Paul McGuire Grimes is here with his review of a cartoon turn live action film and the Harry Potter prequel you can watch at home.
GHOST IN THE SHELL (theatrical release)
In a future world, artificial intelligence becomes a closer reality. The line starts to blur between robots and humans as human bodies are enhanced with synthetic parts and vice versa. Scarlett Johansson plays Mira who was almost killed after tragic accident. Her brain has survived and is placed in a synthetic robot. She is told she is the first of her kind. The company behind this is Hanka Robotics. While her doctor sees potential for Mira, another member of the company wants to use her as a weapon. A year passes and Mira, who now goes by Major, only has vague memories of her previous life and has honed in on her skills as a trained assassin. The various scientists at Hanka Robotics are part robot, part human and become the targets of being hacked into and killed. Major and her counterpart Batou hunt down the assassin who is targeting the scientists behind Project 2571. Her discovery about Project 2571 leads Major to reassess everything she remembers about her past.
-Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Juliette Binoche, Michael Pitt
-Based on the Japanese manga comic series by Masamune Shirow. I’ve never read the books or saw the original animated movie and was able to easily follow along with this live action version. Accessible to a beginner audience instead of playing too deep to please the fans
-The title refers to the idea that the “ghost” refers to a person’s soul who is now living in robotic “shell” of a body.
-Scarlett Johansson is no stranger at playing action heroines and non-human characters with her roles in the Avengers movies, Lucy, and Under the Skin. She can easily handle the action sequences while finding that inner human core left in Major
-Visually stunning with very intricate design into the virtual reality look of a futuristic Japan. Feels like a cross between The Matrix, Total Recall, and The Terminator.
-While it’s fun to look at, it takes a good hour before we can get any sort of emotional content or drive for Major. The first half basically feels like a standard sci-fi action film while the second half finally dives into the conflict at hand for her.
-Directed at all the same pace and energy. Lacking in levels to bring out the drive, mystery, and intrigue at hand.
-The film reminds us that what we do in life defines us and that humanity is our virtue.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Only if you’re already invested in the material
RATING: 2.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (home release)
Long before Harry Potter set foot at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, a different battle was brewing for wizards in New York City. A dark force is wreaking havoc and destroying part of the city. A dark wizard by the name of Gellert Grindelwald has gone missing and the news is making the front headlines of the paper. These mysterious occurrences could potentially expose the wizard population in the city. Without even realizing it, Newt Scamander finds himself wrapped up in this mess when he arrives in the Big Apple. He’s a Magizoologist who collects and rescues beasts and creatures of all sizes and shapes that are on the brink of extinction. It’s not long after he arrives that Newt finds himself all a flutter when his magical suitcase containing some of these creatures gets mixed up with a suitcase belonging to Jacob Kowalski, a “No-Maj”. That’s the American term for Muggle, which represents any human that is not a wizard or witch. Tina Goldstein, a witch and auror who works for the Magical Congress of the United States of America, notices their mix-up and gets involved with helping Newt and Jacob capture the beasts that have escaped. Tina’s sister, Queenie, also joins them and the four of them risk their lives and the rest of the wizard population when exposure between the two species could lead to an all out battle.
-Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Katherine Waterston, Jon Voight, Ezra Miller
-Directed by David Yates who also worked on the final four Harry Potter films. Having someone familiar with J.K. Rowling’s work helps bring the audience right back into the look and feel of this world again.
-J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay and plans on this being a five film franchise.
-Acts as a prequel with very few references to the characters we have come to know so far. The story is the fleshed out version of a textbook Harry Potter reads in the first book.
-Like many beginner films in a franchise, it takes some time to get used to the characters and conflicts at hand. It doesn’t have the same emotional arch yet that you get after spending time with the Harry Potter stories. Many new characters and side plots that come into play that I suspect will be carried out with the upcoming movies.
-Rowling knows how to play into the comedy and injects the film with a playful sense of humor with Newt and Jacob Kowalski trying to capture the creatures
-Knowing how political Rowling is, many of the underlying themes feel very topical.