Category Archives: Film & TV

Review Smurfs: The Lost Village by Jonathan Evans

 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

 

Smurfs: The Lost Village is an adventure story told so simply and with so much enthusiasm that it will definitely satisfy the younglins and more than likely break down the defences of adults.

The story opens on a recap of what Smurfs village is and the origins of Smurfette (Demi Lovato). Smurf Village is a little village where the houses are Toadstools and little blue creatures live called Smurfs, they are named after their defining characteristic i.e. Grumpy, Nosey, Baker. Smurfs can also be used as a source of raw magic if digested which is why they are hunted by the evil wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson), one day he created Smurfette to bring him the Smurfs, but the goodness of Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin) turned her good and now she lives among the others. Only weird thing though, all the other Smurfs are male. For reasons Smurfette isn’t able to find her one characteristic and is always an outsider (not just because she’s the only female). One day her and her friends Hefty (Joe Manganiello), Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) and Brainy (Danny Pudi) are wondering around and then come across another Smurf they don’t know, Gargamel also learns of this other source of Smurfs, so now the race is on for who can get there first.

The animation is loaded with energy, having the characters jump and bounce all around the screen. The character designs are an elegant translation of the old Hannah-Barbera cartoon, with minimal, but bold and expressive lines. All the Smurfs essentially look the same but they use the technique of adding something so that they instantly become recognisable i.e. glasses or a specific expression i.e. sly, grumpy and body language so that you know who’s onscreen and talking at any time.

The colour pallet is also immensely appealing. Using bright, luscious various colours to create a glowing screen. They also use blacks for more threatening moments and add contrast. Usually movies that seek to adapt a kids cartoon for a movie either make it dark in an attempt to make it appealing to older audiences, or over-saturate it with colour. This movie knows that the subject matter is by no means dark but that black, when used wisely can bring out the colour even more.

Along with all of this are some pretty neat, creative visuals. Flowers and insects that are both cute but have the right level of being threatening and the environments are sharply realised with many different textures simultaneous rendered to create a fully realised world.

One of the great strengths of the movie is a simple one to have and yet so many animated movies lack it and that is no modern-day references. Putting in modern references to any kind of social media or slang just dates the movie terribly and is nearly always forced. This movie has none of that and wont be dated because of it.

This is an adventure movie that tells it story well and with more than the necessary effort and skill gone into it. It would be something I would be more than happy to put on for my children and wouldn’t mind sitting with them for the viewing too.

 Doctor Who, Series Ten – Beyond the Arc! by Karis Clarke

Please click on the sound file below to listen to this article or read the text below.

Forget the Series Arc are we being taken around a full-blown circle?

 I am a forty something year old who has a childhood fondest for the Doctor, and as such I like to guess.

Ever since the realisation of Bad Wolf, I have been fascinated by the story arc. Waiting for the episodes written by Russell T – and in later years Stephen Moffat trying to see if a glimpse of the story arc could be fathomed.

Saturday night seemed to be the night for season ten. Written by Moffat and finally laying to rest the mystery of the vault, we had a brief reminder of how wonderful Michelle Gomez is as Missy, and whole universe of possibilities opened.

The plot was complex and played second fiddle, as my mind wondered. It took the blind Doctor, Bill and Nadul (who every week is evolving into a deeper layered character, under played skilfully by Matt Lucas) into what transpired to be a video game for some withered monks who were basically playing a bizarre version of SIMS, except the final end game was how to destroy the earth. Luckily the Dr had managed to send himself a message via his sexy ray bands and by what looks like will be the hand of Missy – the day may be saved in next week’s episode. In the back of my mind I had seen this playout before, and unfortunately ever since Bill has arrived I have had that feeling.

A new writer has emerged and with him cultural diversity is being rammed a little bit down our throats, but despite the colour of her skin and her fondness for the same sex, Bill is Rose, and the episodes we are watching are little more than enjoyable rewrites. Almost a by line, to pan out the season for the main event. ……..

