“Your lives have ended. What you do with your new lives is entirely up to me.” – Gantz the movie

Gantz movie

photo via Viz Pictures

About a week ago I had the chance to see the new live-action Gantz movie on its one day showing here in the States. I had actually won a free pass from VIZ to see it here in Nashville (it was being broadcast live from LA to theaters around the country) and convinced a couple of friends to go with me. We braved the ice that was coating Nashville that night to check out a live-action movie based on a manga and anime that none of us were really familiar with. I’d seen the first few episodes of the anime about a year prior but hadn’t watched any since.

I do have to admit that part of the reason I was so excited to see it was that I discovered one of my favorite actors, Matsuyama Kenichi (who played L in the live-action Death Note movies) would be one of the main characters.

Well, the live intro to the movie was hosted by someone who definitely was not made to host such things. Honestly, I think we would have thrown popcorn at the screen if we’d had any. It was nice to see that they had the two lead actors (and their translators) brought up on stage for a quick intro and a reminder of a Q&A session after the movie. Then it started.

There was disappointment right off the bat when we realized that the movie would be dubbed in English rather than in Japanese with English subtitles. As you know, I’m an incredible snob when it comes to my anime and foreign films and shudder when I have to deal with dubbing, especially bad dubbing as was the case with Gantz. When I had the chance to see “L: Change the WorLd” in theaters last year they did a neat thing where they had one night that showed the dubbed version and one night that showed a subtitled version. I realize that with a live broadcast it would have been impossible to do that but they might have offered a second night advertising the recorded intro and Q&A but offering the dubbed version that night. Even in the Q&A the actors mentioned they wished that the audiences could have heard their real voices.

Still, we plowed through the movie.

And honestly, it was pretty good if you ignored the dubbing.

The action is EXTREMELY slow to build. And it’s not just in the movie, the manga and anime are also slow to build up as well. There were many times that all of us in the audience were shouting “just shoot him already!” during moments when the camera seemed to spend 5 minutes on someone who just stood there without moving. As is typical in anime, this live-action movie does focus a lot on still shots of characters so if you have a short attention span you might find yourself being frustrated with the slowness of things.

Let me also point out that the movie doesn’t explain much. But then, neither does the anime or manga that covers the same ground as the movie. So, that does remain the same. I haven’t finished the anime yet but I’m really hoping that some things get figured out soon.

The movie does end on a neat cliffhanger that had me all “Mwaah?!” in my seat. So that was a good ending. During the live Q&A session after the movie we did get to see a preview for Gantz 2 which is already done and will be released later this year I believe. The actors were wonderful and fun to listen to and watch. Matsuyama’s interpreter had to have a good memory as that boy can really go on at length with his answers. Part of the fun was watching his interpreter stand there with a distant look on his face as he tried to memorize it all. Again, the host was absolutely abysmal but oh well.

I’m extremely interested in getting this one when it hits DVD so that I can watch it in Japanese. I’m sure I’ll love it much more once I get rid of the ridiculous English dubbing. And Gantz 2 looks to have much more action in it (I should hope so since they did all the build up in this first one) so I’m hoping for a US release of that in theaters as well.

All in all, I think it’s worth checking out. Beware of the violence and large number of naked boobs in the anime and manga. (not so much in the movie) And when I saw violence I mean violence on an Elfen Lied scale. I’m not squeamish but even I had moments of “Oh. My. God.” You might want to read the manga or watch the anime first though and be prepared for the slow pace and utter confusion of the plot. It’s the same in all three mediums…but so far I think it’s really worth it.