In The Game, the venerable mind-fuck con movie (set in San Francisco!), director David Fincher presciently asked the question: What is not the game? You can usually tell what the game is, but what about what it isn't, or what isn't it? The film's telling shot is of Michael Douglas locked in a car, underwater and sinking fast. It's just a game, he chants. Just a game. A new manga and anime-based Japanese live-action film, Gantz, takes a different angle on the same question, as two teenagers are killed, or not, and suddenly find themselves more or less transformed into third-person shooters. Are they just avatars? Are they playing the game? They have to shoot aliens, and they can still die so are they really dead? Their controller is Gantz, a large black robotic ball with a man inside; he gives them guns and tells them who to track down. Instead of Douglas and a fantastically flipped-out Sean Penn, we get Detroit Metal City's dorky hottie Kenichi Matsuyama and Letters from Iwo Jima's Kazunari Ninomiya in tonight's U.S. premiere screening.
Sat., Feb. 19, 7:15 p.m., 2011