Ghost In The Shell: Is Scarlett Johansson A Believable Action Star?

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The popular anime series of the same name is brought to life with Major, played by Scarlett Johansson, a part human part cyborg investigating her past.

I understand many people didn’t like this film because they perceived it as whitewashing the source material and I respect that, however for the purpose of this review I aim to look beyond that.

I actually enjoyed this film when I saw it in cinemas and then when I rewatched it again recently. I thought Johansson was good in the role and brought a lot to it, she was good in both the action set pieces as well as the more emotional and philosophical scenes. Her performance can’t be faulted.

Furthermore, I thought the world of the film was dripping with potential for interesting storytelling. Honestly, I think if this film had been better received we would have gotten numerous spin offs and sequels which would have given us a better look into the world which could have been really interesting, alas such a thing was not meant to be.

My main issue with the film was that it tried to do too much. It crammed a lot of story in a relatively short runtime and as such a lot came off as underdeveloped or even confusing. Even upon rewatching it there are still moments in the films narrative that don’t make any sense to me at all.

Furthermore, Michael Pitt as the film’s villain was deeply miscast.

Overall, a film that is better than a lot make it out to be, but one that still has some major issues.

Pros.

Johannsson

The world

The visual style and the composition

Cons.

Michael Pitt

It needed further expanding   

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The Book Of Boba Fett: The Streets Of Mos Espa

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Boba Fett, played by Temuera Morrison, hangs out with some poorly designed cosplayers, gets beat up whilst in his underwear and the Pikes invade.

My, my just when I thought the series was heading in the right direction we get this.

So the Tusken Raider plot line ends very abruptly and with no real closure…. What was the point of building it up so much over the last few episodes if you were just going to have them massacred off screen? I suppose it is leading to some kind of showdown between Boba and their killers but honestly it just feels like it took a moment that could have been really emotionally important for the show and chose to cut it out.

Moreover, everything about the new rainbow vespa gang that Boba Fett befriends this episode is embarrassing. Their design is awful, they don’t look like they fit in the universe, they don’t advance the plot, the CGI used for them isn’t up to snuff, I could go on. It just seems like these characters were forced in so Boba could have underlings and as an incredibly cynical and cheap attempt to boost the shows diversity.

I have written at length about how this show is far too family friendly and is seemingly scared to have Boba Fett actually behave like himself and fight back or even kill, he is only allowed to kill monsters by this show’s rules, and this episode proves that to a tee. Not only is Boba depowered here, we watch this master of hand to hand combat get whooped in his underpants needing to be saved by his new cyber punk friends and honestly it makes the character some what of a joke.

Don’t get me started on the emotional support rancor.

The only reason this episode isn’t getting lower is because I am interested in the Pike war to come and I like the tease of that.

Overall, this show is really starting to show its cracks.

Pros.

The Pikes both in the past and present

The tease for what is to come

Cons.

It almost character assassinates Boba Fett

It wastes the build up of the Tusken storyline

The cyberpunk cosplay biker gang

It has pacing issues and is again too short

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The Book Of Boba Fett: Tribes Of Tatooine

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Boba Fett, played by Temuera Morrison, faces challenges to his rule and plans a Tusken Raiders upgrade.

So this episode was better than episode one in that it felt properly paced and had stakes, two very basic asks I known. However, that is not to say it was a strong episode rather that it advanced the show in an uphill direction, hopefully next week can continue this.

I enjoyed Fett’s tense standoff with the Hutt Twins, I thought it was nice to see the coming conflict and the whole scene felt suitably tense, they did a good job with the effects as well here which was nice. However, I would say that the present timeline could have done with a little more, because from here the rest of the episode continues on with the Tusken flashbacks, which are fine but maybe starting to run out of steam at this point.

I also liked the feel of this episode as it felt more grimy and underworld esque, which is how the show should always have been. I still feel like Boba is pulling his punches and the lack of blood is still dampening the action sequences for me though, this needs to change in the next episode.

Overall, better but still not what you would want from a show about the Star Wars criminal underworld.

Pros.

The Hutt standoff

A nice pace

A sense of coming conflict

Cons.

