Yaaaay Nino on the big screen! Hehe, yeeeah, not gonna lie, that was the main reason I wanted to see this. For a Japanese film to come out in theaters was exciting enough though. I think a lot of fans of the original Gantz manga and anime would be interested in this, but as someone who has never read the manga nor watched the anime, I still think this is a movie worth checking out. Just a warning, I haven’t seen it in Japanese (yet!) since it was dubbed in English at the theater.
The plot of this was pretty dark and actually begins with the death of two friends, Kurono Kei (Ninomiya Kazunari) and Kato Masaru (Matsuyama Ken'ichi) as they are hit by a train. They come to in what looks like a room of some office building, along with several other people who claim to have been killed, and everyone is confused and distraught. A giant, mysterious black sphere in the room seems to be the key to the strange happenings, and through it they are equipped with special suits and weapons, and then teleported out of the room as they are sent on missions to destroy various targets. Throughout the movie the characters learn more and more as to what’s going on and form close relations as they are stuck in these crazy circumstances together, with small glimpses of their old lives but no apparent way out of their situation. The film ends at a cliffhanger, as there will be a sequel to follow.
I was surprised by how much I liked this movie. I’m not usually into action for the sake of action, and I didn’t think this film would be much more than that. But the whole movie was very character-driven, and the story was much deeper than I had expected. I’m not sure how well the movie followed the original story (so if it doesn’t that might bother people), but seeing the movie on its own, I enjoyed it for what it was. I also really enjoyed the acting – both Matsuyama and Nino impressed me, and I thought everyone else did a decent job too, so I didn’t really have any complaints there. The aspect that really pushed this to the next level were the visuals – this movie was so high budget compared to what I’m used to seeing from Japan. Not to say that Japanese movies usually have terrible effects per say, but the special effects in Gantz were especially good, which just made the whole experience a lot more fun. So while initially I did just see this for Nino, the movie offered a lot more, which made me happy and excited for the sequel.
There were still aspects I didn’t like, however, although the biggest thing didn’t really have anything to do with the movie itself: the English dubs. They were terrible. I generally always prefer to watch something in its original form anyway, with subtitles if I need them, but these dubs were especially bad and unfortunately made a big difference. So that fact made it hard to fairly judge this movie. For example, while I do think the acting was good from what I could tell and due to my familiarity with the actors, I think their performance was virtually ruined by their English voices. It really was that bad. Something else that I didn’t like about some parts of the movie was the pacing, and it was also hard to tell whether it was due to the dubs or just a flaw of the movie. Some scenes were just a little too drawn out, or perhaps needed some extra music or something, and they came off as rather slow and unnatural. Aside from that, a personal pet peeve from the movie was the fact that the characters never used their weapons when they were supposed to (and for little apparent reason…). That reeeally frustrated me as it just got to the point that it wasn’t believable. You have a gun that makes things explode and a giant, slow-moving target… just freaking shoot it! But that was just a detail. The last complaint I have may just be a personal thing – while I understand it is an action movie, I think the violence went a little bit overboard at times. I’m just thinking of a particular scene at the beginning (if you’ve seen the movie, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about) where I was really getting sick of the blood and guts. Most of the movie was fine, though, but just take that as a warning to maybe skip that scene if you really hate gore.
Ultimately, this was a difficult movie to review, since I only had access to see it in English dubs, not to mention I know little to nothing about the original story and thus do not know if the movie did it justice. But I was intrigued and entertained enough to want to buy this movie as soon as it comes out so that I can watch it in Japanese – so I do think that says something. I also can’t wait for the sequel to come out; I heard that this time they might just subtitle it for the US theatrical realease! So there you have it - great actors, interesting story, awesome visuals and fun action; if that stuff appeals to you, I’d urge you to give it a shot and watch the Gantz movie (in Japanese!)
By the way, here's a video version of this review:
By the way, here's a video version of this review: