TL;DR – This is an ambitious return into the world of Ghost in the Shell that exceeds expectation in some areas but I am not sure the overarching story is going to work for everyone.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
There are a couple of shows that serve as a gateway into the world of anime. One of the greats is Ghost in the Shell a grand cyber-punk post-human jaunt into the future. For a lot of people, it was the movie that was their first contact, but for me, it was the Ghost in the Shell SAC. It was this, bright bold explosion, exploring religion, philosophy, what it meant to be alive. Since then I have wondered if anyone could capture that again, and the less said about that movie the better. Well, today we get a chance to see as we dive back into the world of Major Motoko Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn).
In the time since the show and movie, the world has become a very different place. The G4, that is America, China, Russia, and the European Union, moved the world into an economical system called Sustainable War, which sounds about as bad as it. This is escalated by the Global Simultaneous Default when all the world’s financial system collapsed at the same time. Since Section 9 had been disbanded, most of the team joined in on the sustainable war effort as a mercenary team called Ghost. They worked their way up from South America and at the start of the series they are travelling through the ruins of Palm Springs. They are there to stop a raid on the gated section of Los Angeles but there is more going on than they first thought. Now we will be looking at the series as a whole and as such there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
TL;DR – It’s fine, nothing amazing but not a complete mess.
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
I’ve been quite enjoying the jaunts into the world of Altered Carbon as of late. A world of switching bodies and switching cast members. A world of excesses and a world of death that is only real death half the time. I’ve watched both seasons, so when I heard there was an animated movie, well I had to give it a watch and well … it’s fine.
So after the events of the Second Season (I think, but I’m not entirely sure), we open on the planet Latimer. Here a young girl Holly (Brittany Cox/ Ayaka Asai) is running from her life through the upper streets as air cars and large holograms walk around her. She is being chased by two thugs, who are trying to catch her. Running into a club she is almost at a needle casting facility when a ninja slaughters the two thugs and turns on her. Things are bad but then Takeshi (Ray Chase/ Tatsuhisa Suzuki) arrives to save the day. Teaming up with local CTAC operator Gina (Elizabeth Maxwell/ Rina Satô) they get Holly to the safety of the Yakuza or as it turns out maybe into significantly more danger than she was before.
Now, this is an interesting film, in that we are usually a bit cagier about spoilers with films, but then it is also hard to talk about this film without getting into spoilers for both past seasons and a big reveal in this film. So with that in mind, there will be some big [SPOILERS] around character points going forward but not for the ending.
TL;DR – It continues the story gallantly, but the second outing is more restrained and does not fix the problems of the first season.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
A couple of years ago, there was this odd TV series on Netflix that I described as “if Westworld and Blade Runner had a baby with Ghost in the Shell as the midwife.” It was odd, it was out there, and even though it had some limitations it kept powering through. Well, I have finally caught up with the second season and I have to say it is more of the say, which is both good and bad.
So to set the scene, we open in a dive bar on some desolate system out in the deep black. On the stage is a singer (Jihae) singing a haunting song when a synth that had just needle cast in-system. Trepp (Simone Missick) is a bounty hunter, and a good one at that, and she is looking for one Takeshi “Tak” Kovacs. But in what sleeve is he in? Possibly only the malfunctioning AI Poe (Chris Conner) behind the bar knows? Well, Trepp buts a bullet in his back and brings him to her employer Horace Axley (Michael Shanks). All Tak has to do is protect Axley and he gets to keep this new body (Anthony Mackie). But more importantly, he knows where he can find Quellcrist “Quell” Falconer (Renée Elise Goldsberry), the person he has been searching for all these years. It’s a good bargain, right up until the moment he needle casts in and finds Axley dead on the ground, and all of Harlan’s World is out for his blood. Now we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
TL;DR – Visually stunning, and a wonderful follow up to a true Sci-fi classic.
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
Besides Star Wars later in the year, I don’t think there has been a film as anticipated in the sci-fi world more than Blade Runner 2049. As I mentioned in my retrospective of Blade Runner (see retrospective) the first time I watched the original was just the other day so I came into 2049 with that whole story being very fresh in my mind. Which turns out was a good thing, because Blade Runner 2049 is not just a sequel in name only. So without getting into spoilers here, you may want to go watch the first film in preparation of seeing it here, not that you should need an excuse to see one of the most transformative science fiction films of the last century. I do have to say from the start that I went see Blade Runner 2049 at a premium showing (Gold Class for those in Australia) which I paid for, and I went during the middle of the day when there is usually fewer people. However, still with all this, I was in a session with a couple that loud talked throughout the film, in the quiet contemplative moments, and even answered an unmuted phone at some point. So while I am professional, I can’t put aside the possibility that this might have impacted my perception of the film. Now overall I really liked Blade Runner 2049 but it is hard to talk about it without hitting spoilers, hell even the cast list is a spoiler at this point. So just for the sake of precautions be prepared for [SPOILERS] ahead if you have not seen the film, which you should.
TL;DR – The legacy of Blade Runner is not overstated, even if parts of the film have not aged well.
I continue my look into the gems of films from the past that I missed the first time round by today looking at the most topical of films Blade Runner. Like 2001: A Space Odyssey (see review), Blade Runner is one of those films that came out before I was born, so I missed it the first time around, and due to its content it didn’t get a lot replay on TV as I was growing up. Now while I haven’t seen the film before today, I have read the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? As well as this, Blade Runner has appeared in so many countdown and best of lists, and multiple parodies and had homages have been made of it over the years. So even though I have never see the film, I have seen so many separate bits that I have probably seen a decent chunk of the film over the years. So with all of this I was a bit apprehensive before sitting down and watching it, would it live up to the huge cultural impact it has had, well could anything really, let’s find out. Now before we go on just a moment of clarification, the version I saw was The Final Cut, which as far as I can tell is the cut that Ridley Scott prefers, so there is likely to be differences between this and the theatrical release.
TL;DR – This is a difficult film to review as it excels in so many different ways, the music, visuals, and it really nails the aesthetics, but something is missing and it just felt more ‘safe’ than anything else.
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
So it’s the future and the world has moved towards merging the biological and the machine with people adapting themselves with cybernetic implants. However, this is only augmentation, but now the supposed next step in human development is here, with a human brain inserted into a robot body, a ghost within the shell. Is this the next stage in human existence or simply a weapon being released into the world, a saviour or a curse? This is the set up for Ghost in the Shell a movie adaption of the original manga series of the same name. Well it has been a rocky launch for Ghost in the Shell, and we’ll get to that issue in a moment, but first I need to take a moment to explain my relationship with Ghost in the Shell before talking about its positives, and then we’ll get into what didn’t work.