The Tusken flashbacks are getting a bit much

It still feels too family friendly  

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The Book Of Boba Fett: Stranger In A Strange Land

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Temuera Morrison returns as Boba Fett, with Fett now becoming a Tatooine crime lord.

For a show supposedly about the gritty underworld of the Star Wars universe this was disappointing. I understand it is a Disney property so we were never going to get anything too hardcore, but the toned down bloodless violence really hit me here and put me off. The violence does not feel real or impressive as it is so clearly forced into a family friendly lens that it is afraid to show anything.

Furthermore, as many people have commented the pacing in this episode is not good, for two very different reasons. Firstly, not a lot happens there are some flashbacks and a few minor events here and there yet this is stretched out for just over half an hour, the pace moves so slowly it feels like they are trying to kill time. Secondly, and somewhat contradictory the episode needs to be longer, though as I say nothing really happens something could have, had the flashback sequences been given proper time to explain Fett’s backstory rather than no doubt splitting it between episodes to fill time, then this episode could have been better.

Finally and perhaps worst of all the look of some of the alien races herein look like cosplayers trying there best to win a convention competition rather than makeup effects, prosthetics and design  that properly reflect the budget of the show.

Overall, a deeply underwhelming start to the series.

Pros.

Morrison is trying

The western feel is well done

Cons.

The pacing

The alien design in live action

It is too short  

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Matrix Resurrections: Taking Everything That Worked And Flushing It Down The Toilet

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Yet another franchise is brought back from the dead only to be dissected, demystified and reinvented in a new trendy way, without seemingly understanding what made the first few and its later sequels, to a lesser extent, work.

The first ten minutes of this film gives you enough reasons to turn it off. The dialogue is terrible, this is a problem for the whole film, and seems to think it is saying something deep when actually a lot of the deeper philosophy of the series seems to have been carved out of it. Pair this with a group of new characters that look, act and feel like cosplayers doing their best to make a fan film and you are given your first red flag.

To make matters worse the whole meta idea of Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, being a games developer who made the Matrix as a game and in this world everyone knows about the events of the trilogy not as events that really happened but as sections of a popular game is just awful. In this early part of the film they make funny meta comments about how WB is forcing them to make a sequel to it, and about various elements from earlier films, this does not come across as funny or deep it comes across instead as smug, pretentious and up its own arse. They also manage to throw in a good number of left wing talking points during this early section of the film seemingly for no reason other than to be trendy and have certain parts of Twitter praise them.

Honestly the way this film recontextualises the other films it makes them borderline unwatchable, and hence forward I will pretend like this film doesn’t exist.

The only reason it has got a one is because Reeves is trying and is allowed to have some fun with the role.

Overall, please save your money.

Pros.

Reeves

Cons.

It ruins the previous films

It is too meta

The writing is awful

The new characters look and feel like cosplayers

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Mother/Android: The YA Genre Just Can’t Seem To Die

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Chloe Grace Moretz tries to break free of the YA market by making a science fiction film that feels remarkably YA. Moretz plays a young woman who must navigate an AI uprising in order to get to safety so she can give birth.

It is a shame this year has been so mixed for Moretz she started off with the underappreciated Shadow In The Cloud, and then went on to make Tom And Jerry, a sequel to the animated Addams family film and then this, further and further from grace. This film is by no means terrible, there are some interesting concepts here, however, it never does much with them. Instead it seems content on making this film a depressing melodrama with a YA dystopian setting and a front and centre romance.

Even when the film gets gritty the violence is either not shown or it is surprisingly bloodless, which I guess makes sense if you are fighting robots. However, it just makes this film feel like yet another poor YA film.

Moretz is trying her best however, she doesn’t really bring enough resonance to the part and as such the big emotional twist at the end doesn’t work as much as the film needs it to.

Overall, yet more weak science fiction.

Pros.

Some interesting ideas

It is relatively well paced  

Cons.

