Running time: 150 mins.
Reviewed by David Lam
Gantz is the onscreen incarnation of the wildly popular manga series of the same name. If you thought the tired premise of a group of strangers being pitted against one another in an elaborate game of life and death was over, think again. The only difference this time around is the sci-fi bent. Teleportation, sleek leather jump suits, gigantic laser guns and ALIENS!
Kei Kurono (Kazunari Ninomiya) and Masaru Kato (Kenichi Matsuyama) are struck and killed by a subway train while trying to save a fallen passenger. They are resurrected in a room filled with strangers who are just as confused as they are. To add to their bewilderment, there’s a giant black orb known as “Gantz”, sitting in the center of the room. The orb opens up revealing a man inside; he’s unconscious and is being kept alive by a bunch of tubes and wires. A message appears on the surface of the orb, explaining that they have all died and that they will have to return to earth to hunt aliens. If they should refuse to partake in the various missions (games) they will die again and not be resurrected. With that being said, suitcases with each of the strangers names on it materialize out of nowhere with laser gun and leather jumpsuit inside. IT’S ALIEN HUNTING TIME!
Easily the best thing about Gantz are the aliens. They’re so unbelievably strange that you just watch in awe. First you have the “Onion Alien” who looks like an albino troll with green fuzz for hair. He runs around helplessly as the clan hunt him down. When he’s eventually cornered, he bizarrely pleads for his life by offering “onions” to anyone who’ll listen. Next up is “Tanaka Alien”, a robotic doll like monstrosity that’s able to spit energy balls from his mouth. He lumbers around like a nightmarish version of The Tin Man. Lastly, the most frightening Alien of them all is the one that’s disguised as a statue of the Goddess of Mercury (Kannon). It’s shield in armour and comes at our heroes with its many ferocious tentacles.
Unlike many of Japan’s popcorn movies, the special effects in Gantz are actually quite good. The aliens, especially the ones towards the end look convincingly menacing and large in scope. Even the dark orb looks impressive when it opens up and all of its mechanical contraptions are exposed. While the special effects are great to look at they still don’t hide the fact that this movie is flawed in some major ways. First off, the premise while intriguing at times is more esoteric than engaging. What the “Gantz” orb wants with these strangers is never explained and what exactly are the rules of this limbo? And finally, if it’s character development you usually look for in a movie, look elsewhere. Everyone spend their screen time looking dumbfounded, running or yelling at one another. As Kei Kurono, Kazunari Ninomiya is an absolute snooze. He’s so utterly uninteresting that the intergalactic gym ball Gantz manages to out act him. And then we have Kenichi Matsuyama doing his best Tatsuya Fujiwara impersonation. As the sensitive Masaru Kato, Matsuyama overacts to hilarious effect. The most memorable character of the bunch is probably Kei Kishimoto (Natsuna) not because she’s especially interesting but because she looks great strutting in skin tight leather. Director Shinsuke Sato does his best to please his teenage fan boy audience by focusing the camera on Natsuna’s voluptuous body whenever the opportunity presents itself. And in case anybody is wondering, the love triangle that exists between the central characters doesn’t work at all.
Gantz is brash entertainment for those who enjoy watching weird looking creatures explode and don’t mind seeing tons and tons of CGI blood and guts flying everywhere. The story is nonsensical and the acting is non-existent, but the special effects sure are pretty to look at. For those who are not aware, a second part of Gantz has already been release in Japan. Below is a list of things I’m hoping will be in it:
1. A story
3. More Natsuna
I guess one out of three isn’t so bad.
Read more by David Lam at his blog