Here’s some context for Ghost in the Shell. It’s based off the classic anime film in 1995 with the same name. It’s a landmark anime classic that became cyberpunk stable. The deep philosophical themes elevated it past a cartoon and into one of the most beloved sci-fi animated films ever made. I recently watched it for the first time several weeks ago to prepare for this movie. I can say that I became a fan and watched the second movie and a few episodes of Stand Alone Complex, the TV anime series. So how does Hollywood’s adaptation compare to one of the most important anime ever made?
- Let’s first address the elephant in the room concerning this movie. It’s been given a lot of backlash from fans of the anime for its controversial casting of Scarlet Johansson as The Major, a Japanese character being played by a white actor. I can understand why many people are upset by this. It follows a trend in Hollywood movies that white actors are needed to promote a film and casting minorities into major roles is financial suicide. Even though there are several examples where this isn’t the case, it has been an issue in American films since forever. If you are a fan planning on boycotting this movie because of the casting, I will ask you to reconsider. Without getting into spoilers, this is actually addressed in the film and I personally think they handled it brilliantly. I really want to watch this movie again with some Asian friends of mine and have a discussion about how this film dealt with the white-washing and get their opinions on it. I plan on writing about this further in detail with spoilers included next week when I get to have this discussion. I don’t wish to have this get political but our mission here at GMF is to promote inclusiveness across the spectrum of Geek culture. I think racial inclusivity is very much a part of that. I think this discussion will be both interesting and important. So yes I recommend seeing this movie so you can prepare for that discussion as well.
- That said, I think Scarlett Johansson’s performance of the Major was very well done. She had the confidence in her abilities and intellect that made her a badass. At the same time she showed the lack of confidence in her humanity that drove her to get answers about her identity and purpose in life. Both features that are shown in the anime.
- The main reason why I went to see this movie is because of the production design and it does not disappoint. This is the anime in live action, the sets are both beautiful and disturbing as any good cyberpunk should be where ads are littered everywhere but sitting behind the flashy holograms is a society that is dirty.
- The supporting cast I believe were all true to the characters in the original anime as well espeically Batou and Aramaki (The Chief). Aramaki by the way is played by Japanese actor Takeshi Kitano, speaks japanese throughout the whole movie and like the anime, is a badass that doesn’t take crap from anyone. I loved that character and how he was played in this.
- The pacing on this movie was good, I was engaged throughout the whole movie.
- This movie had a few things that didn’t make sense like why they designed an interrogation collar that made it possible to bring one’s own neck. Then there was a character action or something that didn’t make sense that I can’t remember. But overall its pretty nit-picky things.
Awkward Walk-In Meter: 3/5
While the nudity was turned down considerably from the original to get the PG-13 rating, there are still plenty of spots where there is synthetic skin showing. Granted having an android body doesn’t include nipples, so it didn’t really count I guess? The cloaking suit The Major wears is skin tight but is covered. Overall it is actually tastefully done though. The violence is a bit harder than your typical PG-13 superhero movie but the blood which was in the trailer was cut out of the film. I would be interested to see if they release an R or Unrated Version down the line.
The worst thing this movie could have been is boring, predictable and untrue to the source material. Fortunately none of these things are the case. As you can tell I actually loved this movie. I can’t say that it’s better than the original but it succeeded as an adaptation. I think a lot of critics are seeing this movie as a remake which is unfortunate. The philosophical themes of this movie on identity are different and unique to this version (which I will write about next week). So it doesn’t seek to imitate or replace the original but be its own unique version of the setting and characters of the beloved anime with an international lens. If you go into this movie with that mind set you will probably enjoy it. Again, if you are a fan that is boycotting for the whitewashing, do reconsider and check it out. You may be surprised with how smart this Hollywood blockbuster actually is.
Better late than never? It’s been a busy weekend for all of us and we were finally able to get around to seeing Power Rangers. As a disclaimer, everyone here at Geek Mind Fusion were at the right age for the power rangers craze during the 90’s. So we naturally loved the show as kids, but how does the movie hold up? It is good, bad or are we blinded by nostalgia?
