Stephen reviews: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Starring Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche, Michael Pitt, Chin Han, Peter Ferdinando

Directed by Rupert Sanders


I was looking forward to this movie with a mixture of hope and dread. My expectations were set low, but at the same time I had a hunch that Ghost in the Shell was possibly the only anime franchise that might work well as a Hollywood production. The serious tone, cyberpunk setting, and evil corporations mesh well with the kind of FX-heavy, sci-fi action films that Hollywood likes to churn out. So does it work? Well, if by working you mean that it is a functional mass market formulaic Hollywood film, then yes I suppose it does. It checks off all the boxes that modern Hollywood films are supposed to have at any rate.

The film is basically a hodgepodge of scenes from the various anime titles, mostly the first movie, so it was pretty much all stuff I’ve already seen. I can’t really call this a bad thing since this is an adaptation of the story. This live-action film was honestly in a tough spot. It had to stay true enough to the original to avoid pissing off the fanboys, but it still had to have enough mainstream appeal to make a profit. On top of that, there has never been a truly successful Hollywood anime adaptation (sure, I liked Fist of the North Star, but that was hardly a commercial hit), so they were understandably playing this pretty cautiously and avoiding risky artistic decisions. This leaves the film kinda drab, neither good nor bad.

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Battle Royale (2000)

poster01Battle Royale [バトル・ロワイアル] (2000)

Starring Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto, Takeshi Kitano, Chiaki Kuriyama, Sosuke Takaoka, Takashi Tsukamoto, Yukihiro Kotani, Eri Ishikawa, Sayaka Kamiya, Aki Inoue

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku

Expectations: High.

threehalfstar


From the opening moments, Battle Royale grabs you and refuses to let go. It’s not a movie that everyone will be able to stomach, but for those willing to look past the controversial nature of high school kids being forced into a fight to the death, you will find a film that offers much more than simple violence. I had expected it to be hardcore and unflinching — which it definitely is — but I hadn’t expected there to be a touching story underlying the entire film. That’s more my naivety than anything else, although all I’ve ever heard about this movie was how totally awesome it was. I just always assumed that was referring to the kid violence for some reason.

At the dawn of the millennium, the nation collapsed. At 15% unemployment, 10 million were out of work. 800,000 students boycotted school and juvenile crime rates soared. Adults had lost all confidence, and now fearing the youth they eventually passed the Millennium Educational Reform Act. AKA: the BR Act.

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