a live event in HD on a large screen. The movie was fun to watch, even though it was English dubbed (not my favorite), and it was neat to see the two main actors in a live broadcast as well.

For those that are not familiar about Fathom Events, they happen at movie theaters around the US and are venues for live programming via satellite. A good example of a  typical type of Fathom Event: Live New York Metropolitan Opera performances can be seen at Fathom Events, without having to actually be there.

Interestingly enough, I was considering going to an Anime related Fathom event in 2009, and then I was going to make it my first blog. The event was the movie version of Eureka Seven (English dubbed) followed by live commentary and QA by the English voice actors. Too bad I missed it.

Now, a year and four months later, I finally got to a Fathom Event, and my plans of writing a blog post about it have finally materialized.

The GANTZ event I went to had 4 segments: A pre-show,  a live introduction from the Mann Chinese theater in Hollywood, the HD presentation of the film with English dubbing and a Q&A session following the film with the two male lead actors Kenichi Matsuyama and Kazunari Ninomiya.

Before this event, I was already familiar with the GANTZ franchise after renting the first season of the GANTZ anime DVDs from Netflix several years ago.

When I found out about the Fathom Events GANTZ live action showing, I became excited at the chance to see the movie in the US.

Segment 1 was the pre-show, which I only saw about half-of since I arrived 15min before the main event.

The pre-show was well done and featured Fathom commercials, and information about the upcoming events. I thought the quality of this pre-show was better than FirstLook, the pre-show that runs before regular films at some movie theaters. Incidentally, the parent company of Fathom Events is also the parent company for FirstLook: NCM Media Network. (NCM stands for National CineMedia).

Compared to what I am used to with FirstLook, The Fathom pre-show seemed slower paced and less “spastic” in that the transition between each segment was calmer, more focused, and there were only commercials related to Fathom Events.

The pre-show ended with a transition to a full-screen title for the GANTZ “World Premier”. This full-screen title (full-quality HD image) then faded-in to a live video feed of the actual movie theater screen at the Mann Chinese theater, and a small stage in front of that. Soon after the fade-in, Patrick Macias, Editor in Chief of Otaku USA magazine, came to the stage wearing a dark blazer, and aGANTZ t-shirt. He made a spirited introduction to the film, gave the obligatory “no photos” warnings with a cool otaku-twist, and then welcomed the actors Matsuyama and Ninomiya to the stage.

I have been familiar with Matsuyama’s work since about 2007, when I saw him on the Japanese comedy/drama TV show “Sexy Voice and Robo”. I will write a blog about his work that I am familiar with later on.

The comments from the two stars started out with Ninomiya, from the popular J-Pop group Arashi, giving some brief introduction and welcoming comments all in English. Matsuyama also gave some comments in English. Both speeches were charming and admirable considering neither of them can speak English fluently.

After the introduction, the screen faded back into the full screen GANTZ title, then the TOEI Film corporation animated logo came to the screen.

End part one.

Watch for part-two of this blog series soon.

For more information, please see the following links.

Eureka Seven Fathom Event

Gantz Information

Filed under: Arts and Entertainment — Brad @ 10:20 pm

January 23, 2011

Evangelion 2.0 US Theatrical Release Experience

I am a big Neon Genesis Evangelion fan, and I was very excited to find out that  the second re-imaged film “Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance” was released in US theaters this weekend. I happened to catch the news on the Otaku USA News page. The nearest showing to me was in Southlake TX, a suburb of Ft. Worth.

I have been lucky enough to have already seen this film. I saw it during its original theatrical release in the summer of 2009 in Yokohama Japan.

Even though I have seen the Evangelion 2.0 film already, I wanted to show my support to the US theatrical market by going this weekend. Plus I thought it would be cool to see it again on the big screen. Actually, it was a double-feature with “Evangelion 1.0: You are (Not) Alone” playing before it, which I also saw the original release for in 2007 in Japan.

I am not planning to write a review here. For that, see a link at the bottom of this post. Needless to say I greatly enjoyed seeing “Evangelion 1.0” and especially “Evangelion 2.0” in Japan and got excited at a another chance to see these movies on the big screen this weekend.

So with great anticipation, I made my way to the Harkins Southlake theater this morning.

When I first entered the theater, I choose a seat in the 5th row from the front, and then I looked up to the projection booth. I was VERY disappointed when I noticed a “portable” digital projector sitting in front of the regular projector in the projection booth. I got a sinking feeling that I wouldn’t get main-stream theater quality today, and I didn’t.

When the movie started my hunch was realized, and I could see the individual pixels. This immediately took me out of my “suspension of disbelief” as I was preoccupied by the little squares on the screen. Not only that, but the screen image didn’t fill the whole screen, and it was considerably dimmer than a regular movie theater digital projector would be. I am not sure, maybe it was just the fault of the projector they used.

So for today, Evangelion 1.0 and 2.0 were both shown from a Blu Ray player connected to a portable projector. At 1920 x 1080p, Blu Ray is great for home, but it doesn’t scale-up well to the movie theater experience, where the standard is full-screen 2048 x 1080 pixel resolution or twice that.

After the the first fight scene of Eva 1.0, I moved back to the middle of the theater, and could no longer see the individual pixels, so I could then relax and start to enjoy the films. But today’s presentation still was not as nice as seeing the regular full-screen cinema releases in Japan.

I wonder what the theaters in other parts of the country are showing for Eva 2.0?

I get the impression that Funimation is getting a license to publicly show the Blu Rays that they sell themselves, but they either can’t afford, or are not trying to get either the 35mm, or D-Cinema versions of the films they are showing in the DFW area.

In the end, I enjoyed seeing these two films again today, and it was nice seeing them on a big screen, but I hope future such releases by Funimation (or another licensee) can show these films at full-screen, D-Cinema quality.

Related links:

Filed under: Arts and Entertainment — Brad @ 11:39 pm