Moretz can’t land the emotional delivery

Surprisingly bloodless

It feels like an edgy YA film

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Encounter: The Strangest Father Son Roadtrip Ever

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Malik Khan, played by Riz Ahmed, a decorated marine must go on a daring rescue mission to save his sons from an otherworldly threat, however as the film progresses the alien threat seems to become more and more farfetched and Malik’s own traumas and fractured mental state start to become the real threat.

I thought this was easily one of the best film’s I have seen in a while. Ahmed was really good and sold both the crazed paranoia as well as the love for his sons really well, you both empathised with his character as well as felt slightly threatened by him. I thought Ahmed balanced both of these sides of his character really well and kept him complexed and nuanced.

The emotion in this film is powerful and resonant. Especially towards the end of the film when Malik starts to realise what he has done it breaks your heart, I would have liked the ending to be a bit more polysemic however, I do think there is some wiggle room for what if Malik was actually right all along.

Overall, a compelling film boosted by a magnificent performance from Riz Ahmed.

Pros.

Ahmed

The emotion

The threat

The twist

Cons.

The ending is a little too clear cut for my taste

They wasted Octavia Spencer  

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Total Recall: One You Want To Forget

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The film deals with idea around memory and supressed lives coming to the front, and no it doesn’t have any of the cheesy fun of the Arnold Schwarzenegger version.

I hadn’t seen this film since I first saw it in cinemas all those years ago, and much like the subject of this film I must have had my memories supressed as I didn’t remember it at all, then I watched it again and all of a sudden the memories came back to me and I remember why I had forgot it. This film is aggressively average.

Colin Farrell is fine here but he is not allowed to have any fun in the role at all, and the film as a whole takes itself far too seriously. The Schwarzenegger version wasn’t a comedy by any means but it was silly enough to make it an entertaining watch, whether that was deliberate or not, this film does not have that campy charm.

Honestly this film is just a hodgepodge of generic science fiction cliches and manages to do nothing even remotely interesting.

Overall, erase these memories.

Pros.

It is watchable

The visuals are reasonably sound

Cons.

Farrell is bland

It is generic

It is on for far, far too long

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After Earth: Scientologist Propaganda

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Scientology meets science fiction and produces a mess; no this isn’t Battlefield Earth.

Did this film almost lead to the death of Will Smith’s career for a few years? Honestly maybe. This film is awful for many reasons the clearest of which is the fact that this film reeks of scientologist propaganda, but luckily no one saw it so it was unsuccessful in that respect.

The plot is almost unintelligible, something about space and fear etc. It is a strange mixture of nonsense and trite cliché  leading to a bore of a film. I know that Shyamalan has always struggled with pace in his films but this might be his most egregious example to date, by the end of the film’s second act the film feels like it is over, but then no it carries on for another thirty to forty minutes.

Neither of the Smiths are at all likeable here, particularly Jaden. They neither feel like normal people nor do you care about them.

Overall, this has to be the lowest point of Shyamalan’s steep spiral downwards.

Pros   

The premise is mildly interesting before it becomes overly convoluted.

Cons.

It is Scientologist propaganda

Neither of the Smiths are likeable

It has major pacing issues

None of it makes sense

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Repeat: Don’t Talk To The Dead

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Ryan Moore,  played by Tom England, devotes his life to creating a machine that can supposedly allow a person to contact the dead. However, during his obsession his daughter goes missing and he then tries to use his machine to find her on the other side and either save her from dying or bring her back.

I think this film has a strong hook. The premise feels fresh and I can’t remember seeing other films like it, moreover, the narrative doesn’t end up where you are expecting it to, there are some twists and turns and for the most part they are quite shocking and unexpected.

The marketing I had seen for this film made me think it was a horror film, however this is untrue. I would say this film is more of a bleak, Black Mirror esque, science fiction film. With that I found it to be at times quite bleak and upsetting, though I suppose that was the point. With the notion of be careful what you wish for being central to the narrative of the film.

I thought the performances across the board were fairly strong with both England and Charlotte Ritchie doing a lot with what they were given, and turning their characters into real people that you can empathise with.

Overall, a strong science fiction film that was a little too bleak for my taste.

Pros.

The acting

The plot

The twist

Cons.

Manically bleak

A few pacing issues

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