Which is what?

I have no idea, but I have a whim. The trailer has been seen with The Master not Missy Master but John Sim. This could be a flash back or it could suggest degeneration and if the Master can degenerate then so can the Doctor. This had just been a thought until Saturday – On Saturday we saw the Doctor sacrifice something in his future regeneration to gain sight. Then there is Riversong’s  book which was last seen with one of her deaths in the library – David Tennant’s Library.

I don’t know how, I don’t know when or where but I think this story will revisit the tenth Doctor, Rose the library and a story arc which will blow all other story arcs out of the stratosphere. Don’t forget who the new writer is, there is a lot to be said for 60 degrees of separation and a whole wonderful world upon worlds that these writers can play with.

 

 

Review National Theatre Live: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Danielle O’Shea

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

It is difficult to say exactly what “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is about and that was exactly what its writer, Edward Albee, intended. Some may say it is about marriage but it tackles so much more than that including topics like politics, morality and the human condition. However, what is at the heart of the play is truth and illusion.

The play moves from illusion to truth and as the audience progresses deeper and deeper into the stories we begin to realise what is going on behind the idyllic illusion presented by each of the couples. Even today this portrayal resonates with modern audiences due to the importance placed on appearance and what we should and shouldn’t know about one another. Of course, all these boundaries fall away and soon we are left with an overwhelming tension between the characters whether this be due to anger, betrayal or desire. The claustrophobic use of the living room – the sole setting – only emphasises the isolation and confinement of each character.

Although all four cast members gave stunning performances, the audience can’t help but be drawn to Imelda Staunton as Martha, a bullying wife hiding her fragile mental state, and Conleth Hill as George, the bitter husband burdened by his failures. You cannot take your eyes of this pair whether it be during the hide-behind-your-hands low blows of their arguments or the unusual calmer moments that still wreak of hostility.

As a whole, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is a classic play which resonates with all audience members because, as said in one of the pre-show interviews, what is special about this play is that it has no strict description but instead is about whatever the audience take from it. An intense performance and beautifully crafted set propels this high tension drama into nerves-inducing brilliance.

National Theatre Live: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Gwyn Hall, Neath

May 19th 2017

Running time: 3 hrs

Author: Edward Albee

Director: James MacDonald

Design: Tom Pye (Designer), Charles Balfour (Lighting), Adam Cork (Sound and Music), Carole Hancock (Hair, Wigs and Make-up), Amy Ball (Casting), John Haidar (Assistant Director), Bret Yount (Fights), Penny Dyer (Dialect/ Voice), Imogen Knight (Choreography).

Cast: Imelda Staunton, Conleth Hill, Imogen Poots, Luke Treadaway

Review Alien Covenant by Jonathan Evans

 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

 

Alien was always about the something in the dark that jumps out at you. But it masterfully crafted the art of anticipation and the jumping, as well as what it is that jumps out. Ridley Scott returned to his this world with Prometheus, which was more about the origins of us as a species rather than Alien itself. Now with this one it will definitely satisfy the people wanting the big bad creature back.

This has a lot more in-common with the other Alien movies, mostly because it’s definitely seeking to startle you in you seats. But it also comes with a few existential questions. So I guess this is a hybrid of what Scott created years ago and the questions that he wants to ask now.

The plot revolves around the spaceship Covenant, that is traveling through space to colonise another planet, a freak storm hits it and it takes a beating, the crew members wake-up but a few die. They then learn that there’s a planet nearby that could serve nicely as planet for them to settle down on. A search party lands and they find that there are things waiting for them when they arrive.

Katherine Waterson as Daniels

For the role of leading lady we have Katherine Waterson as Daniels. She does something a little different than other leading characters in an action horror. She fully displays her emotions, I don’t mean that there aren’t other examples of main characters in these types of movies having feelings, but they were more stern and gave hints of their vulnerabilities. Waterson is dealt disturbing information and one of the greatest terrors of the movies and it shows, you can see all the confusion and terror on her face but she also endures and deals with the situation knowing that she has a strong core to her. Not many people embrace so heavily showing their action stars in such a state, I applaud them for it and hope to see more.

