Tag Archives: ghost in the shell

Premature Movie Reviews (2017)

Since I so accurately gauged the quality of last year’s set of pop culture blancmange-athons in slightly cryptic and vague ways (I’m still not quite sure what “Will Smith’s rap career / 10” actually means), I thought I’d dust off the old crystal ball, pull the soothsayer out of the fridge, and give it another crack. Maybe this can become an actual thing with a schedule, although it’s basically the end of January by this point so maybe not.

Helpfully, it seems that Hollywood is dumping a million bajillion films on us this year, so to stem the tide a bit I’ve added some vague categories. Notice that not one of them is anything along the lines of ‘new interesting franchise with promise that could be a big deal for the company’, no, they’re all fucking sequels again. Onwards!



The big obvious thing to start with is your regular overpowered idiots in shiny spandex. They’re still extremely popular for reasons unbeknownst to modern science, so I should probably talk about them.


First of all, we get to see if DC can dig themselves out of their overly gritty hole with some hopeful course correction, aiming to move away from gleeful Batman murders to something a bit less grim. It doesn’t help, then, that Justice League looks like The Jetsons if it was set in the Holocaust, while Wonder Woman is The First Avenger in a different war and with less sensible clothing options. It’ll also have to do a hell of a lot to convince me that the pose-able mannequin in a tiara that we saw in Batman v Superman: The Broodenating can actually act. They might as well charge people to inhale a gravel driveway.

Rating – A donut filled with wallpaper paste and slugs / 10



Meanwhile, Marvel continue to churn out the same film over and over again in the form of Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, two films that I can’t possibly be excited for when I know they only exist as setup, like a two-hour filler episode of a TV show that’s stalling for time. Thor might have something fun for Hulk to do rather than play emotional pattycake with a forced love interest, and Guardians will have some amazing, new, innovative soundtrack that James Gunn found down the back of his dad’s sofa one rainy Tuesday evening, but it’s impossible to be excited for Marvel films anymore. Hopefully the giant purple thumb in a chair will do something soon.

Rating – A Panini album of Fisher Price workbenches / 10



After last year’s incredibly boring X-Men: Apocalypse, Fox are clawing (heh) one last payday from Mr Huge Jackhammer with the dusty depressing Logan before he sods off to be far too handsome somewhere else. Quite what the fuck they’re doing with the plot is anyone’s guess, given they’ve re-tooled one of the most insanely violent and depressing (or ‘mature’ if you’re a pissant) comic book storylines into a knock-off of The Last of Us but with sand instead of zombies. They’ve also put the post-apocalypse a measly decade away, just so they can introduce a character that will be usable later in the franchise. Inevitably boring and pointless.

Rating – Three perfectly good clocks that have been dropped in a woodchipper and re-sold as a toaster / 10



While Fox are experts at being very boring, Sony appear to be the best in the world at ruining immensely popular things; they’ve had five cracks at Spiderman now, and have managed to get it right a stellar one-and-a-half times. Having somehow failed to understand the appeal of a talkative teenage wanker who jizzes from his wrists, Sony have had their toys ripped off them for Spiderman: Homecoming, with Marvel promptly throwing Robert Downey Jr and a couple of jokes in, as is the way. It’s not hard, Sony.

Rating – Reddit: The Movie / 10



If Hollywood isn’t busy making superheroes for every age, ethnicity, gender, culture, species, blood type, fursona, and flu strain to relate to, they’re busy remaking an old thing we used to like in the hope we recognise it and throw money at them, like a dog distracted by some keys. It seems that executives are imaginatively bankrupt and can’t stomach the idea of having ideas. Presumably they explode when asked for ranch or barbeque.


Instead of just watching the originals on Netflix we’re now gifted the pleasure of amazing ‘new’ (massive quotations) versions of things, such as Alien: Covenant, whose alternative title should probably be Prometheus -0.2: Maybe You’ll Like This One Instead. Some sort of weird prequel/sequel/reboot/parallel universe, it’s just the first Alien on repeat but filmed in spacey blue spook-o-vision and with your old pal Fassassin’s Creedbender in it again for no particular reason.

Rating – Laminating a VHS tape / 10



Other pointless franchise rumblings come from Kong: Skull Island, a film which will almost certainly have some people looking for a giant monkey for half the film then running away from it for the other half, and Blade Runner 2049, a film which should never exist. It’d be like making A Clockwork Lemon where Alex is suddenly un-brainwashed and sat at home watching TV.

