February 16, 2011

GANTZ Live Action Movie Review Part II

GANTZ Live Action Movie Review Part II

It has taken me a little while to get back to my blog, but here is part 2.

The quality of the film was very good. It was obvious that this was a D-Cinema presentation, the current standard for digital projection.

Spoilers ahead…

The story opens with Ninomiya’s “Kei” character standing on a crowded sub way station that I was actually familiar with. It was one of the stations on the Rinkai or Bay-Coast train line which I have ridden many times when I lived in Tokyo. In fact, the station looked very similar to the Oimachi station that I used most often, but I wasn’t sure if that was it, since I didn’t recognize the train destinations listed on the electronic train info displays. Who knows, maybe they changed the train destinations to match the managa or something.

The film progressed through the train accident death scene, to the GANTZ apartment introduction, and then the first “Alien Eradication” mission for the Onion-head aliens.  After the first three scenes, it was obvious that the screenplay was taken from the manga/anime, as the story progression is the same.

One thing that was interesting for me to note was that the violence seemed less extreme than the anime version, and there was no nudity or sex scene either, although nudity was highly suggested when the girl Kishimoto first appears, slowly being “assembled” by laser beams from GANTZ while dripping wet and naked from the bath she was summoned from.

I supposed this is fitting, since the anime and manage versions have over the top violence, nudity, and sex and seem to be aimed for a hard-core adult otaku crowd, while the film is aimed for more general audiences.

After the Onion-head episode, the story progresses to the first interlude back in the “real world” where Kei gets to know Kishimoto (played by the currently popular young acctress Natsuna Watanabe) better, and we find out about Katou’s living with his little brother.

After the first interlude, we go to the Suzuki alien robot episode, a life-size action figure-like robot with a funny-looking 50’s style asian face, followed by another real-life interlude, and then the climatic great buddhas episode, where giant buddhist statues at a temple come to live, terrorize the GANTZ warriors, and bleed exploding foam when damaged by the high-tech GANTZ distruptors.

Overall, the three leading actors did a good job as the main characters, and the English dubbing was pretty good, but I would have preferred if they spoke Japanese so I could hear the native voices of the actors.

I was mostly satisfied with the film version of the GANTZ, as I enjoyed seeing a live action version with popular Japanese actors running around with fully realized power suites and futuristic weapons. It had pretty decent special effects, and it was also need to see the GANTZ ball too, with a real bald and muscular guy inside.

But think I still prefer the anime version.

The film version seemed to mimic the anime-style tension device of having characters panic to the point of barely fighting, or not fighting at all, even though they poses incredibly powerful weapons. It works with anime voice acting and illustration, but seeing live actors stutter and limp around seemed silly, and it also greatly slowed down the actions scenes.

Even the real life interlude scenes seemed to move slow with stilted dialogue. Perhaps the Japanese voice track would be better.

It was cool to see photo-realistic buddha enemies, but the temple setting seemed less impressive than the anime version, which was more stylized and fantastic looking.

The movie credits were followed by an epilogue, where the supposedly dead Katou is seen in a crowded rainy scene.

The Epilogue was followed by previews for the sequel movie due out in April.

Folowing this, we were returned to the live feed from Hollywood. Matsuyama and Ninomiya once again came to the stage and offered lively answers to Patrick Macias’s questions.

At one point, Macias joked about the possibility of GANTZ being nominated for an Academy Award as it was being shown in Hollywood. He bemused about the possibility of Matsuyma and Ninomiya winning Oscars.

For the Q & A session, Matsuyama and Ninomiya  spoke only in Japanese. The English translation provided by two bi-lingual guys standing behind them was adequate, but a few important points were missed. It must of have been challenging for these guys to interpret to a live audience as well as to 330 theaters across the US, especially when Matsuyama was speaking at length without pause for translation.

At one point, Matsuyama and Ninomiya mentioned that they hope this screening of GANTZ can encourage more in-roads to Japanese cineima beyond historical pieces like The Last Samurai and Memoirs of a Geisha.

One thing I think that Matsuyama said that was not translated was that the live-action part 2 movie will have new material different from the Manga or Anime versions. I hope the original screenplay for it is good, but I don’t have much expectation for it. I have experience watching manga-based anime episodes (Naruto!) that present brand-new stories completely separate from the manga story arcs. They are usually not nearly as interesting as the episodes based on manga stories.

After the interviews, the Fathom Event came to an end, and it was time to go home.

Over all, I enjoyed the Fathom experience of a live-event and film, and will probably try out another Fathom event soon… maybe I will check out a Met Opera showing….

Thanks for reading.

For more information, please see the following links.

Actors Information


Filed under: Arts and Entertainment — Brad @ 10:47 pm