- The bulk of the movie is about the kids becoming the power rangers. Normally I would rail on it by being filled with tropes and recycled story elements from movies like The Avengers and even The Breakfast Club. But for some reason it worked for me. Others I talked to about the movie felt that the first two acts were superior to the final act. Which you wouldn’t think is the case as the final act has all the action in it. But when your mom is able to remember the character’s names after the movie, you know you did the characterization right in this movie. Not at all what I was expecting from this movie.
- This isn’t saying much but this is definitely the best power rangers movie made yet.
- Suplexes and slapping.
- I liked how character development was the main focus of most of the movie. I had recently gone back and watched the first episode of the 1993 tv series and the story elements, and characters, were highly laking. I liked how we met these characters and got to the point where we were invested in them.
- The production value was pretty good especially when compared to the 1993 series and even the newer 2016 version. The suits and zords looked far more realistic than the toys they used for the tv series. The fighting at the end was so much better choreographed and there was more tension and peril.
- While I was oddly engaged with the character development during the first and second act, the third act was fun but I think only for nostalgia. The tonal shift between the ending and the rest of the movie can be jarring. It’s like watching The Breakfast Club then having it turn into a Transformers movie during the last 30 minutes. While the ending is campy and true to the original show, the action is kinda boring except for the two moves listed in my number three likes. I found myself laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, but I can’t stop and think of other movies that did the same thing better. The ending was just stopping the bad guy from getting the McGuffin at the product placement by using the power of teamwork and friendship. The Avengers did this better, and Pacific Rim had far-superior giant robot fights.
- (Spoilers) Krispy Kreme is the center of all life on Earth (this is figuratively true in this movie).
- Rita. Her premise at the beginning of the movie was ok but she, overall was off. She was too much of a wild beast in the beginning and was fairly unpalatable.
- The bully who picked on Billy. I have had my share of bullies in the past but this guy was way to over the edge. I did enjoy what happened to him in the process of picking on Billy though.
Awkward Walk-In Meter: 2/5
Most of the movie is your standard-fare superhero movie stuff, with bloodless action and peril. However there are a few off-hand jokes involving masturbation and jerking off a bull. It’ll probably go over the kids’ heads, but for those of us who get it, it’ll come off as juvenile.
I went in expecting this movie to be terrible, with them trying to force in a serious and grounded origin to the campy power rangers. But that ended up being the best part of the movie. The action itself is boring and cliche. I can’t say that I loved or hated this movie, there were both good and bad found in this movie. I guess if you grew up on Power Rangers I would recommend it. I just found it strange that I came to watch the power rangers but I ended up staying for Jason, Billy, Zach, Kim and Trini.
I went to this movie after just watching the first episode of the 1993 tv series, which increased my appreciation of the movie. I did, however, destroy my nostalgia. I liked the movie overall, enjoyed the characters and their arcs. The production value was pretty good and had it’s funny moments. It doesn’t warrant a second theater viewing but was worth going to see at least once.
Back in November of 1991 Disney released their animated version of Beauty and the Beast which won Oscars for best original score and best original song. The very first full length animated feature film nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Nearly 25 1/2 years later Disney has brought this classic film to life in a live action version of the film. Will this movie live up to one of the most beloved movies of all time? Let’s take a look.
- The music. All of the classic songs are included and relatively unchanged but there are a few places where the beats are slightly different which adds a bit of freshness to these wonderful songs. There are also several new songs that go well with the rest of the movie.
- Emma Watson. The new Belle knocked it out of the park. She was the strong, smart, independent, warm woman that we expect Belle to be. Plus her singing voice was spot on as well. I think that Disney made the right casting choice.
- The changes. This movie is a little longer than its predecessor so there is some extra content. Some of it is taken up with the extra songs but there is also some extra story in between the musical numbers. Overall I liked most of the changes because the motives were made clear for many of the characters. Many of these scenes added a little more depth to the characters.
- I was worried that the singing would be not up to par, because big actors/actresses doesn’t guarantee good singing voices (Les Miserables anyone?) but that was not the case. Everyone had a great singing voice and the songs were equal and perhaps even better than the animated classic in some cases.