Original Xenomorph design by H.R. Giger

The Xenomorph, based on the H. R. Giger illustrations, is one of the greatest creatures ever created. It’s shape and shiny black colour makes it instantly recognisable while having intricate details close-up that makes every inch of it fascinating to take in. Whether it’s melting into the darkness, camouflaged within machinery or fully lit it is terrifying because of it’s ferocious nature and in-human body. Unlike in Prometheus, there is no ambiguity, it’s here, we see it and the characters must deal with it. It seems like it’s one-hundred-percent computer generated this time but Scott and his effects team don’t go overboard with it. They still shoot it’s scenes like they would have back then, with build-up, followed but quick shots of a slash or a burst of blood. It’s able to move faster than anyone in the suit was and they utilise that so that the threat is in it’s deadliness.

There are some images within the movie that are inspiring and thought provoking. Others that are overblown and so far beyond practical that they’ll just drawn too much attention from what happening, others where it is gruesomely terrifying.

This is Ridley Scott returning to his roots. Alien, though as masterfully made as it was, was only Scott’s second movie, since then he has gotten a lot more experienced. This shows a man who’s has years to perfect his craft and think about the subject matter to deliver a very mixed bag but comes together as a strong whole.

Whoever said that what the human mind will think of will always be more scary. That person had never seen a Xenomorph in action.

Review tic toc, a sharing, Parama2 by Helen Joy

 

All photographs credit Kirsten McTernan

Review: Tic Toc, a sharing

An invited audience to consider, critique and approve a new play from the Parama2 team, staged during Age Cymru’s Gwanwyn Festival 2017.

Examining and delighting in the lives of female factory workers in Wales

As part of a series of creative activities working with factory workers and the likes of us, the public

This time last year, I was one of a small number of women lucky enough to play a part in the MakingIt! creative writing workshops. Loosely addressing the broader project researching the lives of women in Welsh factories, we wrote and acted in our resultant plays. It was fantastic! It opened my eyes to these remarkable women and to the impact their lives had on ours; and a glimpse into the world of writing, producing and acting.

Project Review, Making It! by Helen Joy

So, when I had an invitation to attend a sharing, a mid-way production of a play written and produced by the same team, I was delighted and very proud. It was joyous to meet my writing group again and we are very much looking forward to the next stage in our joint creative development, thanks to Parama2.

And as to the play itself. Well. What a thing.

 

Some things make you feel like you have seen them before. You haven’t. They just have something about them which you recognise, instinctively. They appeal on some very basic level. They are the stories you have heard all your life but never read.

This is how this play makes me feel. I know these women. They are the women I descend from. They would not know me at all. I would be English to them, posh, privileged; and they’d be right. I loved everyone of them. I wondered how my grandmother in the ribbon factory during the war would’ve fitted in.

 

Great characters all and very well played. Each one clearly defined early on, no messing. Nice clear scripting supported by simple direction and uncomplicated acting. Neat storytelling, relying on the punch of the words and their delivery. Everyone different and balancing against each other perfectly. Enough given away to know there is a bigger story or two out there in the wings but that we will have to wait to hear them. A precious ring and a grammar school kid for starters. Great stuff. Nothing spectacular, realistic and homely.

And funny. A terrific bombastic lead with a right few pals around her but no one hogs the show. This is partly because of the singing. We sing. We’re Welsh. We can’t help it, apparently. It turns a play into a musical and in those moments, we get the chance to breathe and to think and to piece it all together. The songs are clever, witty, sad and funny and really well sung. There are some really good voices on that stage and they add to the individuality of the women, they make them even more solid and agreeable.

And as a retired factory worker in the audience said,

‘We were on the bus and this woman wouldn’t stop singing – someone shut that woman up, they said. Shirley Bassey it was.

