Ghost in the Shell (2017 Movie)

gitsblurayGhost in the Shell.  I’ve got a history with this franchise, so I’ll get that out of the way first. Going to be a long paragraph.

I got into anime in roughly 2001. Things like Tenchi Muyo and whatnot. In my quest to explore more anime, I joined various forums and heard tons and tons of praise for an anime movie called Ghost in the Shell. I watched it and was shocked at how graphic it was in terms of sexual content and violence. I wasn’t into paying attention to artists or directors at that time, just the name. So Ghost in the Shell, to be abbreviated GitS for the rest of this review, became something that I wanted nothing to do with. By 2004 I was more aware of things like artists, creators, directors, etc, etc. I became a huge fan of the Appleseed movies and realized that Shiro Masumi was the creator of them. That was when I realized that he was also the creator of GitS. So I figured I’d check out the source material for GitS and read the manga. That was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in regards to my anime/manga time. Halfway through the manga was a large section that was in color and it was a pornographic orgy between the Major and her lovers.  I’ve never read another manga by Masumi again and it cooled my interest even in Appleseed.

When I met Miss Librarian, later to become Mrs Bookstooge, we both had an interest in anime and manga. She started talking about this tv show, GitS: Standalone Complex (abr GitS:SaC). I was shocked that this lovely christian woman was watching something like that, as I figured it was at the same level as the original movie or manga. Thankfully, she informed me otherwise and we ended up watching it together after we got married and it became one of my favorite animes. GitS:SaC 2nd Gig was just as fun for me. GitS: Arise (a reboot/retelling of the origins of Section 9) was even better but had such a limited dvd run that I was never able to afford them.

Edited to Add: It appears that Amazon has the Arise franchise on bluray for pretty cheap. I now know what I’m getting myself for Christmas

So the long and the short of it is that I have a very mixed set of feelings about GitS. I love the ideas, what it means to be human in a world where robotics and humanity are almost interchangable. I just didn’t like the graphicness of the movies.

Ok, now on to the review for this live action 2017 movie.

First, I probably wouldn’t have given this the time of day, given my history with the movie side of GitS, except for all the ballyhoo by “social justice warriors” decrying the complete rascism and whitewashing of everything in Hollywood. I think Hollywood is already a pit of iniquity, so to hear people like the SJW’s suddenly getting up in arms about it just made me roll my eyes. It also kicked in my perversity gene so now I wanted to watch this. Yep, kind of the opposite side of the “it’s popular so I must hate it” coin.

This was the origin story of Major Kusanagi. I enjoyed my time watching this. There is a lot of angst about just what Major is, as she can’t remember things very well before her inception into the new robotic body.

Plotwise, I was afraid they were going to just copy a version of GitS:SaC and have the Laughing Man storyline. Thankfully they didn’t and had their own little cyber-hacker monster storyline. It did a good job of introducing us to the world of tomorrow. I did feel that Section 9, which deals with cyber-terrorism, wasn’t explained so well. I had no problems with it but I’ve also got some GitS experience to fill in the blanks.

I really liked that the head of Section 9, Aramaki, spoke in japanese. I’ve seen the guy in other japanese movies and enjoyed his performance. Aramaki was always in the background and that was kept the same here, as it should be. The guy they chose to play Batou was spot on and I enjoyed how he got his distinctive set of eyes.  I thought Johansson did a good job of playing Major and that the studio made the right choice in employing a big name actress in the lead role. They wanted to draw in more than just die-hard GitS fans and Johansson’s presence would definitely do that. With the Major being a construct, they can also easily replace her with other actresses in future movies and have it be explained by her changing shells. Bodies for the Major are like clothes, easy to change.

Overall, I enjoyed this more than Doctor StrangeNot a movie I’d want to own or even rewatch to be honest but if they make more and turn it into a franchise, kind of like the Resident Evil franchise, I’ll definitely tune in. If you liked this movie, then I’d definitely recommend watching the 2 GitS:SaC tv series.

 

bookstooge

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Doctor Strange (Movie)

doctor-strange-blu-boxWell, this movie didn’t start out the best for me.  It starts out in a dark room with darkly robed figures. I HATE movie sequences where I can’t see what is going on. One of those pet peeves that will ruin the whole thing for me. So I’m not definitely not going to be buying this. I didn’t care how the rest of the movie went, that beginning sank it.

Stephen Strange’s introduction was perfect. Cumberbatch did a fantastic job of showing Strange’s arrogance AND skill. In many ways, his rendering of Sherlock served him well in this movie. I did find his fall rather precipitous, but considering the time space of the movie, to stretch it out any more would have cut into the rest of the movie.