There’s also Baywatch and Jumanji, films linked by their starring roles being taken by a man known more by his genetic link to boulders than his real name; The Mummy, which won’t be nearly as entertaining as it’s botched trailer was; and for some reason XXX: The Return of Vin Diesel and a Motorbike or Something, featuring gnarly bike jumps and off-key edgy one-liners that just sort of make you a bit confused more than anything.

All of these movies would be pretty highly anticipated if it was 2004. Shame it isn’t, then.

Rating – Laminating a VHS tape that everyone wishes you’d thrown out several decades ago / 10



We also have Ghost in the Shell, which promises to be a series of anime set pieces re-shot in live action, strung together by half a plot that’s notionally about AI and technology and whatever but mostly just makes vague coo-ing promises of nearly nude robo-Johansson. This, depressingly, will be enough for some.

Finally, there’s the baffling Power Rangers film, which has taken such an amazing tonal shift from the original franchise that I’m amazed it hasn’t broken in half from the torque. Imagine Fant4stic, but made of Skittles.

Rating – Laminating a VHS tape that nobody remembers you ever having, and now the laminator’s broken so you’ve just shat plastic all over your film, you idiot / 10


Standard Sequel Land!!

Yes, pretty much everything in this list is a sequel. However, while the others at least had some flavour, things like Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Dead Franchises Make No Money appear to be happening for presumably some reason, but nothing to do with what any member of the public could possibly want. You can lump Transformers 5: The Last Straw in with this as well, as it’s guaranteed to make infuriating amounts of money despite basically being one of those sleazy American second-hand dealership adverts with the boobs and the cars and the racism, but stretched to 600 minutes with a load of random CGI metal flailing everywhere as a distraction. Despicable Me 3: Yellow Bastards Forever will shove more fucking minions down your throat until you choke to death on the tiny bean-shaped cunts (I’m not a fan), while Cars 3 seems to be attempting to do gritty realism in an animated franchise that has a redneck tow truck screaming and yodelling every five minutes. Fifty Shades Darker is porn for people who don’t understand the internet (or porn), Saw 8 is torture porn for people who don’t understand the internet (or basic common decency), and World War Z 2 is a film with an abomination of a title that’ll have even less to do with the book than the first one. It’ll probably be just as underwhelming to boot, if it even comes out.

Rating – Landfill / 10



In terms of actually slightly interesting sequels, Lego Batman is another shameless cash in but one that stands at least a slight chance of being alright, given the previous shameless cash in was surprisingly decent. War of the People who are Fighting for the Planet that the Apes live on Angrily is probably here more for contractual reasons than anything else, but again the previous ones were good so maybe the film with a monkey on a horse with a machine gun won’t be totally stupid.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle will have as much cocky British charm as the first but will just end up retreading all the same steps as the previous one, so much so that the Wiki for this unreleased film seems to give away an unsurprising plot spoiler (click here if you want to read it, you daring scoundrel). Meanwhile, I have no idea what John Wick 2 is going to be doing in order to top the brilliant original, which covered almost every action set piece and plot point it could without derailing into insane gibberish. Probably some Face-Off level jiggery-pokery involving doves and exploding windmills or something.

Oh there’s also a Star Wars film or something. It’ll be fine.

Rating – Having to attend your distant cousin’s wedding despite only talking to her once at a drunken New Year’s Eve party when you fell in a pond and your pants fell off so now it’s a bit awkward and you’d really rather not be here at all but it is a nice wedding and there’s cake and bonbons but your Aunt Marge has had too much wine again and this analogy’s getting away from me somewhat / 10



The Emoji Movie can fuck off forever.

Rating – Fuck off forever / 10



Join me next year for when I bitch about how movies are all the same and Hollywood should stop making sequels for absolutely everything. It’ll be great.

I’m sensing a pattern here.


Ghost In The Shell – A Movie Review

Ghost In The Shell has an awful lot more nipple in it than I was expecting. I understand why a cyborg with an invisibility cloak for skin might want to be naked for practical reasons, since you’d get just an unnervingly unhelpful floating clothes effect a la Hawley Griffin. That said, the fact that the only one with this skin is a sexy female future-ninja does raise a few brows. At least she doesn’t seem to care. I guess that’ll do.


She should probably get some shells to put her ghosts in. That was a bra joke.

