Note: this is a modified version of my SDCC 2011 review of Gantz II, incorporating a look at the recent Blu-ray release.

A live-action conclusion of GANTZ was an unlikely candidate for one of my favorite films of last year's crop of summer movies, which was ultimately disappointing stream of big-budget comic-to-screen efforts that were better tech demos for their game tie-ins that actual movies. That GANTZ II seems to overcome the recent trend of failure among big-budget Japanese action extravaganzas to figure out how to spend their money on effects--GANTZ is pretty, and its effects generally plausible-looking--is a triumph in and of itself. But most importantly, the movie maintains its own rhythms without losing the audience, bringing together about two and a half hours of story in without feeling overlong, providing a few real characters moments to shine while still leaving enough of an enigma to warrant future installments.
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New People Entertainment to release the second half of the live-action manga/anime adaptation on January 14th.
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I think at this point, the record will show that I'm pretty much in the tank for the live-action GANTZ movies. At this point, that just needs to be taken as fact. Still, with the recent release of the New People/Warner Brothers Blu-ray of the first film, I don't think it would hurt anything to try to persuade you if you haven't already been convinced to check these bloody, crazy movies out.

As a refresher, the movies are based on the 32-volume manga of the same name by Hiroya Oku which involves Japanese citizens snatched from their moment of death to participate in a mysterious, deadly game conducted by an ominous black ball called GANTZ. GANTZ teleports the "players" out onto the Tokyo streets and tasks them with killing aliens with a high-tech arsenal before the time on their clocks run out. Each alien killed results in points, and if a player gets 100 points, they are free to either resurrect another player who has fallen in the game or to have their memory erased and their normal, pre-GANTZ lives restored.

The first movie covers the arrival of former childhood friends Kei Kurono (Kazunari Ninomiya) and Masaru Kato (Ken'ichi Matsuyama) into the game after both are hit by a train immediately following saving a homeless man who fell on the tracks. Kei is a listless college student struggling to find a job and Kato is a gentle young man with a troubled past who simply wants to look out for his younger brother, Ayumu.
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The adaptation of the brutal sci-fi manga loses some of the original's gruesome charm, but (mostly) sticks the landing.
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Going to San Diego next week? Then why not check out this bloody sci-fi duo?

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