Director: Shinsuke Sato
Writer: Hiroya Oku, Yusuke Watanabe
Cast: Kazunari Ninomiya, Ken’ichi Matsuyama, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Takayuki Yamada, Gou Ayano, Kanata Hongo, Ayumi Ito, Tomorowo Taguchi
Running Time: 141 min.
“Perfect Answer” picks up right where the first live-action “Gantz” movie left off and does exactly what you’d hope a sequel would do. The plot is denser, the stakes are raised for our heroes, and the action is even more violent and impressive. If you didn’t enjoy the first film, “Perfect Answer” won’t change your mind – and if you didn’t see that one, the story here probably won’t make a lick of sense. Hell, this flick is enough of a head-scratcher for returning viewers. But it’s a wild ride to the end.
The best sequels toss our beloved characters into a pressure cooker that forces excruciating decisions and threatens great personal loss. In other words: the gloves are off. The first “Gantz” featured a heavy quotient of character death but, let’s face it, the aliens our protagonists faced in that movie were a bit on the “cute” side.
Not so in “Perfect Answer.” The foes here appear to be of a singular alien race, one that is determined to get revenge for the extraterrestrial homicides committed by the Gantz crew in the first movie. These aliens are seemingly able to take the form of any human – their only tell is their inky black eyes, like the aliens from “The X-Files.” Not only that but they’re able to materialize weapons such as swords from their bodies, similar to the T-1000 from “Terminator 2,” and they’re about as indestructible as him too.
We get our first taste of what these foes are capable of during a lengthy setpiece that takes place on a subway train. This sequence is the highlight of the entire film and, I dare say, one of finest action sequences of the past several years. This battle pushes the Gantz heroes to their full abilities as they engage in sword fights and gun duels with several black-eyed aliens. The fight choreography here is breath-taking, with some of the most ferocious sword-fighting I’ve ever seen captured on film, and it’s all brilliantly edited and directed so the audience doesn’t miss a beat of the action. And for the first time, our protagonists’ mission has a high human casualty rate as dozens of civilians are mercilessly slaughtered on the train. Yes, I’d say the stakes have been raised.
Even more so than the first film “The Perfect Answer” is a blockbuster sci-fi action movie. The high number of special effects sequences in this movie would be a rarity for a Hollywood movie, let alone a Japanese film. Although I noticed a shot here and there lifted from “The Dark Knight” or even “Twilight,” director Shinsuke Sato proves himself beyond suited for this kind of picture. The action here is epic in scale and requires a great deal of coordination – practical effects, computer effects, numerous characters, intense fight choreography.
Not many filmmakers in the world are capable of helming this kind of film and doing it so well. Shinsuke Sato has elevated himself to the level of the big leagues – there are times when I got a serious James Cameron-esque vibe from this film. Sato has come a long way from 2001’s “Princess Blade,” which seemed like a low-budget cash-in on the success of “Versus.” Sato’s next picture, which is currently in post-production, is about the disintegration of a marriage; but if he eventually decides to return to the realm of big budget spectacle, there’s no telling what he could do next.
“Perfect Answer” succeeds at being a bigger and better film than its predecessor. That said, it’s not without its flaws. The assorted human characters, who were nicely fleshed out in the first movie, don’t receive much development. In fact, main protagonist Kei almost doesn’t even seem like the same person from “Gantz” – apparently he’s managed to smooth over his personal flaws and raging hormones in the 5 months that passed between the two films. Similarly, the evil aliens don’t receive much explanation. Their motivation throughout the entire 140 minute movie is a blanket statement of revenge. The viewer is left to wonder: how are they connected to the aliens seen in the first movie? Not to mention the dozens of unanswered questions about who Gantz is and where he comes from. Considering how long the epilogue of this film goes on, you’ll be surprised at how many questions it leaves unanswered.
It takes “Perfect Answer” a good 20 minutes to set up its cryptic sci-fi plot. From there, the film is almost non-stop: kinetic fight scenes, excellent soundtrack cues, and a mind-bending story. The cast does an adequate job despite being saddled with the difficult task of being taken seriously while emoting in skin-tight black leather. Devotees of the “Gantz” manga or anime may take issue with the film and how it deviates from the source material, but on its own merits “Perfect Answer” is an entertaining sci-fi blockbuster and one of the best action movies I’ve seen in awhile.
HKFanatic’s Rating: 8.5/10