It’s also a lot more preachy than I was expecting; there’s a lot of pondering over what life is and how technology affects what it means to be human, which is all well and good apart from when it takes up about half the running time of the film.  Some of the philosophical speeches are so damn long you start to phase out and stare mindlessly at the screen, lost in the usual two frames of animation that makes it impossible to lip read and even harder to understand. It would be easier to know what’s happening if characters had facial muscles, or exposition wasn’t all somebody shouting the entire plot to the one guy in the room who doesn’t know because he was late/not there/stupid.


Maybe she’d be a better shot if she hadn’t riveted an iron girder to her forehead.

Okay, let’s back up a bit; Ghost In The Shell is a neo-future science fiction film that sits somewhere between Minority Report, Blade Runner and Cowboy Bebop as a hugely influential and slightly prophetic 82 minutes of film. Hackers and programmers are treated as terrorists in the making and human identity is questionable at best in the huge swathes of data available. It is certainly the most adult thing I’ve covered thus far, but not in the gore and swears kind of way that Hellsing Ultimate was; it’s properly mature in its direction, themes, dialogue and almost everything else. The fact nobody ever acknowledges that there’s a naked lady with an SMG running all over the place says as much, and ignoring the random head explosion in the intro the violence never nears excessive. Given that it’s a sci-fi anime with cyborgs and spider tanks, there’s surprisingly little action, especially next to the Matrix trilogy which ripped off almost everything and made it infinitely worse. Apart from the dumper truck exposition, they kept that the same.


Lt. Surge looked down angrily at his rapidly emptying beer can, a constant reminder that he’d replaced his eyeballs with bottle caps after just one night in Amsterdam. He would never forget that night. Never.

What there is, however, is brilliant presentation. The animation and art style still holds up today if you ignore the incredible 90s mullets, and the soundtrack is one of the absolute best around. It’s toned back and subtle in all the right ways. The track over the opening credits is one of the most brilliantly haunting scene-setters I’ve come across, a mix of Bulgarian harmonies and slow booming drums which becomes a motif throughout the movie, and the sombre theme fits the overall tone. Occasionally it can get a bit too arty and pretentious for its own good, like the five minute interlude of nothing but a camera panning over a rainy impoverished future city overlaid with floaty choral sounds. It does nothing for the pacing and comes off as overindulgent world building at best and padding at worst, but generally the film manages the serious maturity it so desperately strives for.


Dr. Wily was disappointed that everyone had turned up to his Fancy Dress Picnic in the same outfit.

It’s more of a literary art piece than a film, and asks some infuriatingly general open ended questions about what life is and what we should class artificial intelligence as, which translates to vast amounts of symbolism to go along with the technobabbly philosophy lectures. This can get a bit over the top at times, such as when a man in an overpowered tank destroys a fossil and shoots straight up a carving of the tree of life. I’m not even sure what exactly that has to do with the point of the film, it’s just there as a general metaphor for humans and life and consciousness or whatever. There’s also a hint at one point that there might be multiple versions of the main character, but I’m pretty sure that was unhelpful arty editing rather than unhelpful arty writing.


Look! A literary device!

The plot itself is super simple, almost to a fault, and the aforementioned 82 minute running time feels incredibly short. The universe is so dense and ripe with potential it’s no wonder they made a full anime series based on it, even if it’s another completely different story. The slightly open ended finale is certainly fitting and artistic, whatever that means, but feels undercooked. I was expecting a third act to kick in where the story really gets going, but instead we have a ten minute discussion between a man dressed as a pink puff pastry and a Victorian toddler before a derpy ending line and credits. It just kind of ends, like far too many episodes in long format shows do. It might be the style, but it’s a rubbish style.


The cold, dead eyes of a killer. Or a child, you can never tell.

I didn’t know what to expect when I went in to Ghost In The Shell and I don’t really know what to think afterwards. It’s certainly different to a lot of what I’ve seen before, and I liked a lot of it for it’s genuine intrigue and suspense, but it is unfortunately both defined and hamstrung by its dialogue. For better or worse it wouldn’t be the same without the pondering existentialism rattled off by every character, the scattergun of motherboards and drug abuse that is the exposition and the post-it note of an ending. The world is brilliant, the animation is stellar and the soundtrack is out of this world, but there should simply be less talking and more doing. You can’t build a house by engaging it in interesting philosophical discussion, and you can’t have a sci-fi film without far too much stupid mindless action. It’s the law or something.


Now have fun working out which bits of this review were sarcastic.