- While the story is more or less the same as the animated version, they did add some plot details that helped explain some plot holes that was there previously. While it only really bothered people who over analyzes cartoons (like me), it was nice that they did address some of plot holes from the original. Some of the additions didn’t work for me but I’ll get to it later.
- One of the most beautiful Disney films ever made. The art direction was top notch with the set design being well crafted and thought out to create the feeling of the film.
- The changes made to Maurice helped him to be a more relatable character, less nutty professor and more Geppetto. The more fleshed out relationship between him and Belle was a nice addition as well.
- The Beast was good for the most part and looked good when he moved like an animal. However, when he moves in more human ways, he seems clunky and awkward. The CG for that movement wasn’t on par with the rest of the movie. Beast also mumbled a lot of lines which was a little annoying.
- During Gaston’s song I felt like Gaston and LeFou were constantly being drowned out but the music and background singing which made it harder to understand the lyrics.
- (Kinda Spoilers) The back-story of Beast’s childhood was phoned in and didn’t really play a big enough part for it to make any big difference. It felt like they tried to explain Beast’s inner demons by simply saying, “oh its daddy issues.” It needed to either be a bigger part of the story or just removed entirely.
- The CG furniture characters were too complex in their design. While it looks more realistic the way they did it, there is a charm to the simple designs of the animated characters that was lost in this version. Their emotions didn’t come across as easily as their 2d-animated counterparts. Some might even find them more creepy than enduring.
- They didn’t give Beast a name so everyone including Belle calls him a Beast through out the whole movie. Even though Beast’s arc was proving to everyone that he wasn’t a beast. The horse even had a name (Phillip if you need to know).
Awkward Walk-In Meter: 1/5
The awkward moments are the three “Gay” moments that the Director mentioned in an interview. These moments are all harmless and most likely will be missed unless you are really looking for them. Even then they are very quick not offensive.
I really enjoyed this Beauty and the Beast. It was a great adaptation of the most beloved animated film ever. I was satisfied with it but I know that it will always suffer from being compared to the animated version. However, it is totally worth going to see in the theater and enjoying with the whole family.
I enjoyed the movie overall as well. It’s a faithful adaptation to the animated classic with some plot additions that seemed to be made for the purpose of addressing the cinema sins review of the original. However it’s hard to say if this movie really stands on its own as it’s more-or-less the same movie and story. I call to question if a live action remake was even necessary as the original still stands on its own as one of the best Disney films ever made. If your a fan of the original you probably already saw it and I’m sure you loved it. If your not a fan, I don’t know if this version would really win you over.
I also enjoyed the movie, and the wonderful production design should be nominated next year for an oscar.
This review is a bit late I’ll admit but I just saw it again for the second time and wanted to talk about it. There are a few pieces of evidence that suggest this movie takes place after and is tied to The Lego Movie, but it is mainly it’s own stand alone movie. Now we have the task of seeing how it holds up as a lego movie and also a Batman movie. Lets see how it does.
- I enjoyed the humor a lot. This, like The Lego Movie, did not take it self seriously at all. The movie sets it self up with humor right in the beginning which sets your expectations right at the start. They refer to older Batman movies throughout and also reference many other pop culture figures. Plus the more you know about the various other characters in the movie the more funny references there are to catch.
- This is a great family movie. I love that my kids can come with me to this movie, laugh and have a enjoyable time, and I do the exact same thing. This movie was made well enough that while it is a kids movie there was still plenty to entertain me as well.
- It is neat how they are able to keep the world fairly true to how legos work. Aside from the characters who have some more freedom in their arms, every thing else works how legos would work. Certain things that would be a lot more dramatic in real life are less dramatic because the legos just click together.
- My only real complaint is that the story is fairly predictable. I guessed the overall plot well ahead of time, I was not surprised by the twists, and foresaw the character arcs a very short time into the movie. Though considering this is a kids movie this is more forgivable.
