Gantz Movies 1 & 2 Collection (2010 - 2011)
By: Stuart Giesel on November 26, 2013 | Comments
Eastern Eye | Region B | 1.85:1, 1080p | Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 275 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Shinsuke Sato
Starring: Kazunari Ninomiya, Ken'ichi Matsuyama, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Kanata Hong˘
Screenplay: Yűsuke Watanabe
Country: Japan
Eastern Eye's Gantz 2-disc Blu-Ray collection presents the two Japanese live action manga adaptations in glorious HD: the original film, Gantz, and its sequel, which is really more of a continuation of the first chapter than a sequel, Gantz: Perfect Answer. If you like your action movies with a bit of soft science-fiction thrown in with some splattery violence, you'll find much to love here. If you're a massive fan of the ultraviolent, sexually-explicit manga, or the flawed but fun anime, you might have a few issues with these slick productions.

Gantz (2010)

Without wanting to spoil too much - after all, a lot of the enjoyment comes from unravelling the story's mysteries - the opening scene of Gantz, which is a ripper, sees two students, Masaru Kato (Kenichi Matsuyama) and Kei Kurono (Kazunari Ninomiya) get run over by a subway train whilst attempting to save a drunk. The boys wake up in a strange, practically featureless room - featureless except for an ominous large black sphere, which they soon learn is known as Gantz. There are other people in the room with them, and only a couple seem to know what's going on. Pretty soon the sphere comes to life, and insists on equipping the people with black lycra suits that have mysterious powers, along with strange guns that emit a light and a weird sound. These guns fire invisible shots which have a delayed reaction - you shoot someone or something with it, and that thing will invariably explode a few seconds later, which as you might imagine causes all manner of mayhem. The team is then sent into the "real world" to take down a variety of strange people. There's a fair bit more to the story beyond that, as school chums Kurono and Kato come to terms with their strange new environment and its constraints. Questions arise. Is this a game? A prank? A reality TV show? The mystery behind Gantz is the film's driving force.

On outward appearances, Gantz adheres closely to the manga and anime. True, much of the explicit content has been excised, a move sure to make a few fans of the manga irate. A naked girl named Megumi Kishimoto (Natsuna, the physical embodiment of perfection) is beamed into the room, but unlike the anime or the manga the film plays it fairly coy - presumably the filmmakers wanted to reach a wider audience, so their sizeable budget means they could focus more on the visual effects, which are impressive for the most part, and less on the salacious material. But as Gantz rolls on, you get the sense that this is less its own beast and more a Men in Black clone complete with icky gore.

Effects are impressively realised - the targets of the gang are all beautifully drawn, particularly an odd creature who is for all intents and purposes a beatbox robot - this scene is probably the film's highlight. Even if some of the effects are a little low rent, they still work because of the creativity involved. Gore is pretty rampant, what with the guns that cause exploding bodies and limbs, and are also stomped heads and other stuff, but it's not especially horrific - it's slimy rather than outwardly gross.

The look and design of the film is another plus. At the start the only person to wear the skin-tight black latex outfit is the cute girl who we first see arrive naked. She's the first to don the suit - presumably this is done to emphasise her womanly assets - i.e. there are a number of gratuitous butt shots you'll either admire or roll your eyes at, or maybe do both at the same time. But we soon learn that the suits have powers of their own and protect the body from severe trauma, and all this is captured extremely well in a number of chaotic action scenes. Gantz certainly maintains the feel of a manga and/or anime come to life, but unfortunately can't resist going the Hollywood route by culminating in a big, BIG, eye-popping ending chock-full of CGI, but to be honest the first two encounters are much more satisfying - instead of the oddball, deranged encounters in the first two-thirds of the film, we get a finale that feels more God of War than Gantz.

