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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Power Rangers’ Mighty Morph to the Big Screen

Saban’s Power Rangers recently opened on the big screen, and I caught a matinee showing. I grew up on the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, during the golden age of Saturday morning cartoons and TV. I’m talking “get up early because the new episode is on” original, and saw the original 1995 movie in theaters (I think).

This movie came out at a time where I’m fairly hyped for original MMPR. I recently completed my set of ab-crunch addicted MMPR Legacy figures.

I also own the Green and White Rangers, but they’re too busy checking themselves out

I also have a growing collection of Fisher-Price Imaginext figures that I share with my four-year-old son. He and I have recently started watching the original episodes on Netflix, which has put me in a fresh mindset to evaluate some of the differences and similarities between the new movie and the classic show.

Now, to be completely transparent here, I had very low expectations for this film going in. As an avid toy collector, I often find a strong correlation between the quality of a movie’s tie-in merchandise and the movie itself. The movie toys are awful, look as if they’re made of cheap plastic you’d find in a kid’s sand pail, and are priced too high. Between the merchandise, the Zord designs, and some lackluster trailers, I set my bar low and considered waiting for the rental instead of paying for a movie ticket.

I’m glad I didn’t wait.

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Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice : Exploring the Questions of Good vs. Evil

So a little while ago I got over my hesitation about reading a book about vampires and read Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice. It was worth it! The book swept me off my feet with it’s deep questions about what makes us good, what drives us and how do we live when we have lost our faith. I say faith but I don’t just mean faith in a religion or a god/s as the book tackles so many different kinds of faith. Faith in people, ourselves, freewill, society, morals, law, god and religion and I am sure that I am still missing a few! But for the purpose of ease of writing I will just say faith.

When I first started I thought I was going into a possible drama, star crossed love, action novel. Little did I know that it was less about vampires and more about exploring philosophical ideas. Rice delves into the question of what makes us tick; and are those that lose faith (regardless of what they lose faith in) really just the vampires of the world? Always taking, but having nothing to give in return?

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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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