And that is where this movie just kind of “meh’ed” me.  His training time, eh, it was just so mediocre. Mysterious hints of the badguys doing some ritual, his training with weapons magical and mundane, his voracious learning. It was all pretty boring to me.

When the badguys begin attacking the Sanctum’s and Strange defends the New York Branch, gaining the help of the Cloak of Levitation, that was pretty cool. The whole out of body fight experience in the hospital though, it made me wonder just how much time had passed? I mean, my last recollection of Strange is as a whining, poor me, acolyte and suddenly he’s going head to head with The Bad Guy? Where’s the Ancient One? I’d like to know why she’s slacking off and letting Strange get his butt kicked.

The battle in the Mirror Dimension, well, that just struck me as  a total ripoff from Inception. Escher-style buildings and scenery make my stomach go “ughh”.  The climactic battle in Hong Kong really didn’t show me just how much of a threat Dormammu was supposed to be. Strange’s little time battle with Dormammu was clever, but it made Dormammu look like an idiot. How much of a real threat can something so stupid be?

Overall, I did enjoy my time watching this but there was nothing special that made me want to buy it. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m starting to experience Super Hero Movie burnout. Definitely a must-see though if you have plans to watch the upcoming Infinity War duology. Strange plays a big part in that with his Time Infinity Gem. Well, at least he did in the comics.

 

bookstooge

Saving Daylight Movie Trailers

Tonight ends the tyranny of Big Government, at least for a couple of months. Thankfully, Brenton Dickieson put things into a slightly more awesome perspective. I’d never seen the trailer before and man, I sure enjoyed it.

If you hate trailers like I do and hate Daylight Savings like I do, then you might find this spoofy trailer and the trailer for the sequel as enjoyable as I did. Sadly, I can’t do videos here on WordPress, so I’ll just be linking to the respective Youtube Videos. The text under the pictures are the actual links.

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Saving Daylight

 

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Saving Daylight II: The Vanishing Hour

 

The really funny/sad thing is that you could see Hollywood actually attempting to make such a stupid movie. So enjoy your extra hour of sleep tomorrow! Since my body is a finely tuned killing machine aware of the slightest variance in all surroundings, I figure I’ll wake up at the same time as always 😦

 

iveprobablyhadthreelv100blastoisesovertheyearseach_504f0d00612cf43d9d0ce99e02c06d35

Time to hit the gym!

 

bookstooge

Death Note: Light Up the New World (Movie) (Nippon TV 2016)

dnbddvdOk, well, that was crap. Spoilers, but you’ll thank me if it saves you from wasting time on this.

Basic premise is that Light Yagami had a secret kid, L had his dna mixed with some other kid and the King of the Shinagami allows up to 6 Death Notes into the world. Of course, the actual story follows a Police Officer, Riyuzaki who is L’s successor (and pretty much called “L’s Successor” for the whole movie. It was beyond annoying) and Shien, a punk in white skinny jeans [skinny jeans. If you have a pair, you don’t wear. That’s my motto and I’ll gladly offend anyone who thinks otherwise] who is a follower of the original Kira.

 

All 3 are involved in trying to get all 6 Death Notes and stuff happens. It made no sense to me. One of the Death Note holders goes on a killing spree in downtown Tokyo, just walking along and writing down peoples names so they die. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Thankfully, she doesn’t last long.

A grown up Misa Amane makes an appearance and I have to say, she’s a beautiful woman. Much more attractive than the skinny little kid she was in Death Note: The Last Name.  Sadly, she isn’t any smarter. Speaking of smarter, don’t get me going on the 3 main male characters. Bunch of reactive, knee-jerk dip sticks. We get some more Shinagami but they’re one scene wonders for the most part.

It ends with everyone but the Police Officer dying and the 6 Death Notes scattered or destroyed. And the police officer? He was the Kira successor all along, he just forgot for most of the movie because he gave up the Death Note. It was not cohesively coherent and it left me feeling befuddled and angry that I’d wasted 2 1/4hrs of my precious time.

I liked the Netflix version of Death Note more than this sequel. With this movie, I am officially movie’d out and Death Note’d out.

m-deathnoteShien, Misa Amane, Mr Po-Po and “L’s Successor”

 

  1. Death Note Netflix 2017
  2. Death Note Vizmedia 2006
  3. Death Note: The Last Name Vizmedia 2006

 

Death Note: The Last Name (Movie) (Viz Media 2006)

deathnote2Whooooo. This starts right off from the first Death NoteI suspect that Part I and Part II were all filmed as one movie and then split up for times’ sake. Both are between 130-140 minutes and since the director is NOT Peter Jackson, he doesn’t get one 4 1/2 hr movie.

