Gantz: Perfect Answer - Movie Review
REVIEW SUBMITTED BY DIZZYDENNIS:
Gantz: Perfect Answer is the sequel to the record setting, Gantz and it doesn’t disappoint with its mind blowing action, outstanding visuals, and exceptional acting. Yet, is Perfect Answer the perfect film?
When I saw the first Gantz film back in January, I was disappointed at its alterations from the source material. Upon further thinking, I realized that you can’t always compare a film to how it mimics a comic book or manga. Sometimes you have to view it as its own separate entity. This sort of relates to how many people enjoyed The Green Hornet even though it was dissimilar from its original premise. Now, thanks to the combined efforts of “The New York Asian Film Festival,” “Japan Cuts” and “Japan Society,” the film was brought to all types of moviegoers to enjoy, whether they’re Gantz fans or not. We were presented with a subtitled version of Gantz as well as the sequel: Gantz: Perfect Answer. Seeing the original film without the horrid English overdub made it a lot more engaging and intense. It changed my initial opinions from the first screening and I recommend that fans of sci-fi action and Japanese enthusiasts see it; you’ve got something to really sink your teeth into. Although, the real reason for my excitement and attendance for this event was the sequel.
Interestingly enough, the film starts with a brief “Gantz in Review” that recaps the events of the previous movie. If you aren’t familiar, Gantz is a black orb who recruits people who have died to become members in his mission to hunt aliens. If you survive the mission, you’re awarded points for the aliens you killed, 100 of which can be used to resurrect a fallen Gantz player or to be set free.
Having been brought up to speed, we learn that five months have passed since the first film ended. New shape-shifting aliens have appeared due to their displeasure towards Gantz sending out his soldiers to hunt them down. Masamitsu Shigeta (Takayuki Yamada) is a persistent detective who has been investigating the unexplainable destruction caused during the Gantz missions as well as the deaths of individuals who seem to be living days later despite contradicting evidence. Lastly, we learn that Kei Kurono (Kazunari Ninomiya) has been taking care of Kato Masaru’s (Kenichi Matsuyama) little brother Ayumu since Kato’s untimely end in the first film. He’s not alone, as his love interest Tae Kojima (Yuriko Yoshitaka) has been assisting with Ayumu and aiding Kei through his day-to-day struggles. It seems that everything is taking a turn for the better, but once the shape-shifting aliens appear, mysterious new players start to join the recruits and Gantz begins to bring unforeseen changes and questionable targets to his missions, it’s unimaginable as to what will happen to our heroes. What lies ahead for them as they try to find out what exactly the perfect answer is and how it’s achieved?
That’s all I can really give about the plot for this movie without spoiling all of the juicy details. Interestingly enough, this sequel is actually not based on any existing chapters from the manga. Nonetheless, there are a lot of positives to boast about in this film. First and foremost, there’s the action. While the first film did an excellent job of bringing intense, action-packed fights to the table, Perfect Answer basically quadruples it! You’ve got Kei getting tossed out of subways, only to chase after it at super speed and make it back in through the last window; the Gantz players battle with aliens that end up cutting subway trains in half, blowing up entire city blocks, civilians are dropping left and right, amazing sword fights decide who lives and who dies, and the entire city of Tokyo is their battleground! I can honestly say with absolute certainty that Gantz: Perfect Answer has some of the most intense and adrenaline-pumping action that I’ve seen in a sci-fi action flick. The fight choreography is awe-inspiring and the chase scenes are more extreme than any viewer could possibly imagine. If any Japanese film has done action right, it’s Gantz: Perfect Answer.
