This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as The Matrix or Blade Runner, two films it resembles in various ways, even if it lacks their resonance. Director Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) pulls out all the stops, expertly deploying an eclectic cast and a continual stream of eye-popping visual effects. This helps make up for the surprisingly thin approach to the story's deeper themes.
It's set in near-future Japan, where Major (Scarlett Johansson) has her brain transplanted into a robotic body after an accident. Weaponised by the Hanka corporate boss Cutter (Peter Ferdinando), she is assigned to work undercover with local police chief Aramaki ('Beat' Takeshi Kitano) and a team that includes muscly sidekick Batou (Pilou Asbaek) and reparative Dr Ouelet (Juliette Binoche). Major's current case has her on a collision course with a mastermind terrorist named Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt), who is attacking Hanka executives one by one. As she tracks him down, she is noticing strange glitches in her programming, little visions of what might be her past. But these are oddly unrelated to her memories, which makes her wonder who she really was before she became a machine.
The script makes it painfully clear that the title refers to Major's soul in her mechanical body, as if it needed explaining. And there are other elements of the dialog that seem dumbed down for the mainstream, including the way the film sidesteps the big questions it raises about free will, militarised culture and corporate greed. By neglecting these elements of the story, the film wows our eyes and tantalises our emotions, but never gets under our skin. Johansson is terrific at these sort of roles (see also Lucy), and her expressive eyes bring some moving subtext to her scenes with Binoche and Pitt. Meanwhile, Kitano nearly steals the show as the cool old-school master.
Continue reading: Ghost In The Shell Review
When the Reaper virus devastates Glasgow, the British government quarantines all of Scotland. A few survivors make it out. The rest are locked behind heavy steel walls and guarded gates. Nearly three decades later, the plague reappears, this time in downtown London. Desperate to find a cure, Cabinet Minister Caranis (David O'Hara) gets Police Chief Nelson (Bob Hoskins) to send his top officer back into the hot zone. He chooses lady loose cannon Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra). Her goal? Lead a group of soldiers to Kane (Malcolm McDowell), a doctor who was once in charge of Reaper research. Seems the satellites have been picking up images of humans in the supposedly uninhabitable realm, and if Kane has found a cure, they may be able to stop the insidious disease.
Continue reading: Doomsday Review
Now then: What does this have to do with Johnny Blaze, superstar motorcycle daredevil? Well, writer-director Mark Steven Johnson will tell you, in a second prologue, after the opening credits, showing Blaze, as a teenager, making one of those unfortunate and confusing satanic contracts in an attempt to save his father's life. Johnson is apparently under the impression that this 20-minute backstory technique worked so well in his Daredevil that he can't afford to, say, skip it and get right to Nicolas Cage, who eventually shows up as the adult Johnny, about to be confronted by the consequences of said contract. Young Johnny's deal is so inadvertent and, again, vague, that the situation lacks considerable drama, but the show must go on.
Continue reading: Ghost Rider Review
I felt sorry for the kids onscreen, who one day will be hiding this film among those dark secrets of the soul that we read about in great novels. And I felt really sorry for Jon Voight. He was one of the 1960s and 1970s signature actors, and in 2004 he's getting repeatedly kicked in the face by a seven-year-old. Does he need money? If you or I wrote a movie, could we get Voight to participate for $100 and unlimited runs to the craft services table? Someone should write him a letter or send him flowers. He's a good actor and he's starring in the sequel to Baby Geniuses with Chachi? Something is very, very wrong here.
Continue reading: SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2 Review
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