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A movie directed by Shinsuke Sato based on the hit anime series

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3 and ½ Stars: GANTZ Is Action with Ballz

  • Jun 4, 2012
  • by
You may not know this, but aliens are here.  They’re out to get each of us.  Whether it is our essence or our souls or our humanity, they’re bound to come for us, to take whatever it is they want from each of us, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them.  And, by the way … some of us?  When we die?  We don’t quite make it to Heaven or whatever serves as an afterlife.  In fact, some of us get hijacked and put into service on behalf of the rest of us – a kind of existential angelic life – and we get sent out on missions to take care of these aliens.
I’ll admit: I found the first half of GANTZ more than a little bit confusing.  It’s a serviceable adaptation of characters and themes introduced in a manga (by Hiroya Oku) of the same name, but I had the distinct feeling it could’ve used another round or two at the writers’ table.  Part of the confusion owes to the fact that the audience is clearly put through the moves alongside these characters – just as they’re struggling to understand all of it, we’re struggling to understand all of it – but I have to think there may’ve been a better way to accomplish it.  Once the world and parameters are established, the film rises to another level, delivering accomplished action pieces – one right after the other – where lives are at stake.
Kei Kurono (played by Kazunari Ninomiya) and Masaru Kato (Ken’ichi Matsuyama) do a good deed by saving a man from an oncoming subway, but, when they’re accidentally crushed by the train, they and several others wake up in a white room where a singular black orb named ‘Gantz’ takes control of their lives and sends them out on missions to hunt down and kill aliens hiding on our planet.  Is this Purgatory – where they’re forced to live out their days in service to a new God in exchange for giving them a second chance at life – or have they truly passed over with no hope at ever having a normal life?
It’s all a bit existential for a standard action/comedy, but, for the most part, it works, albeit I would’ve liked a bit more explanation in several areas.  First, where does Gantz come from?  Is he some angelic entity – despite the constant use of science and violence to achieve his means – and why is he the sworn enemy of these aliens?  Second, why is it that no one else notices these aliens?  In Barry Sonnenfeld’s film, MEN IN BLACK, most aliens disguised themselves so that they wouldn’t be directly detectable while living amongst humans, but these aliens are almost decidedly ‘alien’ with a few exceptions.  Third (and I’m treading lightly here so as to not spoil the climax), how is it they seemingly know about Gantz but no one else does?  Perhaps in the manga upon which the film is based, it’s all explained with a bit more clarity, but I found myself asking more questions than usual until the story morphed fairly well into an origins story for Kei; at that point, I realized that maybe it all made as much sense as it was going to, sat back, and enjoyed the ride.
It’s all a mostly winning formula, though I’ll have to admit that the action sequences seemed to drag on a bit more than absolutely necessary.  At two hours and ten minutes, GANTZ felt much longer – not in a good way – and I felt the script clearly weighted down with more action over human elements than it needed to be, especially when you consider the message of the climax: Kei must choose between fighting his growing arrogance and, instead, fighting on behalf of humanity – as a leader AND as a member of a team.  It’s a great message – one with relevance for the characters and situations presented here – but also one so elementary that GANTZ could’ve used a few more tightly-edited existential sequences.
GANTZ is a production of Nikkatsu, Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV), Shueisha, and the Toho Company.  The disc distribution is being handled through New People Entertainment.  This is a two-disc release, with the first disc serving up the film in Japanese or English dubbing (with English subtitles available).  The second disc includes an exclusive director’s interview, along with some trailers regarding other New People projects.  It looks and sounds terrific, with some winning special effects though Gantz’s ‘transporter effect’ seemed awfully if not painfully slow for my tastes (but still nifty neat-o-keen).
RECOMMENDED.  It’s an excellent take on the whole “Men in Black” theme – earthly protectors out to save mankind from some nefarious, dastardly aliens – though there’s very little logic as to where these baddies are from, what they want from us, and how it’ll all end.  Also, there’s really not much insight into where Gantz – as an entity – came from, who put him/it here, and what it all means.  In this outing, however, those considerations are secondary.  What matters is Gantz is here, and the Gantz team is watching out for you!
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at MediaLab Public Relations provided me with a DVD screener copy of GANTZ by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
3 and ½ Stars: GANTZ Is Action with Ballz 3 and ½ Stars: GANTZ Is Action with Ballz

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June 05, 2012
I liked this one a tad more than the second chapter. I guess it was because it sparked my curiousity that I wanted to see more. Glad you were able to score a copy of the two movies.
More Gantz (2011 film) reviews
review by . March 25, 2012
posted in ASIANatomy
Fight To Live...Vanguish or Die....Again?
After the success of the live action manga adaptations of the “Death Note” (two part movie franchise that includes “Death Note the Last Name“), it would be a good move for producer Takahiro Sato to follow up on adapting manga-anime material. This time, he adapts Hiroya Oku’s manga series “Gantz” which was also adapted into an anime series. Along with director Shinsuke Sato, they have made a live action franchise divided into two parts ( review of Gantz: …
Quick Tip by . February 02, 2012
posted in ASIANatomy
Based on the hit anime series from the filmmakers who gave us the fantastic "Death Note" live action adaptations, I am very hopeful to see this first chapter in the "Gantz" franchise. I am very curious as to how they managed to make the effects. I hope for a faithful rendition of the characters.      Full review coming soon.
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Ed ()
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What? You don't know enough about me from the picture? Get a clue! I'm a graduate from the School of Hard Knocks! You can find me around the web as "Trekscribbler" or "Manchops".   … more
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About this movie



Director: Shinsuke Sato
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Foreign
Screen Writer: Hiroya Oku, Yûsuke Watanabe

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