We all like a tune to take home.

We are shown a film too. A touching vignette of a tea dance in Porthcawl wrapped up with Tom Jones. And there they were, some of them, sitting just in front of me. Truly delightful and very much part of the story of the factory workers but I wasn’t sure how this fitted in with the play. Perhaps it was just a reminder of the continuing zest for life they had, in spite of or perhaps because of, the hard work and their fights for rights. And to remind us that they are not all dead, it is not that long ago. Keep up.

Discussion afterwards is relevant and interesting. It has the feel of an audience wanting to be heard, full of ideas and histories.

More men comment than women. Maybe they still just shout louder. Different people from different backgrounds suggest different angles – more facts, more slog, more reality. There is enough of all of these. These women found fun in what did, they were the trailblazers for our freedoms and quite frankly, we could learn a thing or two from them.

This play will help them teach us, if only we listen.

I loved it.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cofio-remember-tickets-33923529189?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=estw&utm-source=tw&utm-term=listing

 

 

Review Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 by Jonathan Evans

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This movie is an example of the age that we, as a movie audience and MARVEL Studios are living in right now. There is an audience that is not so stuffy that can accept weird and outlandish concepts, characters and images and a studio that has accumulated enough capital that it is willing to spend money and delivery on them.

We get our Guardians of the Galaxy back for this movie. Chris Pratt is Peter Quill/Star Lord still a handsome well meaning fool. Rocket (Bradley Cooper) that’s still so tech savvy and can piss of anyone within a few moments of being in their company. Also still an amazing C.G.I. accomplishment. Drax (Dave Bautista) who might just get the most and biggest laughs from me this time, speaking his mind, no matter how uncomfortable or offensive it might be. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) who’s more defined here, she is the level headed one and the stern fighter. Finally is Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) still growing from the last movie, a really cute design that will probably sell many, many toys.

Our opening sequence is our Guardians defending batteries from, some kind of energy eating monster. They take it down eventually, though a more coordinated team would have been able to do it better, and receive their reward from a species of gold-skinned humanoids. Though Rocket has kept a few batteries for himself, which displeases them greatly.

This comedy style can be described as wise-ass, the characters constantly poke fun of their situation and other characters in the world. It helps by not taking itself too seriously, which would be a struggle with characters and visuals this wild and ridiculous. Some of the gags go on too long, with one character not hearing or completely misinterpreting what the other said so it all has to be repeated with rising frustration. This is milking a scene however it almost plays into the comedy, it’s funny that they don’t have to be stingy with their special effects and have a scene play-out.

These movies have distinguished themselves in their lavish production value. No other movie can I think of that has brought to life such crazy concepts with such care and skill. Having bars and ships filled to the brim with all these different alien designs and meticulously designed sets that vary from pristine palaces to dingy, leaky slums.

In the last movie Peter has a cassette tape of hit songs from the eighties and before. At the end of that movie he got the next volume, so this movie once again is filled with catchy songs. They’re not all as recognisable or as catchy as the first one, but I think they fit the themes of the moment they’re played in better.

There’s a lot less going on in this movie. Less characters and less intertwining narratives, the whole thing is more focused and consistent. I criticised the first movie for wanting to reach emotional placed but never being confident enough to go there. This one has short, but sincere moments of emotion but never tries to go too deep with them and are nearly always book-ended with comedy so the whole thing is much more consistent.

In nearly every MARVEL movie Stan Lee has made a little cameo appearance. It’s been something cute for the fans to see and develop theories for. Well here, he makes a cameo again and they do something special with it. What it is I wont dare spoil, but it’s good.

This is a franchise that never excelled in it’s depth of a story, profound message or even something philosophical. No it’s strength is in it’s incompetent, but fun characters and visuals. It strikes that great genre piece that made the eighties an enjoyable decade, colour and fun.