There will be small spoilers, but nothing that I consider huge. Because Death Note has some seriously huge spoiler material, that is for sure. It makes it rather hard to discuss with someone who hasn’t seen it. Kind of like The Sixth Sense. The twist at the end impacts everything that came before. There isn’t that same twist, but some things just as big do occur.

 

The rivaly between Light and L starts to intensify. L begins to attend the same college as Light and Misa Amane begins dating Light. Misa is another Kira, after being saved from a stalker by a shinigami named Rem. Misa realizes she isn’t as smart as the original Kira but wants to help out. When she finds out that Kira is Light, she gives her cooperation on the terms that Light will be her boyfriend.

Shit gets real when Kira II begins killing people on live tv who oppose Kira. Mostly innocent police officers who happen to be on the scene. This ramps up the feelings on the Kira Task Force and L begins authorizing highly illegal activity, such as the kidnapping of Misa Amane on suspicion of being Kira II.

It is still all a game to Light and he plays with peoples’ lives like pieces on a chessboard. Just like in the manga.

There are some really cool twists and turns, involving multiple Death Notes, multiple Shinigami, memories, Eyes of the Shinigami and continued move and counter-move by both Light and L. While some of the specifics are not exactly like the manga, they are exactly like the manga in spirit.

Now, I’d read the manga twice before watching this or Part I, so I’m not sure how that affected my viewpoint. It would be interesting to get someone’s perspective who hasn’t read the manga, but only watched the Netflix Death NoteCough,BookCupidity,Cough.

The whole storyline with Near and Melo gets cut out, but honestly, that would require at least another 2 movies, so it isn’t a surprise it isn’t included. This movie wraps up the storyline and shows the ending of the Death Note manga like it was intended. My only other quibble is that Light doesn’t have bleached blonde hair tips. I know that is an odd thing, but that is ONE detail that the Netflix version got right that I was happy about.

To end this ramble, I enjoyed these Death Note movies immensely. I don’t know how well someone who isn’t already familiar with the franchise would enjoy them, but they do a MUCH better job of portraying Death Note than that Netflix bastardization did.

deathnote2-2The main cast of Death Note: The Last Name. I’m not even going to say how many of them die.

 

I’m including my thoughts on the Death Note manga below from when I reviewed them in ’14. Just be aware, they’re as spoilery as anything, as is my tendency.

 

  1. Death Note Vol. 1-3
  2. Death Note Vol. 4-6
  3. Death Note Vol. 7-9
  4. Death Note Vol. 10-12

Death Note (Movie) (Viz Media 2006)

deathnote (Custom)This live-action version of Death Note is part I. Parts I & II [titled Death Note: The Last Name] were released concurrently in 2006 by Viz Media here in the United States. It was originally produced and released in either Japan or Korea. [Korea produces live action adaptations of popular anime by the metric ton]

Anyway. Unlike the Netflix Death Note, this starts out with mysterious killings happening all over the world and the world calling the killer Kira and an avatar of Justice.

 

We then jump back in time and are introduced to Light Yagami, college student who has just passed the bar, is popular and good at sports. He’s the top of his class and his girlfriend is another bar examinee. They both want to eventually be police officers. Light becomes disillusioned with the justice system of Japan when he hacks into the police data base and uncovers a list of criminals who have gone free and will never be prosecuted. He goes to a bar to find out if this is true or not and comes across a child killer who got off. He runs off into the rain and throws his law book away. THAT is when he finds the Death Note and begins his cleansing of the criminal element around the world.

The police are trying to determine if this is some sort of plague when they are informed by the mysterious “L” that these deaths are not natural and are caused by an individual. L vows to bring this killer to justice and thus begins the game of wits between Light/Kira and L.

Now THIS is a much more faithful adaptation of the manga. First, Light is a freaking genius. He reads the rules of the notebook, knows how to use them, experiments to find the limits and generally shows what a heartless killer he really is. Second, the rules that Light uses are written out on the screen for the viewer to see, as he is using it. It explains what is going on. Third, Light narrates his reasoning, his logic behind his moves. Fourthly, Light maneuvers circumstances to maximize his use of the Death Note. Which leads right back to Number One.

L only plays a small part in this first movie. More of an introduction as Kira’s opponent than anything. He’s a weirdo and it’s not obvious at all if he’s actually a good guy.

Misa Misa is introduced in the last 10 minutes of the film as well. It is not apparent from her introduction what part she’ll play. Of course, if you’ve read the manga, you know 😀

The movie moves forward very dramatically. After the dramatics, Light ends up asking his father, the head of the Kira Task Force, to join said Task Force. L intercedes on his behalf. The movie ends with L eating from a bag of consomme flavored chips. The exact same kind that Light used to cover his killings while under observation.

