Ghost in the Shell – A (mostly) Spoiler-Free Review

Ghost in the Shell is widely considered one of the most important franchises in the history of anime/manga. The 1995 feature-length movie, in particular, was wildly successful, and influenced a number of filmmakers in the science fiction genre. When Dreamworks Pictures decided to bring a live-action adaptation to the big screen, they had some big shoes to fill. Unfortunately, while the movie gets a lot of things right, the live-action film doesn’t live up to it’s predecessor’s reputation as a groundbreaking, instant-classic movie.

Unlike most of the films I review on this blog, Ghost in the Shell is a bit outside my wheelhouse. I am, at best, a casual anime/manga fan — I’ve seen the 1995 film and I’ve read a couple of the manga, but I’m by no means an expert on the franchise. As such, I didn’t walk into this movie as a super-fan, hoping to see well-known characters and plots brought to life. Rather, I went in with somewhat fresh eyes, wanting a movie that captured the tone and feel of the original while telling a compelling story. And while the movie did an excellent job at reproducing the atmosphere of a Japanese anime, the story itself didn’t quite click for me. Too much of the movie felt dated and derivative (which is unfortunate, as we’ll see later), and that just detracted too much from the movie for my liking.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie for what it was. It wasn’t bad, or boring, or confusing, or any of the things that make me hate a movie. I’m glad I got to see it, and I don’t feel like I wasted my time or money (though, don’t bother with 3-D). If the movie hadn’t been called Ghost in the Shell, I think it would have fared much better without the reputation to live up to. I’d rate it a middle-of-the-road 6/10, worth seeing if you’re a fan of the genre, or just want to watch a sci-fi movie that’s a bit different from the typical blockbuster fare. If you want to know more, keep reading…

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Logan – A (mostly) Spoiler-Free Review

The latest film in the X-Men Cinematic Universe, Logan, is a major departure from the genre of movies we usually associate with mutant superheros. Indeed, it’s not a superhero movie at all — and in many ways, that’s why its one of the best superhero movies yet. The film focuses on one single character, on a journey of discovery; and no matter how predictable the ending, by the time we get there, the emotional investment is so powerful that you feel it anyway.

In this review, I won’t spoil the ending, and will keep the spoilers to an minimum. If you’ve never seen another X-Men movie, though, expect those to be spoiled at will. (I’m looking square at you, Age of Apocalypse). And, since the question has come up more than once: no, you don’t need to watch any previous movies to enjoy Logan, but you will probably enjoy it more if you’ve invested in the characters already; that means watching at least X-Men, The WolverineDays of Future Past, and Age of Apocalypse (mostly for the ending) first.

Overall, I give this movie a 9/10; to see why, and why you really want to see it for yourself, keep reading. (Also, in case you didn’t know, the movie is rated R — there’s tons of violence and tons of swearing. No kids, please).

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Legion Pilot – A (Mostly) Spoiler-Free Review

The newest addition to the ever-growing series of television shows based on Marvel properties arrived last week, with the FX show Legion.

Legion

The show, co-produced by Marvel and Fox, is the first live-action adaptation of Fox’s X-Men and mutant roster. (At the moment, it’s unclear if the show is going to tie into the X-Men Cinematic Universe or not.) The show follows the life of lead character David Haller, based of the Marvel character of the same name, who’s comic alias also gives the show its name. At the start of the show, David is a middle-aged man who has been diagnosed with  a severe case of schizophrenia from a young age — he constantly hears voices and sees things that don’t exist. David is currently being housed in a long-term mental health facility, where he meets the show’s lead female protagonist, a mysterious young woman named Sydney with a severe phobia of physical contact.

As the show progresses, David begins to form a relationship with Sydney, who largely rebels against the hospital’s treatments. Things go awry, however, when Sydney is set to be released, setting off a chain of events that leads David to start to believe what we, the viewer, probably already knew: that he’s not crazy, but he (and Sydney) seem to have super powers.

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Assassin’s Creed – A (mostly) spoiler-free review

It has become more than a cliche — almost a tautology — that movies based on video games are never good. The latest attempt, Assassin’s Creed, makes a strong effort to disprove that claim… but ultimately fails. Judged against others of its ilk, Assassin’s Creed is among the better video game movies, an eminently watchable two hours of simple fun. Unfortunately, it misses the mark on two of it’s most crucial audiences: die-hard fans of the game will complain about all the things wrong with the story, and (in a year that gave us Captain America: Civil War and Star Wars: Rogue One and Deadpool), the science fiction movie fan will probably find it falling to the bottom of their list.

Overall, I would give this movie a fairly mediocre 5/10 (its better than it’s RT score would indicate, but not much), and probably recommend you wait for RedBox. I saw the movie in 3-D in the theater, and there wasn’t much in it to justify the added cost. (If anything, seeing it in a theater may ruin the fun, as we’ll see later).

Here is a mostly spoiler-free review of the movie; though, fair warning: if you have never played an Assassin’s Creed game, those will be spoiled heavily here. To see where this movie did well, and where it floundered, read on…

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