Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The Stars: Kazunari Ninomiya, Kenichi Matsuyama, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Takayuki Yamada.
The Story: For the unfamiliar, the first Gantz movie released in 2010 followed high school buddies Kei Kurono (Ninomiya from Japanese boyband Arashi) and Masaru Kato (Matsuyama) who were killed while trying to rescue a homeless person.
They awaken to find themselves holed up with a bunch of other clueless people in a mysterious apartment occupied by a huge black orb controlled by a naked, unconscious man known only as Gantz. They eventually discover themselves part of a strange game where they’re tasked with eliminating alien forces, thereby earning themselves points for every successful kill – enabling them to resurrect players or leave the game once they have enough points. Kato is eventually killed in the concluding skirmish.
The sequel takes off with Kei vowing to revive Kato, while struggling with double duties of caring for his buddy’s orphaned younger brother and completing missions for Gantz. Meanwhile unbeknownst to Kei and the other players, they are being monitored by a cop (Yamada) and other enemies bent on uncovering the secrets of Gantz.
The Buzz: Originally created as a manga by Hiroya Oku, Gantz has gained cult status in its native Japan and other countries, including the U.S where it’s being licensed by publishing powerhouse Dark Horse Comics. Besides two feature films, the popular franchise has also inspired an anime series, a novel as well as a console game.
inSing.com says: While the actual Gantz storyline was a lot darker and markedly brutal, the film versions tone down the gore and amps up the emotions – particularly for this second installment. Purists of the manga would have preferred more Battle Royale-esque type moments, though the action directing is pretty slick and wicked in its own way.
Choreographer Yuji Shimomura (Shinobi, Aragami, Alive) displays some credible finesse, with the subway fight between the Gantz warriors and creepy aliens being the highlight of the film. Shimomura manages to expand the cramped spaces in the train, creating a slaughtering sequence that’s much more sinister and fluid.
Casting wise, Ninomiya will forever remain a strange choice for a cyber-punk action hero given his teeny-bopper status and diminutive stature, though physically he does fit his character well and carries the softer sides of Kei quite impressively. Matsuyama, whose roles in the Death Note series and Detroit Metal City really made us sit up and notice him as an actor, also does a fine job portraying wounded tough guy. The rest of the cast have little screen time to showcase themselves, but ultimately complement their lead co-stars adequately.
While there are some glaring loopholes in the plot, and a few of the effects emanate a rather B-grade vibe, Gantz 2is an engaging, generally tightly plotted effortthat leaves enough room for development of future sequels.