Grantchester & the rise of the TV vicar by Gareth Williams

As Grantchester prepares to get underway with its third series on ITV, I felt it would be a good time to reflect on the recent surge in clerical figures appearing on our television screens. Whether in comedy, drama, or documentary, the rise of the TV vicar is very exciting on a personal level. But it does intrigue me that, in this supposed age of secularism in Britain, such men and women of faith are coming to the forefront of British television. They are no longer the bit part players, given only a ceremonial role in soap marriages and funeral services. Instead, TV writers, directors and producers seem to be open to the idea that these men and women of the cloth can actually lead a show. They have entrusted them as protagonists. Praise the Lord!

Any doubts that may have surfaced in the early days of this “revival” must now be put to bed. Gone are the days where the religious output of the BBC was a mere half-hour every Sunday for Songs of Praise, and the obligatory documentary to mark the Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter. Don’t get me wrong, these still exist. Most recently, Fern Britton took a trip to Jerusalem to recount the story of Jesus in Fern Britton’s Holy Land Journey. Moreover, they still have a place within the television schedules. I think the evolution of Songs of Praise to include modern and contemporary Christian music, alongside congregations belting out 19th Century hymns, reveals something of this show’s continued relevance to its watching audience. But the representation of Christians on television is now moving beyond these niche slots to feature in other, more populist, areas of the TV landscape.

Nowhere is this more evident than Sunday nights. It is perhaps apt that the traditional day of worship for Christians should also be the time when two of the biggest contemporary dramas are broadcast, both featuring clerical characters. As mentioned earlier, Grantchester begins its third series on Sunday at 9pm, having previously been broadcast on Mondays (Series 1) and Wednesdays (Series 2), again in a primetime 9pm slot. Who would have thought that a show featuring an Anglican vicar as its protagonist would regularly pull in 6 million viewers? Yes, it taps into the current popularity of murder mystery dramas. But it is not afraid to take seriously the vocation of James Norton’s character. It deals with issues of faith in a very open and unabashed way. The Revd Sidney Chambers is not perfect, and the character himself never claims to be. He wrestles with the conflict and dilemmas that emerge from his faith, sometimes overcoming them and sometimes not. Here is a man who does not think he is better than us (the traditional stereotype of TV satire) but a man who is like us. This empathetic portrayal, I believe, is one of the reasons why the TV vicar is becoming increasingly visible on our screens.

The other big Sunday night draw is the ever-popular Call the Midwife. Broadcast on Sundays since its inception, it remains the highest-rating drama on British television since the turn of the century. And at its heart is a group of Anglican nuns. Writer Heidi Thomas has created such a wonderful drama full of real human stories. Yet she does not shy away from treating the nuns’ faith with the same care and attention as the episodic story arcs of one-off characters. The sisters receive just as much dramatic attention as the nurses that work alongside them, as does the resident vicar Tom Hereward (played by Jack Ashton). There are numerous examples of these faith-filled storylines and, like in Grantchester, the conflicts and desires at the heart of these characters are explored with such depth of care and attention that one cannot fail to empathise with them. As a result, we can begin to understand and take faith more seriously. It is no longer a weird, ancient pastime but lived experience, a legitimate (and complicated) part of a person’s identity.

These are just two examples of the increasing presence of clerical characters on our TV screens. They are by no means alone in the growing pantheon of shows featuring a clerical protagonist. Others include: Welsh-language drama Parch (featuring a female cleric), US fantasy drama Preacher, Sky Atlantic’s The Young Pope (with Jude Law), and BBC daytime series Father Brown. But if you think this list of dramatic representations means the death of the vicar in TV comedy, think again. Recent series such as This Country (BBC3) and Hospital People (BBC1) remind us that they still have a place within the sitcom genre. They can still be figures of fun, much like anyone else. But the sitcom is no longer the only place we find them.

