“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” is quite a mouthful. And like the physique of Dwayne Johnson – it is larger than life. This is a spin-off from the “Fast and Furious” movie series. It is not a spin-off from “Calvin & Hobbs”, but there are lots of humorous moments. But mostly there is Action, preceded with a capital A. Read more
“Ghost in the Shell” has been around for quite a while, first as a Japanese manga comic series, and in 1995, as an animated movie based on the series. Now it has become a live-action version. This cyber-punk classic is given a new look and feel, still keeping with the dystopian future and the Asian-themed storyline. The most prominent roles are not played by Asian actors in this version. But it still has a futuristic vibe that has been seen before.
In this future generic Asian city, the largest company is Hanka Robotics. A crucial experiment is successful when Dr. Ouélet (Juliette Binoche) oversees a living human brain merged into a cybernetic ‘shell’ body, with a perfect human form. The Major (Scarlett Johansson) becomes a super-powered crime fighter for a counter-cyberterrorist group called Section 9. This group is led by Togusa (Chin Han), who reports to the government about all criminal activity.
Major and her partner Batou (Pilou Asbæk) are caught in a series of murders when top executives from Hanka Robotics are brutally killed. Evidence leads to a shadowy figure called the Puppet Master, later found out to be named Kuze (Michael Pitt). The Major catches up to Kuze and they find very unusual similarities. Major starts to question everything about her past, which has always been clouded and mysterious.
The more that Major and Batou investigate, the more troubled Major becomes. She knows that her body is manufactured, but she tries to understand why her brain (her “ghost”) is leading her to a place and time in her past. Hanka Robotics is led by a shady CEO who keeping many secrets from Major. When she finally learns the truth, it will change everything in her world.
Marvel will probably not release a stand-alone “Black Widow” movie for a long time. So now with “Ghost in the Shell”, you can see it as “I, Black Widow Robot”. Scarlett Johansson has perfected her bad-ass, take-no-prisoners hot chick fighting machine persona. In this movie, she further perfects the ‘machine’ part of that equation. She is always cool and in control, and this movie demands that she continue in that role. She pulls it off with no problem.
The rest of the cast is very much on target to the original source material. Pilou Asbæk is terrific as Batou, and he looks like a young cyber-punk Kiefer Sutherland. Juliette Binoche brings a very conflicted worry to her role, as she does not want Major to know her true origin. Chin Han has the perfect look for a wise man who can lead the Section 9 group, always speaking his native language when everyone speaks English.
The production values and set designs are stunning. They are beautiful to see and visually very active and colorful. The action sequences are set up and carried out with a smooth style. The story leads deeper into the background of the Major, and finds that she might want to be there.
However, the main drawback is that all has been done before. All classic science-fiction movies are copied here and there: ‘The Matrix’, ‘The Terminator’, ‘Blade Runner’, The Fifth Element’ and others. Even the animated version of this same movie beat it by over 20 years. If all you want is something 100% original, then you must look somewhere else.
If you are looking for a well-produced and action-filled science-fiction movie, then this will please you. Scarlett Johansson plays the role well, even without being Oriental. If you do not mind all the places where they have borrowed from other movies, you might really like “Ghost Blade in the Matrix Runner Shell”…