I rated Ghost in the Shell (2017) 5/10 #IMDb

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827

For a futuristic film this seems oddly dated. Perhaps it’s the rambling intro text in the titles: ‘in the future…cybernetic enhancement…blah blah’. Perhaps it’s the super-futuristic cityscape that now seems oddly familiar from so many movies. Weirdly, one of the scientists smokes in the lab. Possibly a cool thing in 80s Japanese comics. Just out of place and and out of time in a 2017 adaptation. In a way it’s like watching Blade Runner again: dystopian future, but how it looked with the imagination of the 80s.

The storytelling is too much like a series of comic book chapters jammed together to make it a flowing cinematic narrative. Some of these chapters are good. Such as Major visiting her mother is very well done. Awkward, emotive, and left to be continued. And the scenes in the Yakuza club are tense and engaging.

There’s too much made of the cyberization of the people. It’s just a bit too ‘look at this, people with machine parts’. In the time that’s passed since the comics, the novelty has worn off and bled into reality a little. It’s cinema: show, don’t tell.

Perhaps the oddest thing is the robo-nudity of Major. Sure, I understand that Major has tactical camouflage built into her skin. And that clothes would impede her stealth and killing ability. But really? Maybe that’s the point though. To give the audience discomfort. A machine with the brain of a human that looks like, but is sufficiently different from, a human to make us feel uncomfortable when we see her shell.

Oh, the repeated clumsy references to Major’s ‘ghost’ do get tedious. If you take ‘ghost’ to mean human consciousness then say that. Or use ‘soul’ or even ‘essence’. The Japanese idea translating as ‘ghost’ makes sense in the comics. But in this movie it just sounds gauche.

Overall this was OK. Some great bits spoiled by an overly-literal reference to the excellent original material.

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I rated Kong: Skull Island (2017) 7/10 #IMDb

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3731562

Kong movies are a bit of a mixed bag. This one seems to have grabbed all of the goodies from those bags, mixed them up with some madness and explosions and produced an enjoyable movie.

The ‘assemble the team’ bit is done quickly and with the right note of humour. Then it’s off to skull island. Some great flying in scenes and it’s right into the action.

1973 makes Samuel L Jackson’s character more credible than it would be today. He’s crazy.

The rest of the cast do a good job. John Reilly does a great job of being both comic relief and a disturbing castaway. A surprisingly sophisticated role for this kind of multi-national film. His crazy is both amusing and scary. Brie Larson does a good job of playing an independent woman in the type of movie that generally has ‘damsel in distress’ on offer.
Tom hiddleston plays a character of sorts. Sometimes really well.

It’s not a cerebral movie. It offers some familiar Kong themes. It has some NSS ‘message moments’ but these pass easily in the march to a conclusion.

Some of the cuts between the groups can be a bit disorientating.

It’s worth watching if you like threat, doom, big monsters, lots of bangs, and some kind of story.

I rated Sing (2016) 7/10 #IMDb

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3470600

Really enjoyable animated movie about a luckless koala desperate to save his theatre. His final grasp is with a talent show.

There are some well done cartoon capers mixed in with a tale of perseverance and doing things just for the fun of them.

Slickly animated, nicely told, and with some good voice parts. Even the singing bits are tolerable.

Feel pretty good animated fun.

I rated Viceroy’s House (2017) 5/10 #IMDb

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4977530

A surprisingly gentle tale of the partition of India at the time of independence from the British empire.

The Viceroy (Mountbatten) and the lady Mountbatten are portrayed sympathetically.
The viceroy’s house plays out as a microcosm of the country with friendship, enmity, confusion, and change.
The various politicians are treated almost as caricatures.
Despite the terrible, predetermined, outcome we’re offered hope in some of the personal stories.

It’s a nicely constructed story, beautifully shot, and with some entertaining, fascinating, and disturbing moments. Despite the monumental history, the cast, and the direction it is not great. OK. Worth catching but don’t go out of your way.

I rated Logan (2017) 8/10 #IMDb

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3315342

Not your regular X-men movie. Jackman, Stewart, and keen create compelling characters who deal with their tough survivalist scenarios brilliantly. Merchant not so much. Caliban is possibly one of the weakest roles played weakly in any X-men movie yet.

The violence is both violent and bloody. And the story is more or less ‘get from here to there’. But that belies its complexity. There are a few tough questions in this movie. Especially if you’ve seen previous X-men movies.

Worth watching. Possibly worth watching even if you have not seen any previous X-men movie. Though just for the hell of it I would recommend X-2.

It is stirring stuff. And I challenge you to avoid feeling a little weepy at some points. Remember The Wolverine with the claw snipping? This is weepier.

I rated Hidden Figures (2016) 8/10 #IMDb

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4846340

Wow. From its opening scene its apparent this is a great mix of meaningful, challenging, and entertaining content.

The weirdness of segregation and sexism and their deleterious effects on Virginia society, productivity, personal development, and NASA is shocking. The personal battles of the characters and convincing portrayals are as compelling as they are disturbing.

The NASA story and the Cold War pressures create a great environment to explore the characters.

Another ‘based on a true story’ movie, this one you really have to see. Some great acting, jarring events, and a good story.

I rated The Founder (2016) 6/10 #IMDb

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4276820

Engaging tale of Ray Kroc’s ‘founding’ of McDonalds.

Michael Keaton does a fair job of trying to be a focused and somewhat ruthless Kroc. He gets across the variable success of Kroc’s earlier entrepreneurial efforts. And he does portray the evangelical enthusiasm for the McDonald’s concept. There’s an apparent maturing of Kroc’s business thinking and his introduction of talented folks who share his vision and have skills he does not.

The McDonalds brothers are successful in their own way but are very risk averse. As a result it’s hard to feel sympathy for them when Kroc’s McDonalds corporation machinery buys them out of their store. For apparently $1.35million each. Not bad for a small burger joint.

It’s an OK ‘based on a true story’ film that despite its quality lacks some of the drama and tension that this story might have been able to deal. Worth watching if you have the time.