Monday, April 03, 2017

Movie Reviews: Ghost in the Shell (2017), Beauty and the Beast (2017), Deadpool

Ghost in the Shell (2017): The graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim was 100 times better than the movie Scott Pilgrim, but I still thought that the movie Scott Pilgrim was the best movie I saw in 2010. It probably helped that I never saw the source material; I read the graphic novels after seeing the movie. the movie was so good that it made me want to read them. The movie was quixotic, quirky, energetic, fun, interesting, well-acted and paced, and entertaining. It had obvious but interesting central metaphors, about new relationships, and about dealing with the world as a video game, which made the movie a cut better than other young adult movies. So what if the comic was so much richer and deeper?

Lucky for me it has been fifteen years since I saw the original Ghost in the Shell movie and I never read the manga. I was able to enjoy this movie, starring Scarlett Johansson. I remembered some parts of the original movie, enough to know that some of the scenes in this movie are track for track copies from the original and that the original was 100 times better - richer, and deeper - than this one. But I still think this is one of the better action/sci-fi movies, ten times richer and deeper than the crud Marvel keeps foisting on us. Not quite as good as Arrival; not quite as good as Blade Runner; possibly as good as Interstellar.

First of all, it is one of the most beautiful and visually arresting movies from the last several years, an absolute treasure trove of stunning shots in a world reminiscent of Blade Runner. Acting, directing, and cinematography are top notch. There are many high-profile scenes of violence, about as many as a Marvel movie, and they are just as cool, but they aren't the only thing cool about the movie. While a Marvel movie fills the rest of the movie with snarky quips and a shallow, stupid excuse to set up the next combat sequence - and that's it - this movie wraps a cyberhacking chase plot around a search for the nature of what it means to be human. Okay, the search isn't very deep, the questions are not all answered, and the material was dumbed down from its source. Whatever. This movie's story is different from the original one, which makes this more of a reboot than a remake. At least there is something there, there. At least I have a reason to care for the characters and a reason to care about who is fighting and why. I can ask questions that the movie doesn't explore in depth, because at least these conflicts are shown. And did I mention that the visuals and acting are beautiful and cool?

As for the casting of a white person in a role that was previously played by a cartoon Asian, get a life. No one in Japan is bothered by this, and it's not like she is pretending to be an Asian; she's just a fine actress. She looks awesome. And that's that.

Beauty and the Beast (2017): Yet another Disney remake. Unlike Ghost in the Shell, this movie is really just a remake of the original classic and not a reboot. For what it's worth, this movie, starring Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, and the always wonderful Emma Watson, adds a few extra scenes to buttress Beauty's backstory. They neither add to, nor hurt, the movie, although the talk about her mother dying of plague turns the movie into a PG one.

Like the recent Cinderella and The Jungle Book, the movie doesn't seem to have any reason to exist other than to show that Disney has the technical means of creating live action versions of their beloved animations. All of these movies are worse than the originals. Whatever is good about them was good or better in the originals. And it's not like the originals are hard to find or inaccessible. This is a cash grab from a studio that has run out of original ideas.

I liked it more than I expected to. It was closer to the quality of the original than the other two I mentioned. On the other hand, Beauty was a little colder in this version, and the Stockholm Syndrome seemed worse than I remembered from the original. Really, if they were anyway going to change things up in this movie, that would have been the thing to change.

Deadpool: I finally succumbed to boredom one evening and watched this, and I wish I hadn't. About the worst of the Marvel movies, this is dead, and soulless, with nothing but quips and violence the entire way through. The paint-thin character tragedy of Deadpool is supposed to inspire sympathy, but it didn't inspire anything but revulsion. The central conflict is that he thinks he's no longer attractive enough. Torture and kill many people. Blood. Kick. Boom.

Come on. I guess I was supposed to laugh at the funny parts, but I really couldn't be bothered to.
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