There’s no way around it, the 3-D CG action flick “Gantz: O” is nuts, just like the manga it’s based on.
“Gantz,” the movie is a fearless work of imagination, chock full of beautifully rendered creatures and brutal violence. Unlike the manga it’s based on, “Gantz: O” is limited by the medium. A movie can only fit in so many set pieces and monsters, so the movie opts instead for a few memorable sequences over a hodgepodge of smaller ones.
There are enough terrifying monsters in here to change that, but director Yasushi Kawamura wisely uses them as a backdrop for the real big bad. Even then, a problem arises: how do you explain all these monsters? Thankfully, everyone in the movie wonders the same thing. The most asked question is, ‘What’s going on?’ and it has a beautifully simple answer: There are monsters from outer space running around wreaking havoc. Even then, the sheer number of them can get overwhelming.
Ending this chaos, though, has a not-so-simple answer. Our heroes, called gamers, are recently deceased people forced by an autonomous 8-Ball to kill those monsters in a set amount of time for points. Once someone reaches 100 points, they can either return to their life or resurrect a dead teammate. The movie follows Masura (Daisuke Ono) after he’s murdered on his little brother’s birthday. He wakes up in a small room (“Gantz: O’s” version of a loading screen) with the model Reika (Saori Hayami), the old man Suzuki (Shuichi Ikeda) and the young hothead Nishi (Tomohiro Kaku). As their name implies, they’re usually sent to Tokyo to fight, but this time, they’re sent to Osaka. There, they face a threat unlike any before, Nurarihyon, a monster in the skin of a small old man.
If that premise sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is. Most of the violence is over-the-top enough to not feel alienating, but there are some genuinely unsettling moments. The line between those kinds of violence is thin, and the movie walks it well, exploiting death as much as it explores it. Blood here is measured in gallons, and bodies are counted by the thousands. When something happens in “Gantz: O,” it’s big by design. Even smaller character moments, however weak they might be, operate on a massive scale.
“Gantz: O” is more like a video game than a movie, except the people and monsters are very real. It’s not explained clearly how the gamers operate in the real world. They’re essentially zombies with “Crysis” suits and energy-powered weaponry who can take a serious beating. Its main problem is that it builds a fascinating world and doesn’t explore it nearly enough, certainly not as much as the eponymous Manga series. For an adapted franchise like this, that’s not a bad problem to have.