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No one will accuse this movie of not looking great.

Ghost in the Shell as a 20 years removed live action adaptation of a seminal anime film is at once completely unnecessary and completely inevitable. We live in a weird period where the tropes and signifiers of the cyberpunk genre are everywhere we look. It makes a sort of sense that the most influential pieces of that history are being reclaimed and re-positioned for modern audiences. Not only is Ghost in the Shell a thing that happened, but Blade Runner is getting a sequel, shows like Incorporated also pay direct homage to and update the William Gibson and Margaret Atwood cyberpunk vision for the 2010s. But when you watch Marvel movies or the CW superhero shows, the technological gimmicks as well as many of the technological themes stories address (artificial intelligence, human enhancement, etc) are also present.

This is because we kind of live cyberpunk now, we’ve got all the big elements: sketchy corporations accruing more and more power, poorly understood technological progress unevenly distributed and always dovetailing between transcendence and frivolity, and a world where high-tech gadgets and cybernetic crime, warfare, and identity are taken for granted.

So what time could be better than now for an adaptation of Ghost in the Shell? This movie’s historical and iconographical relevance is only rivaled by its failure to address another cornerstone of our times: the latter days of white supremacy in an increasingly global context. Make no mistake, Ghost in the Shell is a very political film but it accomplishes this accidentally and becomes a “useful fool” in the discourses of identity politics, racial/cultural hegemony, and the gyre of entertainment representation. Now, maybe you’re not interested in all that shit. Read the review anyway, because I’ll be getting into the more technical stuff that works or doesn’t first. If you’re looking for a quick summary of the kind I usually put here, let’s say that Ghost in the Shell is… okay. Too much of the narrative is simplified or compromised, and while the imagery and action is beautiful and memorable it also frequently feels cheap outside of the really great practical effects and props that are sprinkled throughout the movie. It also has pretty rad music, though they should have used the ’95 theme more.

//SPOILERS//follow.review Read the rest of this entry »

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Oh noes, Todd Ingram finally broke the Moon!

So this week we’re going to talk about an anime movie. I was sick the other day so I have enough recent Netflix discoveries to last the rest of summer, but this time I thought I’d do something a little different. I’m super picky about anime and Netflix has allowed me the opportunity to test out some stuff I wouldn’t have bothered with otherwise. So far, this is the only full-length movie I’ve been able to bring myself to watch and it was definitely worthwhile.

Origin: Spirits of the Past may be a boring and generic title (the actual Japanese title translates to Agito the Silver-haired which isn’t much better), but the movie is a heartfelt post-apocalyptic story with strong environmentalist themes and an overall texture that would not feel out of place in one of Studio Ghibli’s similar fantasy films. Some people probably feel like Origin is really derivative and would count it against the movie. I feel like I’ve seen the anime (Trigun) and feature fims (Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke in particular) that it most heavily draws from and I don’t really have a problem with it. I mean, Japanese entertainment culture is a lot more (from what I understand) easygoing about “artistic theft” than we are in North America. Ultimately, even if it feels derivative it is still borrowing from the best and that has to count for something otherwise Tarantino is fucked too. Heh. Read the rest of this entry »

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