“What’s a virtual experience mean then?”

After watching the live-action film it was based on, I went back and finally watched all of the 1995 Japanese animated movie “Ghost in the Shell.” Both movies follow similar stories, but it’s interesting to see where they diverged.

The identity and motivations of the hacker known as the Puppetmaster is different in the anime, and some of the Major’s decisions in interacting with him are not completely explained.

The Major’s back-story is also less fleshed out. There are still the same musings on what makes a person “human” and she questions her humanity and if the memories she has are real or just implanted. Some of the dialogue around these questions become heavy-handed exposition, but it was nice to see them asked. I would have preferred both films to have delved into those themes more, but the stories at least offer some interesting questions to mull over.

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“They did not save your life. They stole it.”

The live-action film adaptation of the anime movie “Ghost in the Shell” is a visual masterpiece with images that capture and echo the style and visions of the original. I have only seen pieces of the animated movie and television series, but there were many shots and scenes that echoed with the heartbeats of that world and struck vivid chords with my memories of the source material.

The movie deserves credit for capturing the style and feel of the original, but it isn’t perfect. There are complaints of white-washing the cast, and while not a total detractor, it does take away something from the film. Scarlett Johansson portrays Major Killian perfectly, and it’s it is possible to argue that given the stylistic portrayal of anime characters, they could map to Eastern or Western actors. While it was good to see a multi-ethnic supporting cast, it would’ve been nice to see more Asian actors playing major roles.

Major’s boss, the head of Section 9, is the only character who speaks Japanese, and other than some bits of decoration in set pieces, the city felt more European or American than an Asian setting. It would’ve been nice to have a setting which felt more unique to the source material, and for all the diversity of the Section 9 team, all of the scientists and administrators at Hanka Robotics were uniformly white.

Those critiques aside, while the futuristic city does not have any defined place, the design and mood of it was entertaining. Neon signs light the night and the buildings and cityscape are plastered with gigantic animated holographic advertising, electronic images constantly vying for attention. That conjured up the mood of the source material and it was a delight to watch. The design and aesthetics of the robots and human-upgrades technology felt spot on as well.

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“Delos is the vacation of a lifetime.”

I’ve been delayed on this project. I’ve been making notes on various movies, but hadn’t had a chance to get something fully fleshed out for awhile.

After finishing watching the HBO series “Westworld” I revisited the source material with the 1973 original film and its 1976 sequel “Futureworld.” The first movie is about the dangers of a technological world we don’t not fully understand, and the sequel is about the dangers of a corporation protecting its own interests. The first film was written and directed by Michael Crichton, who has written many technological thrillers, including “The Andromeda Strain” and “Jurassic Park.” The HBO series takes ideas from both movies and also works on the fallibilities of people as well.

The HBO series exists in a different world than the movies. There was an event which occurred near the park’s opening which is slowly revealed, but it is different than the disaster which happened in the “Westworld” movie. The DNA of both films is clearly visible in the series though and you can see where the HBO series picked up ideas from the films. The original robots in “Westworld” were eventually replaced with organic replicants in “Futureworld” and the series shows that progression of technology as well. There are a few fun references to the original films in the series. Astute viewers will notice a sly reference to Yul Brynner’s Gunslinger character hiding out in a background shot when Bernard visits an old section of the underground complex.

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Dystoporama Review: Judge Dredd   January 31st, 2017

“I am the law!”

Many of the reviews in this series will be returning to old favorites, but for this film it was my first time viewing it. I had avoided the 1995 film”Judge Dredd” because of the reputation for how phenomenally bad it was. On viewing the movie, I was expecting the worst, which may have actually helped make it a bit more enjoyable. The film is certainly not good, but it’s not abysmal either. It resides in the wide “so bad it’s good” range, to be appreciated by fans of schlock cinema. However, the movie should certainly come with a two-drink minimum to help improve the viewing experience.

“Judge Dredd” is based on a series of British comic books. The title crawl at the start of the movie informs the viewer that due to a series of environmental and social collapses, the outside world has become inhospitable to human life and the vast wasteland is known as the “cursed earth.” The remaining surviving population has been collected together and housed in giant mega cities, where crowding and limited resources has led to increased lawlessness. To combat the growing street violence, the legal system was reformed, giving Judges the combined power of police, judge, jury and executioner. Street judges patrol the city and dispatch swift justice. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dystopia Review: Me and the Big Guy   January 25th, 2017

I’ve been thinking of 1984, which I need to watch and review soon. In the meantime, I remembered this short film I saw years ago and was happy to find it on YouTube.

“Me and the Big Guy” is a wonderfully clever satire on George Orwell’s dystopian world, where a clueless worker drone takes the title of Big Brother a little too literally. Brilliant work!

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