Awkward Walk-In Meter: 1/5
This is a kids movie. There is really nothing to worry about unless you have an older person walk in that never played with Legos. Then it is a little awkward just due to having to explain what legos are.
I really enjoyed this movie because I went in to with the expectation to laugh and have fun. This is not a serious movie so it shouldn’t be looked at through serious lens. Batman is a different style than others which makes him interesting, unique, and great to watch. This is a movie to go to with your family and have a fun time together. Bring the kids in your life and have a good time.
March is a heavy month for movies, so expect reviews weekly. It’ll die down in April as there isn’t much in the way of movies. So while we tend to focus on geeky movies on this site, it is very appropriate to have King Kong here. The original King Kong was a hallmark film that inspired countless filmmakers including Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg. You have Kong to thank for the movies such as Lord of the Rings and Jurassic Park. So how does this film hold up?
- If you want a movie to turn the brain off to and let it entertain you, this movie will fit the bill. It’s a popcorn movie that will keep you entertained and excited for 2 hours. The action is exciting and at times, gloriously over-the-top. I was laughing during many off the action scenes just because of the utter shock of what I was watching. If you don’t take the movie seriously you’ll find yourself having fun.
- Samuel L. Jackson ironically was one of the most nuanced and deep characters in the movie (not hard in this movie but we’ll get to that in a moment). Playing a war hero from Vietnam who’s so devoted to military life works well for him. There were some interesting pieces of dialogue that were kinda easy to miss but where his motivation was revealed. I understood why he was doing what he was doing.
- The CG was good in this film, where if you like to see spectacle you will get it. I don’t think the art direction was on par with Jackson’s King Kong, but it was still very gorgeous to watch on IMAX 3D.
- Movie is at a comfortable 2 hour length, not 3 hours like the Jackson version.
- Japanese Katana because why not?
- I agree with Luke in that it is a great popcorn movie to just relax and enjoy. It can make you feel compassion for several of the characters but it doesn’t send you into a rage or sob fest.
- I like the way they conveyed that Kong wasn’t just a wild mindless beast but had intelligence and feelings. He wasn’t as flushed out Peter Jackson’s King Kong but they did at least begin to show that he was a bit of a character instead of an unfeeling force of nature.
- Tom Hiddleston was fun to watch. This role is a bit different than his role as Loki from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it was enjoyable to see some of his diversity. His character was not as flushed out as I would have like but overall was good in this movie.
- Again going to have to agree with Luke. Japanese Katana. It had some amazing scenes.
- As it is with all popcorn movies, this movie excels at what it’s made to do but leaves some shortcomings in some story elements. The biggest one being the characters. All but two don’t feel like characters but rather stereotypes made to serve as plot elements. No one is really the driving force for the plot, but rather vice versa, where the plot is dictating what the characters do. There’s only really two characters that I liked, first was Samuel L Jackson who I mentioned in my likes and John Reilly’s character. Who I’ll talk about in detail later.
- There was a lot of exposition made in the movie that was clearly made for a future movie in mind. Because few of it really paid off in the movie we were actually seeing. I try to keep this reviews spoiler-free so I won’t mention any specific things.
- Kong didn’t feel like a character as much as Jackson portrays in his film. Granted this movie is considerably shorter, there aren’t many scenes that Kong can come off as more than a force of nature. There were scenes where they tried but still feels a bit flat.
- This one might need explaining. So the current climate of film economics has moved to an international market. By this I mean China is now one of the biggest consumers of films in the world. Hollywood being a business, wants in on the Chinese market. China has strict guidelines and limitations toward its imports including movies. To get around this, Hollywood co-produces with Chinese Film Production companies. On top of this, they add Chinese characters (who are big Chinese stars) to appeal to the Chinese market. This isn’t a big deal but it isn’t handled well in this film. The obligated Chinese character in this film does nothing. It doesn’t make sense for her to be in this movie other than to be one of the scientists (which you could easily combine two of them and nothing would change). If you have to put her in, at least make her do something! I’d be interested to know if she plays a much bigger role in an edited version of the film played in China.
