Review: GANTZ

For some time now I’ve heard about the awesomeness that is GANTZ. So when I first heard that a GANTZ live action movie was coming out, I knew I had to spend some time familiarizing myself with the series. So I picked up the first volume of GANTZ and got hooked. If you’re not familiar with GANTZ, the story begins with a teenage boy named Kei Kurono who, along with an old classmate Masaru Kato, die after trying to help a drunk man who fell on some subway tracks. The two boys then suddenly find themselves trapped in an odd room with random people and a giant black called GANTZ. Little by little the boys, and other characters added in, learn over time that GANTZ can pull them at anytime into this room where they’re then equipped with weapons and sent out to kill aliens. Unsure if they’re dead or not, they do know that when killed by the aliens they are dead for certain, and only under specific circumstances can they be brought back or freed from the power of GANTZ. Both the manga and anime are known for being very violent and mature, and yet GANTZ is extremely popular both here in Japan.

Review

To my great surprise I learned within the last two months not only that US theatres would be showing GANTZ, but that the US showings would actually be the world premiere. Equally exciting I learned that two of the main stars of the film, Kazunari Ninomiya and Kenichi Matsuyama, would be coming to Hollywood to introduce the film, and that there live introduction and Q&A would be shown in all of the theatres showing GANTZ. Normally while very exciting this wouldn’t mean a theatre within two hours of me would be showing the movie; however, thanks to one of our local theaters joining the NCM Fathom program, my friends and I got the chance to witness the GANTZ world premiere.

[Img Source: http://www.thehorrornews.net/news.php?nid=6689]

Story

When any film is adapted from a source material as expansive as GANTZ, a la the Harry Potter films, I think the reader’s first worry is that the director will ruin the tale by cutting too much, adding unnecessary scenes, or generally just altering the story. I was pleasantly surprised that while the cuts were many, especially in the character department, overall the film stayed true to the GANTZ story. Certain elements were obviously toned down more than others, especially Kei’s adolescent lustfulness, but this did not detract from the story. Likewise fight scenes, while overall quite impressive, generally seemed to be abbreviated as well; however, the points that needed to be made were made, and the important action sequences that needed to be seen were shown. Knowing that, as was advertised at the end of the premiere, GANTZ is going to have a second and final live action movie, I am assuming that any major missing plot points will be addressed when it comes out.

Dub

My greatest disappointment in regards to the GANTZ film was the dub. My initial frustration, even before the film began, was that the two Japanese actors were going to have to sit through the film and listen to the English version, even though they took the time and journey to come all the way to the US premiere. My full frustration was only realized when, after sitting through the dub for mere minutes, I realized the horribleness of the dub. One of my friends mentioned after the show that instead of focusing on matching mouth flaps the dub actors should focus on conveying the emotions of the characters. By not doing so the dub sounded too robotic and serious scenes became laughable. Even if the film had to have a dub why not choose from the veteran anime voice actors who have success matching mouth flaps and conveying emotions? Either way I think the idea of even having a dub for the GANTZ live action film, and any live action film, really just shows that someone in the command chain really has a low opinion of the film audience attending, and I personally feel insulted by the thought that American audiences need a dub. I will never ever watch GANTZ again with a dub, and I suggest if you buy this film that you do not either. Hopefully, as Ninomiya himself asked for, if GANTZ Part 2 comes to America it will have only subtitles.

[Img Source: http://www.thehorrornews.net/news.php?nid=6689]

Summary

Overall despite the dub I found the film to be an overall great experience and a rare treat for Japanese aficionados and American movie lovers alike. In particular, I especially enjoyed the follow-up Q&A section, hosted by the affable Patrick Macias, which was quite entertaining and informative. Of course, and perhaps more importantly though, I really just liked the film itself a lot and still consider myself very grateful to have been able to see it in theatres. If GANTZ were to get an extended run I would see the film again if it had subs, and if not I’d at least certainly buy it on DVD/Blu-Ray. Even if you yourself have not seen the GANTZ anime or read the manga I strongly recommend this film, and hopefully next year I’ll be able to write a follow-up that covers GANTZ Part 2’s debut in theaters should it too come to our shores.

Score: 4 out of 5

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