Ghost in the Shell

3.5 Stars

A decent blockbuster, but don’t expect to be blown away.

Major Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson) is the first successfully built cyborg of her kind. With a human brain and a robotic shell, she has been specially developed by Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche) as a useful tool for the government’s counter cyber-terrorism unit. Alongside her team member Batou (Pilou Asbæk) and under command of Chief Arumaki (Takeshi Kitano), she is tasked to get to the bottom of a new and powerful hacker who has emerged.

I preferred this version to the anime film from 1995 because it’s far less ambiguous and easy to follow. This does mean it lacks a certain mystery in comparison with the original, but it’s a worthwhile tradeoff for folks like me who aren’t intrigued enough to watch it multiple times in order to understand the plot. This is certainly more catering to the masses.

Johansson and Asbæk were well cast in staying true to the character traits established in the original film. The futuristic Tokyo cityscape they have created is visually stunning, except on the big screen the cgi graphics are too low quality to really knock your socks off.

All-in-all a good and entertaining film – nothing more, nothing less.

Ghost in the Shell premieres in Sweden on 31 March.

Passengers

4 Stars

Decent, but had even greater potential.

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Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) are passengers on board a start-of-the-art spaceship ‘The Starship Avalon’, travelling from Earth to inhabit a new colony planet. 30 years into the 120 year journey, a malfunction in the ship causes Jim’s hibernation pod to open too early. Unable to reset the pod, and with only an android bartender named Arthur (Michael Sheen) for company, Jim must consider his options.

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The prospect of being stuck on a spaceship hurtling through space alone with no hope of escape is a really interesting premise; reminiscent of Alien and Moon. This makes for a really strong start to the film. Passengers starts out in sci-fi thriller territory but unexpectedly ends up in romance, somewhat killing the tension that had been built up. Luckily there are just enough plot twists to keep you entertained regardless. Although if I had a choice, I would have preferred things to remain in the same vein throughout. There was potential there for a far more intense (and less cheesy) storyline.

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Chris Pratt is perfect as the regular, down-to-earth guy Jim. This takes up the slack for Jennifer Lawrence as Aurora, who is a little more up tight and therefore harder to relate to. The Starship Avalon is almost a character in itself, with its hi-tech automated messages and assistant holograms. The vastness of the unpopulated ship helps to give an eerie feeling, similar to the hotel in The Shining. Yet its luxurious design scheme adds so much to the overall look and vibe of the film.

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Finally, It’s nice to see a big budget film come out that isn’t part of an existing franchise! Passengers premieres in Sweden on 21 December.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

3.5 Stars

Slightly better than The Force Awakens.

For those who are unaware, Rogue One is actually a Star Wars Anthology film – a standalone story which is set within the Star Wars universe; but not part of the sequel trilogy. This means the main characters from other Star Wars movies are largely left out.

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The story centers around Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) who are on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star – a superweapon developed by the Galactic Empire with the capability of destroying entire planets.

From the locations and sets to the costumed background characters and aliens, the Star Wars universe has been utilised to full effect with beautiful results. There are many visually stunning scenes.

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It is actually refreshing the fact that this is a standalone movie that hasn’t been stretched out or watered down in order to fit into a set number of installments. I think this is what makes it superior to The Force Awakens, it feels more complete.

The story is a little complex and difficult to follow at first, but don’t stress – as the film folds out everything starts to become clear and make sense. It can be a little confusing when place names sound like character names and vice versa!

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My misgivings about Rogue One largely center around the lacklustre lead characters. It’s not that there is anything ‘wrong’ with them as such, they just can’t hold a candle to the likes of Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo, Princess Leia or even Queen Amidala in terms of likeability and charisma. Jyn Erso’s character doesn’t feel fresh, as her look and personality traits are much like Rey from The Force Awakens – she might as well be the same person. This lack in strength of the new characters becomes further apparent when Darth Vader makes a brief but welcome appearance in a couple of scenes.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story premieres in Sweden on 14 December.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

2.5 Stars

Hyped up piece of nonsense.

I guess if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, you can’t really expect much from a concept like Batman versus Superman. With the right execution they just might have been able to pull it off. Unfortunately, they didn’t.

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I did my best to reserve judgement until the film came out, but it turns out that people were spot-on with their reservations about Ben Affleck as Batman. His acting is way below par; most of the time he just looks bored. This isn’t at all helped by the fact that he spends half the film channeling Bane rather than Batman. However this is more down to the flawed character development than the acting itself.

Batman isn’t the only character who seems a bit off. This incarnation of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is awkward and nerdy – he’s more like The Riddler played by Jim Carrey in Batman Forever. Certainly not the powerful and strong business man that he’s meant to be. Then there’s Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons), who looks like he should be working for some high-end men’s fashion brand. There’s no way you can believe he’d lower himself to the ranks of butler. He’s not even dressed like Alfred.

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Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) seems like an afterthought rather than an integral part of the film. Then there’s the story, and the script, the uninspiring action scenes… I could go on.

There was one thing they did get right, though. Henry Cavill IS Superman. He gives a flawless performance in spite of what he has to work with. This makes a huge difference to the film, and saves it to some extent. It’s a shame that Spiderman is on Marvel rather than DC Comics, to see Andrew Garfield’s Spiderman vs Superman instead would have at least been superb acting on both counts. Jesse Eisenberg does give a decent performance though, in spite of the odd direction of his character.

For all its flaws, at least it’s not mind-numbingly boring – and i’ve ranked it accordingly. All I can say now is: “Internet, bring on the memes!”

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice premieres in Sweden on March 23.