Archive for the ‘Rupert Sanders’ Category

Cerebral Survivors

Ghost in the Shell

Director: Rupert Sanders

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbaek, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche, Peter Ferdinado, Daniel Henshall, Yutaka Izumihara, Chin Han

Humanity’s tendency towards self-destruction and rejuvenation is carefully examined in director Rupert Sanders futuristic thriller Ghost in the Shell featuring Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation), Michael Pitt and Danish actor Pilou Asbaek.

Drawing influences from Ridley Scott’s ground breaking film Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell is based on a manga or Japanese comic of the same name by Masamune Shirow .

Johansson plays a cybernetically enhanced soldier with a human brain and a robot body Major who specializes in counter terrorism. Set in an advanced rendition of a nameless Asian city in the future with holographic images projected onto luminous skyscrapers, Major goes into retrieve a cyber geisha who hacks into the augmented brain of a corporate designer who is murdered.

As the backstory of Ghost in the Shell unfolds, Major was designed by Dr Ouerlet played with suitable panache by Oscar winning French actress Juliette Binoche (The English Patient). However when Dr Ouerlet is also targeted by cyber humans Major along with the assistance of Batou played by Danish actor Pilou Asbaek rushes to save her creator.

As Batou and Major trace the hack to a Yakuza nightclub, Batou gets injured in an explosion while Major confronts the source of the hack, the mysterious Kuze awkwardly played by American actor Michael Pitt who first rose to fame by appearing naked alongside Eva Green and Louis Garrel (Saint Laurent) in Bernardo Bertolucci’s ménage-a-trois film The Dreamers set in Paris in 1968.

Major experiences glitches or flashbacks to her former life and embarks on a quest to find out what really happened to her human body before she was cyber enhanced by the mysterious Tanka corporation run by the crazed CEO Cutter played by British character actor Peter Ferdinando (300: Rise of an Empire).

Despite the convoluted plot, is Ghost in the Shell worth watching?

If you are a serious fan of Anime yes. If you enjoyed Blade Runner, this sci-fi film will certainly not live up to expectations and occasionally be lost in translation.

Visually the film is astounding, yet in terms of originality Ghost in the Shell is nothing extraordinary and many of the philosophical reference points will be lost as the narrative descends into another inexplicable action film.

Cinema enthusiasts should note that Masamune Shirow original manga was heavily influenced by the Hungarian philosopher Arthur Koestler non-fiction 1967 publication Ghost in the Machine about humanity’s ability to self-destruct based on the Phenomenological concept of mind body dualism introduced by British behaviourist philosopher Gilbert Ryle in his 1949 book Concept of the Mind.

Phenomenology is the philosophical study of the structures of experiences and consciousness something which director Rupert Sanders attempts to convey in Ghost in the Shell through Johansson’s firm portrayal of Major rediscovering her anatomical past.

Ghost in the Shell gets a rating of 7 out of 10 enhanced by its glossy visual effects although the acting needed serious stimulation and the bizarre characters required an authenticity check.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ghost_in_the_Machine

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Koestler#Fiction_.28nove

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manga = Japanese Manga

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anime – Anime = Japanese hand drawn or computer animation

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenomenology (philosophy) – Phenomenology = philosophical study of structures and experiences

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_Ryle

The Evil Queen Stakes

Snow White and the Huntsman

Vicious Vanity takes no prisoners

Director Rupert Sanders visually stunning Gothic Snow White and the Huntsman channels Gullermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and the hit HBO Feudal Fantasy series Game of Thrones and ain’t no fairytale although all the elements of fantasy are evident from Trolls to Dwarves, to Knights and Fairies. The real winner of Snow White and the Huntsman is the Evil Queen Ravena played beautifully with a seriously unhinged quality by Oscar winner Benoni superstar Charlize Theron, referencing her earlier role in Monster. In Snow White and the Huntsman, Charlize steals the show and is the backbone to this dark fantasy epic featuring Kirsten Stewart as the meek and anaemic Snow White and Thor’s hairy and gruff Chris Hemsworth as the sword wielding Huntsman sent to rescue the damsel trapped in the dark forest…

Mirror Mirror

This Queen ain’t no Bad Apple

Where the frivolous and occasionally funny Mirror Mirror spectacularly fails is the casting of goodie-two-shoes actress Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen in director of The Immortals Tarsem Singh’s frothy and glossy retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in Mirror Mirror, which as a comedy is fun in parts namely due to the casting of genuine dwarves, along with Nathan Lane and Lily Collins, daughter of singer Phil Collins as the sweet and innocent Snow White, but the casting of Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen?Really?

Joan Rivers, Rupaul  or Kim Catrall could do a better job especially in this semi-Bollywood fantasy featuring  the buff Armie Hammer as the hapless but entirely vacant Prince. Wait for the end of Mirror Mirror to see the Dance number and the redeeming aspect is the fabulous costumes at the Queens Ball with Snow White as a Swan…

Unlike Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman is pure feudal old world action with a dash of macabre incest, vanity and vicious magic realism. Charlize Theron steals the show as the completely off kilter pyschopathic Evil Queen who bathes in milk and whose gold mirror comes to life. Twilight star Kirsten Stewart only really comes into her role as the grubby Snow White in the second part of the film, but alas there is no chemistry between her and the Huntsman, played with less enthusiasm by Chris Hemsworth who really made an impact with Kenneth Branagh’s Thor.

Mirror Mirror is suitable for pretty little girls and Snow White and the Huntsman is more closer to malignant  witchcraft appealing to a more jaded generation complete with a sinister Evil Queen hell bent in her quest for the heart of a virgin at the expense of the seven dwarfs, the occasional fairy and a hapless Troll. Charlize Theron is just that much more menacing in the evil Queen stakes and film’s final show down is visually stimulating.

 

 

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