Gantz is glossy entertainment, which means that characters are sacrificed for the next money-shot. Leads Ninomiya and Matsuyama do what they can with their characters, and some detail about their lives is slowly drip-fed to us as the film goes along, but the supporting cast are given little to work with. Essentially we have a bunch of players who are almost solely defined by their appearance: Kishimoto is the girl with big tits, Suzuki is the bespeckled businessman who literally does nothing in the whole film, there's the punk kid Nishi who's the experienced one and looks like he needs a smack in the mouth. Also, many questions are raised. Why is there a time limit? Why must only dead people play the game? To what end? How did all this come to be? Gantz answers little. And the follow-up, Perfect Answer...well, it answers a few questions, but then raises more questions of its own.

Also, the film makes you want to punch your screen in frustration. Time after time the characters just stand there waiting for the baddies to attack them, instead of doing what any normal person would do and fire their guns in defense. Sure, the first time the team is sent into the field they can be forgiven for being a little hesitant. But after the third or fourth encounter, you would think the group would fire their guns at the first sign of danger. Yet for some inexplicable reason no one bothers to shoot - they just stand there open-mouthed gawking at the next imminent, incoming threat to their lives. Just FIRE THE FUCKING THINGS! Go nuts! What are you doing, conserving ammo?

Another criticism of Gantz is that it's a clear lead-in to a second part. The film ends well enough, but then is capped off with a preview of Perfect Answer. So, basically, you need to keep watching.

However, Gantz is so professionally made, and full of eye-candy, that it's difficult to dislike. There are annoyances, but they don't upset the rollercoaster ride all that much, unless you're a diehard fan of the manga, in which case you'll probably recoil in horror at this Hollywood-ised bastardisation of the source material. Most other viewers will find this an entertaining slice of fluff.

Gantz: Perfect Answer (2011)

Gantz: Perfect Answer picks up right where the first film left off - if Gantz was Back to the Future Part II then Perfect Answer is Part III. Surviving characters are having to cope with the deaths of their teammates (who shall go unnamed to avoid spoilers) and some additional characters are thrown into the mix, including a useless detective and a conniving woman with her own agenda. An added layer of confusion is provided with the addition of mini-Gantz balls which may or may not open a door - a very specific door - and there's also a weird underground cult, as well as some more details about Gantz and its oddly specific scoring system. For the sake of avoiding spoilers from the first Gantz, it's difficult to go into too much detail about Perfect Answer; suffice to say it centres less around the hunting antics of the group, and more about the characters wanting to stop Gantz in its tracks. It's also a far less compelling story than the first film.

Despite its title, Gantz: Perfect Answer doesn't deliver a clean, concise and satisfying ending. The film takes its sweet time to get going - it's a good forty minutes before anything really starts to happen - and it raises a ton of new questions in the process, acting all coy about delivering any solid explanations. The pacing is sluggish, because instead of being intrigued by the presence of the room and the black ball and all that, we have been given enough information in Gantz already, meaning that these extra conundrums piled on top of what we already know isn't enough to compel us to keep watching.

Thankfully the action eventually gets going with a show-stopping subway sequence involving guns and magic blades which is thrillingly choreographed. But despite moments of excellence, Perfect Answer proves to be only sporadically as entertaining as Gantz. There's a Matrix-y chase scene on foot that is what you'd undoubtedly get if Neo and Spider-Man had a kid together, but here the CGI is pretty horrible - a definite step-down from some of the visual effects work in the subway sequence, or anything from the first Gantz. Later on we head onto the rooftops and the action here is reminiscent of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, except Ang Lee's masterpiece did it much better with wirework.

There's not much imagination in this one - the monsters in the first were far more memorable - here we get people as baddies, basically, and it's pretty dull. Sure, the carnage is spectacularly realised - tons of explosions, debris and the like - but it all comes crashing down when we get to the unbelievably WTF? ending. Yes, it's over-the-top, perplexing, infuriating, yet somehow suited to the ridiculous shit that came before it. Perfect Answer? That subtitle's a case of false advertising if ever I saw it.

Except - oh, wait it didn't end. Then something else happens... and you wonder what the fuck you just sat through, because it's the equivalent of "it was all a dream", and basically the movie has just decided to piss in your face. What the hell? How the FUCK did that happen? A character says he'll fix it so no one will get called up by Gantz again - except his solution ensures that the exact opposite will happen, unless I've missed the entire point of the ending.

