amatyultare: (team tyler's van)
[personal profile] amatyultare
For those of you who were reluctant to see Gantz because you don't enjoy watching violent films, let me remove that obstacle – there's surprisingly little explicit violence in this movie. (Barring a first fight scene – just cover your eyes for the onion people.)

Unfortunately, that still leaves about a dozen reasons to run screaming from this movie. I don't think I'll be able to sleep until I vent, so let's run down the list, shall we?

Let's start with the first thing I noticed. I admit that I've always been more in favor of subtitles than dubs, but I like to think that I'm fair if a dub is actually good. So I don't think it's just my bias when I say the dubbing was atrocious. About half of the American voice actors were okay, and the other half were terrible. I guess I should get a second job as a voice actor, because it apparently requires no acting skill whatsoever. In fact, at times the intonation was so off that I wondered if the voice actors just came in for the first time, picked up the script, read it off without looking through it first, and called it a day.

It didn't help that the English translation of the script was terrible. It managed to be stilted AND not match the actors' lip movements. Possibly this was part of the acting problem; the script was so bad they couldn't do anything with it. But to be fair, we can't entirely blame the English translation; it's clear that the Japanese version was pretty bad too. Once you get past the poor acting, you realize...

...there are many, many ridiculous things in this story. I don't mean ridiculous as in 'straining suspension of disbelief'; I mean, 'absurd behaviors and inconsistencies'. When you have a gun and are aiming at the bad guy as he runs at you, you SHOOT him, you don't run away and throw the gun on top of a car as he tackles you. The guns and the transportation take different amounts of time to work depending on the dramatic needs of the plot. And my favorite part: at one point, an angry bad guy seriously wounds one of our 'heros', then politely waits at the other end of the room while the hero has a long, drawn-out deathbed scene with the remaining protagonists. Then they fight some more, another protagonist is injured...and AGAIN the vengeful antagonist just kind of hangs out while a slow final-farewell, I-always-loved-you, I-will-avenge-your-death scene plays out between two utterly defenseless people. People that he wants to kill. I'm just saying.

That's right, two loooong deathbed scenes. (Actually, I lied. There are four deathbed scenes. Two are for the same character.) And that's symptomatic of another problem of this story; the plot focuses on the wrong things. A bit of background for those of you who aren't familiar: Gantz is a story about a group of people who were about to die but instead get mysteriously teleported to a room with a sphere in it. The being inside the sphere, called Gantz, tells the people that their lives are now his. He sends them out on a mission to kill aliens 'trying to invade Earth'. If you survive the mission, you get healed and sent back home – until the next mission. The manga and anime are apparently both quite explicitly gory and sex-filled. Which frankly, makes sense; it's a kind of horrific concept, what with the killing people and being totally unprepared and believing you were about to die and all. It's almost a little post-apocalyptic because these people's personal worlds have collapsed – but the real world is still fine and they have to pretend to be fine, which almost makes it worse. So yeah, fear and despair and bonding and love and hate and desperate end-of-the-world sex, I would completely be on board for all that. Instead, what we get is...a love rectangle. A mopey, angsty, staring-hopelessly-at-your-crush wannabe drama. I wish I were kidding. And maybe it would have even worked if I had cared about the characters. But, nope!

The characters are boring and kind of pathetic. I understand that the characters were actually much jerkier in the manga/anime, and to be honest I kind of wish they had stayed that way. It's not as if I liked any of the protagonists anyway, since they were either vaguely rude but bland or timid transparent plot devices. Perhaps meanness would have given the protagonists some motivations (for example, selfishness). Also, a tip for writers: there is such a thing as too much realism. Is it realistic for a bunch of people thrust into violent situations to go into shock and stand around looking blank? Sure. But it's not good storytelling. The patience your audience has for watching the cast stare with their mouths open while the bad guys stomp around is very limited. Either write in narrative devices to keep the characters going (a la Evangelion) or WRITE TOUGHER CHARACTERS. (Also, protip: if you write in a secondary character, never tell us anything about him, and kill him off, your audience doesn't care. Writing in another five and killing them off as well? Will not make us care any more.)

And then we get to my least favorite part of the movie. All of the other elements were bad, but not out of the range of what I've seen before from bad movies. But I honestly don't think I've ever seen a movie with such poor pacing as Gantz. The movie drags on until I wanted to scream. There are unnecessary scenes that go on forever (see: four deathbed scenes). There are long, boring conversations. There are long, boring silences. Heck, even the fight scenes seem to go on too long. Even worse, the movie feels like a few episodes of a TV show, not a single coherent narrative. Not only does this make the cut of the movie very awkward (there are some blantant 'commercial break!' scene endings), but it means there are several fake endings. Given that the movie already felt three times longer than it was, this was especially painful; I would find myself saying, “Is it over? Is this the end? Are we doARGH NO IT'S A NEW SCENE WE PROBABLY HAVE ANOTHER 45 MINUTES WHYYYYY.” After the first time that happened, I was jaded; after the second time, I was positively resentful towards the story's continued existence.

Bottom line: I don't particularly regret going to see it myself – there's a certain pleasure in seeing even a really bad movie with good friends – but I can't recommend it unless you're feeling masochistic.

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amatyultare

January 2014

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