A japanese film getting a world premiere in the U.S? It must be the live-action adaptation of manga/anime Gantz, the kind of stuff having a cult-following outside Japan. An english-dubbed version of the 1st part was screened (to a sold-out theater & a live-broadcast nationwide) on January 20th.
And as you can guess, tons of reviews are now online, time to sum it up!
Most critics start the same way, what can we expect from an adaptation? ANN writes “how could even the hardest R rating contain Oku’s pitch-black adults-only story? [...] The answer is simple: rip Gantz’s cynical, nasty soul right out and leave only the story’s shadow in place.” While CA asks, “It it any good? Does it live up to the manga? The short answer is, no, it isn’t, and no, it really does not.”
So, fans expecting a faithful version should be dissapointing? That’s not the point of view of CWR, who thinks it’s “a solid adaptation of the manga and the anime“, and that “It was to be expected that a live-action film would tone down both aspects [nudity & violence] of the source material“. In fact, it’s not “perfect, but very entertaining“. Just don’t think Gantz will be like Zack Snyder’s “slavishly faithful live-action film” Watchmen (not a good example, keeping the original narrative structure doesn’t mean you understand the medium itself and its needs – remember?).
But then, giving “the audience a sense of the original material” isn’t enough for some. DVDTalk explains some differences, “Kei Kurono (Kazunari Ninomiya) is basically nothing like the character fans came to know and love/hate. In the anime Kei was a total asshole with real, deep-seeded issues. The Kei of the live action version is practically the nicest guy around in comparison”
Another interesting point made by ANN, “they decided to remove most of the scenes that establish the three lead characters as tragic figures with difficult pasts, struggling to fit back in to a world they’ve already been removed from once“. Does it mean it’s a soulless/heartless movie, more than just a “failed” adaptation?
CA‘s conclusion is forthright, “It’s bland, and for a book like Gantz, bland is the worst kind of adaptation to have“, adding that it’s “just another post-Matrix movie where people wear skintight suits and fight a hidden menace. It feels like a Power Rangers movie with the violence turned up to a hard PG-13“.
A more optimistic conclusion from Mania, “Gantz is a fast paced, slickly designed film with spectacular effects [...] a very entertaining film that should please non-Gantz fans as well existing fans that are willing to look at the feature as an alternate take on the franchise“.
But what about the technical aspect of the film? Remember live-action 20th Century Boys movies? It was visually dull, looking like some terrible films made for TV. So according to ANN, Gantz “is a slick-looking, technically well-made picture that rises above the lacking production values that smear so many other anime and manga adaptations.“.
By the way, the english dub is unanimously said to be “pretty poor“. And let’s keep in mind that’s only the first part of Gantz, the second film will be out later in 2011.