Light knows that L knows that Light is Kira. But knowing is one thing. Proving is quite another. Let the battle of the brains begin in the second chapter, The Last Name. 

 

9625d4_7e4daafc00334b089afce91c9b88cc0fCast of Characters from Death Note, Part I. Three of them are dead by the end of the movie. You’ll have to guess which three.

Death Note (Movie) (Netflix 2017 Release)

(Sorry BC, I couldn’t wait until next weekend!)

 

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I was discussing Favorites with Book Cupidity and we got on the subject of Death Note. I’ve been a fan of the manga since it was released here in the United States beginning in ’05 and ending in ’07.  2 Live action movies were released in Japan and eventually made their way here to the States. I own those two movies on dvd and I’ll be watching and reviewing them later this week. An anime was created and was just as popular, if not more so, than the manga. A tv show aired for 11 episodes and a third movie was created which took place after the 2 movies ended. I do not believe the tv show or 3rd movie ever made it to Region 1 dvd/bluray/digital. They are available on various torrent sites with subtitles however. I plan on reviewing the 3rd movie as well. So this coming week will be a bit movie focused instead of book focused.

Well, it turns out that Netflix JUST released their own adaptation and BC was saying how she and her hubby were rather underwhelmed. Reviews I saw also lambasted the adaptation. So of course, I had to check it out for myself.

Ok, my first impressions were actually rather positive. Because I have read the manga, watched the original movies and watched the anime, I’ve got a solid grounding. That directly explains why I enjoyed this.

This was truly an adaptation. Much like some of those Pride and Prejudice adaptations. They take the bones of the story and then add their own guts, flesh and skin to it.  If you go into this expecting a hollywood aesthetic telling of the Death Note story, you’ll be disappointed. This is NOT the Death Note of the manga. This takes the idea of the Death Note and some of the characters from the manga and tells its own story.

Light Turner is just a poor schmuck who wants to make the world a better place. By killing criminals. His girlfriend Mia is the twisted one and is willing to do whatever is necessary to keep the killing of criminals going.  L, Light’s supposed nemesis, is an unstable kid who hops around on chairs and eats candy by the handful. And goes completely off the rails near the end. Light’s Dad is a police officer, just a Joe Officer heading a lonely task force by himself trying to find Kira. Kira, by the way, is what Light is calling himself when he kills the criminals.

Teen hormones and angsty’ness [but not really] ensue. Light has one moment of genius and does a whole bunch of stuff right at the end, whereas before he hasn’t exhibited one trace of smartness. Heck, I’m smarter than the Light portrayed in this movie. L is a bad caricature and never proves anything, just rants and then tries to freaking shoot Light! Near and Mello don’t exist in this adaptation I guess. Which means that L’s true fate doesn’t happen here. THAT was disappointing.  The movie ends without ANY resolution. To me, it looks like it was made as a Part I but the studio was hedging their bets by not calling it Part I.

The change of location from Japan to Seattle, from Light and L going from Japanese to a white and black guy and Mia filling in for Misa, I had no problems with. But the change in the characters themselves was what got me. Light went from a Sherlock Holmes genius psychopath willing to use ANYONE to some blubbering, wants to be loved and understood generic American Teenager. L went from the smartest, most idiosyncratic private detective to a kid with replacement daddy-issues. And Mia? She was what Light SHOULD have been. She was the only character worthy of actually having a Death Note. My other big issue is that this went from a mind game between geniuses to a splatterfest. Decapitations of bullies, tyrants exploding gorefully, etc, etc.

The ending was huge mess. If I hadn’t had a thorough grounding in just what the Death Note could do, I would have been completely lost. I definitely would not have liked this if this had been the first incarnation of Death Note that I had seen. As a seasoned connoisseur however, it was refreshing to see someone else’s interpretation, no matter how messy.

To end. This movie sucked on its own. It was disjointed, in execution, in character development and plotting. As an adaptation of something I already liked though, I enjoyed this version.

Recommendation: For Completists Only

/or\

for those who have read the manga AND watched the 2 Japanese live action films and loved them all. If you were so-so about either the manga or the movies, this won’t ignite your interest.

deathnote

 

I’m including my thoughts on the Death Note manga below from when I reviewed them in ’14. Just be aware, they’re as spoilery as anything, as is my tendency.

 

  1. Death Note Vol. 1-3
  2. Death Note Vol. 4-6
  3. Death Note Vol. 7-9
  4. Death Note Vol. 10-12

 

bookstooge