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Movie Review: ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Favors Gorgeous Style over Hard Sci-Fi

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Ghost in the Shell Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Ghost in the Shell is an anime classic! Does the movie live up to the original? Read our movie review to find out:

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he 1995 anime classic Ghost in the Shell holds a special place in my heart for being a landmark of breathtaking animation and surprisingly intelligent science fiction. As directed by Mamoru Oshii, I thought of the movie as a compromise between sci-fi picture that is equal parts philosophical and action packed. There would be long scenes where characters talk about the depths of what it means to be human, followed by a scene of a spider tank firing a machine gun. But this live-action adaptation, helmed by Rupert Sanders, makes an even bigger compromise by making this world much more serviceable to a commercial audience.

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Scarlett Johansson as the robotic Major.

On one level, I should probably be offended by this attempt at doing away with most of Oshii’s concepts and themes, leaving only the bare minimum of story in favor of the more flashy elements. But this isn’t Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell. This is the big-budget Hollywood version of Ghost in the Shell and it’s more or less what I expected.

Scarlett Johansson assumes the role of the Major, the first human of the near future to have their brain placed inside a robot body. She’s a solid enough choice for the role, given her body-comfortable nature from Under the Skin and action-ready reflexes from the Avengers movies. Though the movie doesn’t have a lot of time to explore every aspect of her character, there are little scenes carved out here and there that use her well. To understand more about the human body she lost, Major leads a woman to a bedroom and caresses her face to understand what it feels like to be human. It’s a surreal scene that could have had more potential, had the movie not been in a rush to have her kick the crap out of gangsters at a strip club.

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Pilou Asbaek as Batou.

She doesn’t have much time to lament on the concept of her soul as she’s on contract by the Hanka Robotics Corporation to work for the government organization Section 9. Their current case is dealing with a hacker terrorist that is targeting members of Hanka for a personal vendetta that may or may not be connected with Major’s accident that led to her robot body. On this search for the truth, she’s aided by her fellow officer Batou (Pilou Asbaek), a white-haired grunt with beady optics installed in his head. Chief Aramaki, played by the always-intimidating “Beat” Takeshi Kitano, also feeds her orders. While Kitano spends most of the movie barking orders quietly in his chair, he is thankfully given a badass moment to pick up a gun and get in on the action. I had much more fun watching him defend himself with a pistol and a suitcase than Johansson sliding on her knees to punch some guards.

Related: Movie Review: ‘Power Rangers’ Mighty Morphs into a Clunky Blockbuster

What the film lacks in its script, it makes up for with the cinematography and visual effects. The city environment that Section 9 occupies is a stunningly vibrant and overly detailed metropolis, doing its best to topple Blade Runner with how many gigantic video ads can be slapped onto skyscrapers. There’s something beautiful to look at in every scene, sometimes computer-generated and sometimes practical. Worth noting is an amazingly shot action sequence in a ritzy Japanese-style conference room. Robotic geishas shift from slowly serving sake to opening their faces to reveal tentacle-like wires that hack into their cyborg victims.

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Read more for the rest of the Ghost in the Shell movie review:

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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