And it just goes on. Perfect Answer is a movie that doesn't want to end. "No - this has to stop" states one character at the two-hour mark, after we've already had several false endings. A bit later he asks, "What's going on? Gantz...is it going to end?" Those lines perfectly sum up this sequel. And then we have another ending tacked onto that one. Perfect Answer has the longest, most unnecessary ending since Castaway. And it's not like Return of the King where, after 9 hours of epic fantasy, you can forgive the director for indulging in a few extended goodbyes from beloved characters.

Gantz: Perfect Answer essentially undoes the good work of the first film in true Matrix sequel fashion. The cast do their best, but the sluggish pace means they're fighting an uphill battle. And the film is long, too long - half an hour could easily have been excised from this mess. So it's the perfect formula for a dud sequel: overblown, overlong, adding unnecessary confusion and muddying what explanations we got in the first film - hey, it really is a Matrix sequel! Or a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel. Overlong, convoluted, mostly uninteresting - it's a fair drop in quality from the zippy and entertaining first film. Only some solid action maintains any interest, as well as an investment in the final outcome by virtue of having spent more than four hours in this world
The Disc
Gantz and Gantz: Perfect Answer look fantastic on Blu-Ray. Picture quality is clear and free of artefacts, as to be expected for a modern, decently-budgeted production. I assumed the two films were shot digitally, but apparently they were shot on film; regardless, picture quality is attractive, pristine and vibrant.

The punchy sound effects highlight the gruesome: the wet, splattery sounds of exploding bodies, the electrical pulses as people are teleported from base to field and back, the action of the alien weapons and suits - they're all extremely evocative and effective. Music is fairly generic, if pulse-pounding whenever needed. Dialogue (Japanese language only, with optional English subtitles) is never overwhelmed by the chaos.

Gantz has the following features:

The Making of Gantz: A behind-the-scenes featurette which is less "talking heads going on about how great the project is" and more actual behind-the-scenes shooting material. It's not incredibly fascinating as a result, although how the makers set up some of the shots is interesting if you like that sort of thing.

Interviews: Interviews with the main cast members including but not limited to Kazunari Ninomiya (Kei), Kenichi Matsuyama (Kato) and Natsuna (Kei Kishimoto), who discuss their impressions of the finished film, the atmosphere on set, their characters and memorable scenes, amongst other things. Director Shinsuke Sato also gives his two cents. This is the longest feature on the disc and far better than the Making Of featurette.

Teasers & Trailers: Three teasers and two trailers.

TV Spots: Three TV spots which crow about the film being number one at the Japanese box office.

The Gantz: Perfect Answer disc contains the following features:

Making of Gantz: Perfect Answer: A very good making of, with lots of behind-the-scenes footage. The main cast give their opinions on the production, creating their characters and the ending. They all seem to agree that the ending was great. Hm. The feature shows the construction of the terrific subway set and filming that particular centrepiece. We also get some of the final shots involving the principal players, which is a nice addition and clearly emotional for some of them.

Fight Choreography: Lots of choreography and fight training in standard-def; presumably edited much like how it was going to appear in the final product. To be brutally honest this isn't very enlightening or interesting, especially compared with the Making Of.

Teaser/Theatrical Trailer: More trailers for Perfect Answer.

The disc also has trailers for other Eastern Eye releases including IP Man: The Legend is Born and Space Battleship Yamato.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Gantz is a reliably solid, action-packed entertainment, shot with distinctive style, and it's a compelling watch all the way through. Gantz: Perfect Answer is a confounding, frustrating and bloated experience that has some great moments but can't quite deliver on the promise set up by the first film. Minor frustrations aside, this Gantz two-film pack delivers the goods so far as its "Men in Black meets The Matrix" premise allows. Visual effects are impressive and there's lots of blood and explosive set-pieces, which help to take attention away from some of the plot's unanswered questions. Fans of the manga or anime may feel let down by the fact that the films skimped on the adult content, explicit violence and nudity in favour of a more Hollywood-ised version of the Gantz they know and love, but the end results are pleasingly entertaining.
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