Also worth noting is the acting. I find it amazing that Kazunari Ninomiya is a J-pop idol from the group Arashi yet he is also one of the best Japanese actors that I have ever seen. He was very well cast as Kei Kurono, (although this incarnation of the character was VERY different from the manga and anime due to the writing), and you can see the emotional state he’s in just from his eyes. When Tae is running full throttle to Kei during an epic battle, you can see in his eyes that he’s feeling worry, regret, and yet some relief… all at once! It’s certainly fine acting and proves why he received such recognition for his work in Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima. Kenichi Matsuyama is no slouch in the acting department either. Although he’s still best known for playing L Lawliet in the Death Note trilogy, you never once could tie him to that character with this film. That is a very good thing. He’s certainly perfect to play opposite Ninomiya, as the two really spark on screen. I’m not saying its “Captain Kirk and Spock” kind of chemistry, but it certainly adds a new layer to the film. Matsuyama also has the taxing duty of playing two vastly different sides of Kato Masaru. Without providing spoilers, the end result is very believable and engaging. Yuriko Yoshitaka also comes out of her shell as Tae Kojima in this sequel. In the first film she was sort of clingy and could come across as annoying. Yet, in Perfect Answer, she is loveable, believable, and most of all you end up wanting to see her succeed as a person and with Kei. When she’s in trouble, you feel bad for her. When she’s flattered with her relationship, you begin to feel overjoyed. Yet, when she’s struggling between life and death just to be with Kei, you could even be moved to tears. Ninomiya, Matsuyama, and Yoshitaka give such amazing performances that you may find yourself laughing, rooting, and possibly crying as their lives slowly crumble away at the madness around them. The only negative thing to say about the acting is that those three sort of steal the show from the other actors. There were no particularly bad performances from anybody in this picture. A special shout out goes to Shunya Shiraishi; for he made his very feeble character, Hiroto Sakurai, very likeable.
Lastly, I feel I must comment on the visuals. As many people know, the special effects on foreign films are usually sub-par compared to American films. This is especially true for Computer Generated Images (CGI). It’s incredible that despite this movie being produced on a 22 million dollar budget, it rivals Hollywood productions… most of the time. When the aliens are spawning swords out of black slime, absorbing shots into their power suits, jumping through windows, or literally stopping moving vehicles with just their left hand, it all looks flawless. Although, when characters are carrying civilians and jumping from rooftop to rooftop, it does look very artificial. My best comparison would have to be how Peter Parker moved when portrayed by CGI in the original Spider-Man trilogy. It’s not like it ruins the film, but it certainly is noticeable compared to all the movie is doing right. Is it cool? Yes. Is it convincing? No. The visuals overall were fantastic and while it may seem like I am raving how this movie is just gold, it’s not.
I think the first negative I noticed was towards the beginning of the film. After the recap of the first Gantz, we quickly get jolted into a plethora of new characters, information, and plot points. It boils down to being a huge pacing issue. So, it could be a tad overwhelming and very confusing when just settling into things. Though the film does even out the pacing after about 20 minutes into the film. Perfect Answer also falls victim to a common “not-so-straight-forward Japanese film ending.” Although the ending to this particular movie wasn’t too difficult to follow, I noticed that a few people in the theater weren’t quite sure how the film ended. Whether or not the ending is too convoluted is up to the viewer. Now, while the writing as a whole suffers in comparison to the first film, it’s not garbage. The writing of the first movie worked because it established the entire Gantz universe; the sequel takes the liberties of having it already established and thrusts unpredictable events onto the characters. It does work, but it seems like the storytelling took a U-turn in presentation. Overall, you can think of this big screen incarnation of Gantz as having a focus on nonstop, epic action rather than the portrayal of the morality of characters. It still does contain powerful moments of characterization with Kei, Kato, and many others adapting to the dangers around them. It’s a rollercoaster of action and emotion that ends just as a good thrill should.
In closing, Gantz: Perfect Answer does exactly what a sequel should do. It tries to trump the action sequences from the first film and it continues the story in a very well thought out way. Moreover, I cannot recommend seeing the second movie without seeing the first, as the story is essential to both. Even so, this represents some of the most passionate acting and blood pumping action there can be in a film. I cannot express how badass Perfect Answer is. While it’s far from being a perfect product, it’s a sci-fi action feature unlike any other that oozes with charm and really packs a punch!
Gantz will be coming out on Blu-ray and DVD on August 30th from New People Entertainment.
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