by Theron Martin,

Gantz II: Perfect Answer

Blu-Ray + DVD

Gantz II: Perfect Answer Blu-Ray + DVD
Five months have passed since the events of the first movie. In that time a police detective has been investigating the strange disappearances and mayhem that may be associated with “the room with the black ball” and comes across an odd cult-like group. Meanwhile, Kei has been regularly hanging out with Tae (though they aren't officially dating) and Kato's younger brother, trying to pretend that Kato is just gone for work and will be coming back soon, while continuing to participate in Gantz's missions with a team that is becoming a well-oiled unit and racking up nearly the 100 point total for him and others. Kato – or someone who looks like him – seems to be walking around normally, though, and a model is offing people under the direction of a tiny version of Gantz in order to send them to the room. When a hairy alien-fighting mission on a subway train turns into a massacre which affects the public, too, disturbing questions are raised which cannot be assuaged even by the resurrection of the real Kato. When a final mission comes with unexpected quickness, its nature forces Kei to decide where his priorities lie – even if that means going against his fellow players.

Most of the first live-action Gantz movie followed the story shown in the anime version with a high degree of correlation, but the second movie strikes out in an almost entirely new direction. The only element of the anime which remains is that Kei eventually finds himself at odds with some of the other players because of a stunt that Gantz pulls. Everything else – from the introduction of a smaller version of Gantz to the true identities of the newly-recruited players to everyone's ultimate fate – is new, which can make the sense of discovery here quite a thrill. Indeed, that combined with some respectable action sequences and good use of musical score helps cover up a passel of deficiencies, ones that are all the more glaring the more one concentrates on them.

Some of the problems are continuations of ones seen in the first movie. Characters still have a tendency to pose too much, especially when they aren't talking, which gives many scenes a very artificial feel. The acting is also still B movie-grade at best when the characters have anything to act at all, as a lot of the time they are just delivering lines. The biggest new problem is that a lot of what's going on simply does not make much sense. What, exactly, the deal is with the small Gantz ball, and why it seems to be working at cross purposes with the full-sized one, is never explained, nor is why the fourth person designated as being a key to access into the Gantz room actually is a key. (The first three make a certain amount of sense once you find out who they really are.) The move only makes sense if one thinks about it as an excuse to cause a rift amongst the Gantz players, and that is hardly sound writing. The origin and real nature of Gantz is also never explained, but that is a more forgivable problem since Gantz represents the element of mystery in the story, much like the cube in Cube.

On the plus side, the movie does at least attempt some relationship-building as Kei and Tae gradually feel their way towards becoming a couple. Natsuna Watanabe only briefly reprises her role as Kishimoto, but the couple of new hotties who get added to the cast more than make up for her absence. The movie also delivers plenty of graphic action, with most of it concentrated into three long sequences: the earlier one where the fight on the subway goes down against the Men in Black aliens, a chase scene late in the movie where the Gantz players have to fight and pursue each other, and a climactic showdown with the false Kato whose first part happens on the streets and whose second part happens in the Gantz room.

Special effects this time are more minimal, as no creatures needed to be animated in CG; all of the combatants are human or at least human-looking. Their quality is hit-or-miss, with one scene involving a subway car literally getting cut in half looking spectacular but a later scene where Gantz players are bouncing back and forth off of walls to scale a building looking cheap. The fights still have a lot of zing, though, with plenty of flashing swords, automatic weapon fire, acrobatic maneuvers, and people getting thrown around super-hero/villain-style. While people are definitely shown getting shot up in droves and/or cut down, the movie restrains itself from using heavy amounts of blood and only one or two shots come even close to nudity. The suits still look quite cool, though, and the Gantz-themed katanas, complete with the signature Gantz luminescent circles in their hilts, are neat touches. Interestingly, the movie does (perhaps unintentionally?) show that a katana is too long to be fully practical for swinging around in a subway car.

On the audio front, Perfect Answer uses a similar-sounding but generally even more intense musical score compared to the first movie, with its driving beats and ability to enhance tension once again being the movie's strongest production merit. The acting of the original cast, which returns all actors who characters survived the first movie (and some that didn't), wasn't. Yuriko Yoshitaka has a natural warmth as Tae and Tomorow Taguchi, who reprises his role as Suzuki, gets a bigger part here and takes advantage it to bring his character out well, but otherwise Japanese performances were mediocre at best. The English dub comes from the same source as for the first movie and does just as unimpressive a job as the dub for the first one did, though they did not have much to work with here, either. It's not glaringly bad, just not terribly good.

New People Entertainment's release of the second movie, like for the first one, comes on three disks: one each Blu-Ray and DVD for the movie and a DVD with the Extras. (A DVD only version is also available.) The Extras consist of a collection of unsubtitled and undubbed movie trailers, a collection of cast interviews for the major roles in both movies, and a 22 minute interview with the director, which reveals that most of the actors for the major roles were hand-picked for the roles, discusses various philosophies regarding approaches used with the movie, and provides some behind-the-scenes footage. It is not particularly heavy on substance but still a worthwhile view.

The ending chosen for Perfect Answer is an original one, and one that may not set well with some viewers, as it is a bit of a cop-out. Still, it is a definitive ending, and the movie rides along well enough on its look and action merits to get it to that point; in fact, it does not feel as long as its 142 minute running time suggests that it should. Don't think too hard about it and it can be an entertaining romp.

Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C+
Music : B+

+ Strong musical score, plenty of action.
Mediocre average acting quality, many elements aren't explained and/or don't make sense.

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Production Info:
Director: Shinsuke Satō
Screenplay: Yuusuke Watanabe
Music: Kenji Kawai
Original creator: Hiroya Oku
Executive producer: Seiji Okuda

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