- There were a few character arcs that were not my favorite. Like Luke mentioned, Samuel L. Jackson’s acting was great and he was one of the best developed characters, however I didn’t care for where he ended up at the end of the movie. John Goodman’s character was another one of those arcs that easily could have been so much better.
- I like to take my kids to as my movies with me as I can but from a father’s perspective this movie is not one I would take my kids to. There are a lot of jump scare and enough frightening images that I wouldn’t feel comfortable bringing my kids who are both under 8 to this movie.
Like and Dislike:
- John Reilly is really the only one that shows much emotion or has a sympathetic reasoning behind his actions. I like this character but he is absent for nearly a third of the movie. Telling his story about living on the island for over 20 years would have made a more interesting movie than the one we saw.
- I second that.
Awkward Walk-In Meter: 1/5
Near the beginning there’s a short scene inside a brothel/bar but nothing is explicatively shown. The rest is harmless enough, it’s your typical action violence from a PG-13 rating. Oh and there’s one F-Bomb, and it’s oddly not from Samuel L. Jackson.
On top of what Luke mentioned I’d say the violence is a little more than say your average Marvel movie. The violence is mainly creature violence and because of that there was more blood and some visible lose of limb and one impaling.
It’s no surprise that this is a typical action blockbuster. No one is going into this movie to watch a character-driven drama (go watch Logan if you want that). So if you want a popcorn movie, then that is what you will get, it is an entertaining 2 hour adventure. Granted there have been blockbusters that are not only fun but have good characters too. So it is a bit disappointing for Hollywood to easily abandon character and plot for action and spectacle when you can have both. One such movie was actually Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Which by the way is superior in every way, except for the length. It isn’t a bad-bad movie though, but I guess a good-bad movie, where if you don’t take it seriously, you will have fun.
Like we have mentioned above it is a great popcorn movie and is a lot of fun to watch. The plot isn’t complex and the characters aren’t super deep but it is still an enjoyable watch and a great escape from everyday life. There is an extra little scene after the credits that goes into something not too well developed in the movie so it worth staying for.
Welcome to the GMF movie reviews! Here we’ll go and do some reviews for the geeky movies to come out during the year. Since we’re not registered film critics, we won’t be able to go to pre-screenings and get these reviews out the day it’s released. So you may have a wait a few days or so since we’re watching the movies the same time you are. So we’re going to try and do reviews a bit differently than others may do it. It’ll be in a list form for the likes and dislikes, sometimes it’ll be me solo and sometimes the others will chime in. Lastly I would like to make a meter for “awkward walk-ins moments.” What I mean by that is the moments when your S.O., parent, kids, grandma, etc walks into a movie at the most awkward time. Not only for inappropriate content but also for just other bizarre stuff you may find in a movie. I think some people might find that useful when planning to see a movie. So let’s get into the review of Logan!
- A very emotionally charged movie. It’s rare for a movie like this to be as engaging on an emotional level like this. It’s a similar feeling after watching a deep character-driven drama (makes sense after figuring out that the director also made the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line). While this isn’t what you want for all movies, this was a breath of fresh air for the superhero genre. The Dark Knight was one of the only superhero movies that had a ending that was both inspirational and a bit depressing like Logan did. Coming to watch a typical X-men movie? This is not what you’re looking for.
- The acting was fantastic. Hugh Jackman truly nails the character of Wolverine in this movie. The creative freedom they had in this movie allowed Jackman to go to places emotionally that he wasn’t able to before. Patrick Stewart also does a great performance as Professor Xavier, which was very different from his other performances with the same character, but for the context of the story it made sense. You see them both given it their all for this movie.
- I could feel that the filmmakers and actors actually cared about making the best movie they could. I already mentioned the acting but even the director James Mangold had some energy put into the movie that was absent in The Wolverine. This maybe because Mangold had a lot more creative freedom than in The Wolverine which was an ok movie at best.
- While both previous Wolverine films had some major pacing issues, the pacing in this movie is spot on. It’ll give you breathing room when you need it. Then will crack up afterwards and keep your attention throughout the whole movie.