After years of unpleasant stereotyping, in which they have been satirically lambasted, played as figures of ridicule, and been a pointless but necessary figurine at weddings and funerals, it seems that the TV vicar finally has the opportunity to tell their own story. Since the arrival of Rev, the floodgates have opened to allow the small screen cleric some actual and proper screen time. This can only be a good thing, particularly in an increasingly secular culture that views faith with suspicion. So here’s to the rising prominence of Christian clerics on television. May the positive portrayals continue, and may other faith groups follow. (And I raise a glass of whisky – Sidney’s favourite tipple – rather than the stereotypical sherry as I say that.)

Review The Boss Baby by Jonathan Evans

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

 

When you are a child everything is so much more dramatic and threatening, especially when you look back on it. What was maybe a small argument escalates into an epic battle, what was most likely a chase around the garden is a fierce race. The Boss Baby understands this concept and uses to tell it’s story in the most entertaining way.

A man named Timothy (Tobey McGuire) tells a story about how when he was young (now played by Miles Christopher Bakshi) he lived with his mother (Lisa Kudrow) and father (Jimmy Kimmel). He was very imaginative and was encouraged to use his imagination to play games of adventure. All is happy, but one day a taxi pulls-up outside his house and a baby exits, wearing a suit, sunglasses and carrying a briefcase.

Alec Baldwin as the baby is so appropriately cast against type. As a serious veteran actor he’s not the first name that comes to mind when you think of sweet baby. Though this isn’t his first time in animation, he’s given his voice to Cats & Dogs, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Madagascar 2 and Rise of the Guardians. He has a greatly distinctive, gravely voice that of course doesn’t work for a baby, that’s why it works, it makes the whole thing so much more absurd and funny. But also in terms of his performance he is able to be sharp and cynical, petty and bouncy. For the baby body itself, it obviously has greater maneuverability than a real baby would but stays true to the stubby proportions that real babies do.

This isn’t the first movie to have the plot of a new child coming along, the first ones that come to my mind are The Rugrats Movie and Look Who’s Talking (you could also interpret that as the plot of Toy Story, but that’s irrelevant). The point is how well it tells it’s story. This is fun, enjoyable with all it’s over-the-top acting, situations and reactions, engaging for the eyes with the energetic and colorful animation, all of it will have you smiling. The filmmakers have very effectively put themselves back in the position of a seven year old. Where they can see things and interpret them in their own logic. They also inject things for the adults but smooth it down enough so the young-lings will laugh too.

Through Tim’s imagination we are able to see many visual variations on-screen. Some are more expressionistic and stylized but they all have the vivid colors and clean lines that make it all clear and accessible for all the ages.

One thing I do question is the conflict with the baby. Sure adults will be able to tell that this is stylized fantasy, but how the young children will take it and then treat their siblings is a bit more of an iffy subject.

The animation, character designs and backgrounds are all smooth and simple. The eye’s are large and round with not much detail in terns of facial features and the animators use this to create large, clear expressions that make the characters thoughts and reactions easily understandable.

I was genuinely surprised how accessible and likable this movie was. There is a great understanding of the workings of a child but also a focused goal on telling a story with a message that playtime is probably more fun with a playmate. It will more than entertain the young children with it’s silly names, comedic timing and stimulating colors and the adults will see a well crafted story and genuine sentiment. The phrase “Fun for the whole family” gets tossed around a lot, but this one really is.

Review National Theatre Live: Twelfth Night by Danielle O’Shea

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

 

Twelfth Night is Shakespeare’s classical comedy about love, gender and things not always being as they seem. This story became all the more poignant considering recent discussions of gender and sexuality.

In his pre-show interview, Director Simon Godwin described his interpretation as being a comedy wrought with pain and this was evident throughout. Despite the humour which trails through almost every scene, it is undeniable that each character has their own pain – whether this be due to grief or unrequited love – and Godwin made sure not to shy away from this pain but instead to embrace it. The emphasis on character was drawn even stronger by the minimalist settings which centred around a staircase that was manipulated from scene to scene from boat to church to club and so on.

