Gantz Review & Film Clips
GUEST REVIEW BY DIZZYDENNIS
The sci-fi, action Manga: “Gantz” debuted on North American screens on January 20th, 2011, but was it the high quality film that the source material rightfully deserved?
Being a long time fan of “Gantz,” Kenichi Matsuyama, and Japanese culture as a whole, I waited months for this film’s release. As the event was streamed into the theatre I watched with excitement as we, the audience, received a small introduction as to what the film was going to be about. The two titular stars, Kazunari Ninomiya and Kenichi Matsuyama, gave a live, short introduction and the movie began shortly thereafter.
The plot of “Gantz” is rather simple yet complex due to the characters and their method of survival. When a person dies in the real world, they end up in a room with a black orb known as Gantz. This orb instructs them to hunt down a certain alien target with weapons and super suits that it provides. If they die in the game, they die forever. However, if they live and kill the alien target, they gain points and once they achieve 100 points, they can be freed from Gantz with their memories erased of all that had happened or they can resurrect a previous Gantz player.
All the hopes I had Gantz were well kept for the first 10 minutes. Shortly after that, however, the film starting to lose its charm. While being a fair adaptation of the Manga, there are some obvious problems with pacing – most notably that the movie had to cram a lot of the story into the length of a feature film. The result is a film that boasts a lot of action, but loses substance with the characters and plot. Kei Kurono (Kazunari Ninomiya) feels like one of the few characters who really evolve from his time in the game of Gantz. Significant events in the Manga, such as character deaths, are greatly downplayed and don’t pack as big an emotional punch as they should. Also, Kei Kishimoto (Natsuna) quickly spirals into a romance with Kato Masaru (Kenichi Matsuyama), yet it all happens so spontaneously while in the Manga and anime, the romance gradually grows as she reflects on Kato’s deeds for her. Some may not see pacing as a huge problem, but when it hurts the characterization and makes the characters less interesting, it is definitely a factor that greatly hurts a film.
Another huge issue with this premiere was the English overdub. When films like “Death Note” and “Shinobi: Hearts Under Blade” showcase that English dubs can be done well in live action films, there is no excuse as to why the dub for “Gantz” was so terrible. The characters voices lacked the proper emotion in critical scenes, the acting had awkward pauses and the wrong infliction, certain characters seemed to have random accents and there voices that simply didn’t match the characters they were set to. The dub was inadequate and during the showing much of the audience was mocking it. Personally, I would’ve loved the original Japanese audio with a simple pair of subtitles at the bottom of the screen.
The film wasn’t completely bad. The action was very involving, the violence was fitting, it boasted some very impressive visual effects and some scenes were quite intense! It was also apparent that the Japanese actors were really into their roles as Kazunari Ninomiya’s and Kenichi Matsuyama’s facial expressions and mannerisms successfully portrayed their characters with the perfect amount and type of emotion in every scene. It’s just a shame that the English overdub ruined it. It was also a positive that there was interview after the movie with the two lead actors, which provided a lot of laughs and insight into the film.
In the end, “Gantz” wasn’t a completely horrible movie, but rather a film that set its expectations far too high. Its high budget and burden for greatness set by its source material may have been a double-edged sword for the filmmakers. It’s a passable film, but only just. When films like “Nana,” “Death Note,” and “Love Com” prove that there can be strong, cinematic adaptations of Manga, “Gantz” seems to just fall short. Due to the English dub, I recommend that this film be watched on DVD, Blu-ray, or any other way that gives you the original Japanese audio. Also, due to the lack of fine characterization, I recommend this only to “Gantz” fans and/or Manga enthusiasts. The sequel and direct continuation will be coming out later this year.
Footage of the premiere and a few minutes of the film follow. Listen to the dub, yourself
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