- Grounded superhero movie done right. Other X-men films struggled tonally cutting from flashbacks of Auschwitz to melodramatic comic book slock. This is not the case for this movie. It knows it’s a serious film, and it stays serious throughout.
Dislikes (or rather what others might dislike):
- There isn’t much exposition to explain why the world is the way that it is. Some of it is explained but it isn’t spelled out for you. So some of the backstory might be hard to follow. Also it does rely a bit on you understanding the X-men world. So if you’re brand new to X-men you may want to watch the original X-men movie first.
- The violence is up to 11 on this movie. THIS MOVIE IS RATED R FOR A REASON. The claws are used and depicted realistically in this film. Don’t pull a Deadpool and take your kids to this. This movie is not for them. There are plenty of ‘F’ bombs and ‘S’ bombs here too.
- My friends that came with me were emotionally overwhelmed after seeing this movie. It isn’t a fun movie to watch. This didn’t bother me as I was happy to actually feel something after a movie for a change. However it’s not really a positive emotion. If you go in expecting an emotional and darker movie, that is what you will get.
Awkward Walk-In Meter: 4/5
While the movie lacks sexual content and suggestive costumes like the other X-Men movies, this movie is full of profanity, bloody gore and action. This is a hard R and is not for kids.
Logan is a rare film, it’s a film where the studio took a chance and let the filmmakers make the movie they wanted to make. It’s hard to tell if it’ll pay off like Deadpool did but it did expand what can be done in the superhero genre. There have been dark superhero movies before but not to the level of being considered a heavy drama like Logan was. If you grew up with the X-men movies like I did, I think you can go in and appreciate the arc that was made for Wolverine. His solo movies have been duds up until now. Not only is this by far the best Wolverine movie, but it might be one of the best X-men movies yet.
The Holiday season has come and gone and we have received our now annual Star Wars gift. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released on Friday December 16 (December 15 if you were able to catch an early screening). It is about the events that happen immediately before Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. It is a stand alone Star Wars movie that is not one of the episodes. Let’s take a look at our Likes and Dislikes.
Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert!
DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS.
- I like that you weren’t hit head with an explanation for everything. In the Prequels I felt like there was so much exposition explaining everything. In A New Hope there are many things that are just mentioned but not explained like the Kessel Run and (initially) the Clone Wars. It left a lot to imagination. Jyn’s time with Saw growing up is not explained very much, and Mon Mothma and Bail Organa reference both Obi-Wan and Leia with out actually mentioning their name, to name a few examples.
- The more I think about it the more I like how they showed the darker side of the rebellion. Cassian killing an informant just to keep him quiet, General Draven ordering Jyn’s father killed, Cassian’s confession for the Rogue One strike team. It makes the rebellion just so much more realistic and believable.
- Darth Vader. I felt like this Vader was closer to the Empire Strikes Back Vader, not taking crap from anyone and more fully using his powers. I absolutely loved the scene when he appears in the rebel ship and starts taking on the the troopers.
- The space battle over Scarif. I loved the use of the classic X-wings and Y-wings, especially the use of the ion bombs to disable the Star Destroyer. I also loved the way they showed how desperate the situation way when they used a Blockade Runner to ram the Star Destroyer down into the shield generator.
- K-2SO. He was funny, sarcastic, full of personality, and ended up having a big heart.
- Saw Gerrara. I didn’t feel Saw was a well developed character and he seemed to out there. They could have gotten around using him.
- Saw’s mind/feeling reading beast, Bor Gullet. It was made out to be this menacing thing but is was short lived. Then the side effects of “going out of your mind” were overcome by 1-2 min of conversation.
- Princess Leia. I love the fact that she was in it but I didn’t like the lingering shot on her face. They did an amazing job. I was impressed with how close they were able get her face to the original Leia but it was still in uncanny valley and it bothered me. I would have been happier if they would have just shown her from the back.
My initial feeling for this movie was “Meh it was good. Not in my Star Wars tops but definitely not the worst either”. However as I have been thinking back on the movie, seeing it the second time and playing parts of it back in my head, I have grown to like it more and more.