Each member of the cast was incredible and their passion for their role was palpable however two stood out for me. Tamsin Greig as Malvolia presented a stunning portrayal of the stern turned vulnerable steward who every member of the audience empathised with whether it be from her assumed romantic triumph to downfall. In addition, Daniel Rigby forced the character of Sir Andrew Aguecheek into the spotlight with an absolutely hilarious performance that left everyone in tears.

Overall, it was a marvellous experience which was incredibly inclusive in its staging leaving little room for those unfamiliar to Shakespeare to go astray. In Godwin’s interpretation, the political and social connotations of the show were celebrated which encouraged conversation both onstage and off that had previously gone unmentioned. Altogether, it was a show that united both audience and cast in spellbinding switch-up of the classic.

National Theatre Live: Twelfth Night

Gwyn Hall, Neath

April 6th 2017

Running time: 3 hrs 10 mins

Author: William Shakespeare

Director: Simon Godwin

Design: Soutra Gilmour (Designer), James Farncombe (Lighting Designer), Shelley Maxwell (Movement Director), Michael Bruce (Music), Christopher Shutt (Sound Designer), Jeannette Nelson (Company Voice Work), Kev McCurdy (Fight Director), Alice Knight (Staff Director)

Cast: Tamara Lawrence, Daniel Ezra, Oliver Chris, Emmanuel Kojo, Brad Morrison, James Wallace, Tim Mc Mullan, Niky Wardley, Daniel Rigby, Adam Best, Doon Mackichan, Phoebe Fox, Tamsin Greig, Imogen Doel, Whitney Kehinde, Ammar Duffus, Claire Cordier, Mary Doherty, Andrew MacBean, Imogen Slaughter.

 

Review Ghost in the Shell by Jonathan Evans

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell is one of the greatest pinnacles of intellectual science-fiction and cult fan-base. It is material that has passion from both sophisticated movie analyzers and the enthusiastic nerds that wear the t-shirts. It popularity and longevity has been more than proved so it is only natural that an English speaking studio would seek to adapt it.

The question of Ghost in the Shell has always been about the progress of technology and how that will effect humanity. What is the line or organic and the manufactured for the living?

You shouldn’t always have to compare one movie to another, you don’t need to compare 2001: A Space Odyssey to Star Wars, however you do need to compare the original Oldboy the the remake, because it has the same name and tells the same story. But how much? You also shouldn’t want the exact replica, because then it’s just a waste of time. With a remake of any sort, you need something that understands the material but tells it in it’s own unique way.

Director Rupert Sanders (who also made Snow White and the Huntsman) has a mastery of creating extremely good looking movies. He and his team have captured the world of the source material with the bright vibrant lights of all the advertisements, the dark shadows of the alleyways and the intricate as-well as organic look to the technology.

Being that it’s source material is Japanese the decision was made to incorporate a lot of Japanese aesthetics and cast members into this American adaptation. It comes off odd, I don’t know whether this actually takes place in Japan or whether or not there’s just some big cultural merging that has happened over the years.

Scarlett Johansson as the Major is different from what people are use to. She is more expressive and vulnerable, but that’s because her origin is changed (I’ll forgo that explanation). However she is still stern and commanding, can clearly combat a threat in either hand-to-hand or gunfire.

This is not a straight remake of the original, it is more like a channeling. It takes moments and set-pieces from the original and tells an altered story with it. You will recognise situations an images, but their place and context has change or altered.

The original movie was able to have loads of detail within it at times to explain certain elements of how the world works, but it also allowed other moments where it left it to interpretation original had blank spaces, this over explains.Rarely does it leave moments of ambiguity, this is more like a traditional Hollywood movie with ensuring all the questions are answered.

Is this still Ghost in the Shell? Yes, this is the world and it asks similar questions. It is not as unique or as haunting as the original but then it’s not trying to be a straight adaptation of it anyway. This is one of the best looking movies out right now and probably will be for awhile. It will also make you ask questions, not super deep questions that you can find in other Science fiction material, but their still worthwhile questions and all while being enveloped in a luscious conceived and realized world.