Ghost In The Shell – Official Trailer 1

It’s hard not to see the latest trailer for the live-action version of Ghost In The Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson, and not think about the allegations of whitewashing that plagued the production (the same thing happened when the Internet learned Tilda Swinton was cast as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange; a character that was typically not only male, but Tibetan). 

That being said, Japanese anime itself doesn’t tend to depict Japanese people with features that you’d think of as traditionally Japanese (there was a reason for this, though I don’t recall it off the top of my head).

The point being, Johansson actually looks the part, and since you can’t really tell that the character is Japanese–if the anime were made elsewhere, such as the United States (bear with me a moment) she’s could be drawn exactly as she tradionally is, though the casting would have been a no-brainer. 

Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Trailer


Ghost in the Shell- Official Sneak Peek

screenshot-2016-09-22-15-59-32And by ‘Sneak Peek’ they mean they aren’t going to show us anything that’s in the least bit interesting.

Though that not quite true. Keep in mind that there was a controversy earlier this year over not only the casting of Scarlett Johannson as a character that in the anime was Japanese, but rumors that producers were intending to make her look Asian.

Seeing her appearance in the Sneak Peek, it’s possible that making her look Japanese is what they were doing, especially when you take into account how her hair’s cut. That being said, it doesn’t appear that her eyes have been altered to mimic epicanthic folds, either digitally or via make-up, though it’s hard to tell definitively.

The worse thing is that the choice of Johansson needn’t have been a controversial one because all they needed to do was the create a new character that happened to be American.

And sure, there would be some people who would complain about that–particularly fans of the anime who tended to be purists–but that discussion would be significantly better, and certainly less strident, than one of whitewashing, which is pretty indefensible.

The Avengers: Age Of Ultron Trailer – Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Edition

Kevin Feige, you cheeky bastard.  It appears that you pulled a fast one.  When the trailer for The Avengers: Age Of Ultron was leaked prior to it appearing on Marvel’s Agent’s Of S.H.I.E.L.D. I assumed that that was the end of this story.  Sure, Marvel Studios handed things pretty gracefully, but I thought it was time to move on.

How wrong I was.

The trailer that was released during S.H.I.E.L.D. is quite similar to the leaked trailer, but not the same, and as anyone knows, the Devil is in the details.  The fist, and most noticeable difference is that there’s an extended party scene (which the first trailer only touches upon), where Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr) and Jim Rhodes (Don Cheadle) attempt to lift Thor’s hammer.Tony and Rhody Attempt to lift Thor's hammer

Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) doesn’t bother, because she knows that boys will be boys.

Though things get interesting with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), otherwise known as Captain America, tries.

Thor's expression

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) appears mildly concerned, especially since he knows that one has to be deemed worthy by the magics that permeate the hammer to lift it, and who’s worthier than Captain America?

From that point on, the trailer mostly follows similar beats as the first one, though there are small differences.

Such as the image below of Black Widow staring at something…

Black Widow staring

Which was followed by this image of the Chituari scepter from 2013’s The Avengers (and what we learn give the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver their abilities from Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Ctharia weaponCombined with earlier scenes of Captian America breaking into a castle, I believe that they show his his search for the origins of Winter Soldier, and that he finds the hideout of Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann).

Though there’s an image that appears in both versions that I am very curious about, which is of an attractively-lit room that’s serving as a ballet studio, though why is it in the trailer?  Did Joss Whedon (who may not have cut it) want to add a scene of beauty to contrast all the larger-than-life heroics that proceeded it?

Ballet Dancers

Maybe, but I doubt it because it’s too obvious.  I suspect that the dancers may have something to do with the Scarlet Witch, if only because it’s not exactly the style of Black Widow or Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders).

Why Marvel Needs To Take Its Time Jumping On The Female Superhero Movie Bandwagon

I have written on women superheroes in movies in the past, and thought that it was a topic worth revisiting, especially since some have decided that Marvel Studios somehow has a duty to make a feature with a female lead.

Which is nonsense, but don’t get me wrong, inclusiveness is a great thing. All of us need to be able to see ourselves in the various superhero universes out there because they serve to not only inspire us, but as a reminder that reminder that we’re part of something greater than ourselves.

But there’s one problem with that thesis: Hollywood is driven not by altruism, but by money. If superhero films featuring women were successful, I guarantee you that every studio would be making them.

And it’s not rocket science as to why such films aren’t more common, which is because they have, so far, been failures at the box office.

For a prime example why Marvel should take their time, let’s look to 2004, when Warner Bros released Catwoman.  It was a failure, earning $80 million on a $100 million budget. And truth be told that was $80 million more than the movie deserved (Though Halle Berry was so classy that she actually attended the 2005 Golden Raspberry Awards–also known as “The Razzies“–where Catwoman “won” in the Worse Picture category).

And the thing is, I don’t blame Pitof, who directed, or Berry’s performance in the title role (though the ‘tuna’ scene was a bit obvious and silly).

Heck, I don’t even blame Theresa RebeckMichael Ferris or John Brancato, who wrote it.

I blame whichever executives at Warner Bros who green-lit the project because alarm bells should have immediately gone off when it was learned that the main character, Patience Phillips (Berry) was ‘Catwoman’ in name only.  Her origins had very little to do with the comics that inspired her creation.  Now, I understand that executives may have wanted to go in a different direction after Catwoman made an appearance in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns–who portrayed the character as a bit too damaged–but to go so totally in the opposite direction tonally was a bit of an over-correction.

As if the Titanic, in a effort to miss a a small sheet of ice, ran smack-dab into the iceberg.

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Postmortem: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

Have you ever seen a movie, like “Prometheus,” for instance, in which you were blown away when you first saw it in the theaters, only to see it again and wonder what the whole point was?  In this edition of ‘Postmortem’ I take another look at “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” a movie that I enjoyed the first time around, though I wanted to see it could stand repeated viewings.

I divided it up into six areas:  3D, Violence, Acting, Villains, Heroes and Story.

  • 3D

When I caught the 3D version of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” having already seen the non-dimensionally enhanced version two weeks earlier, I did so primarily to see if it holds up to repeated viewings though I was also curious as to whether the 3D was necessary.  And for those individuals that haven’t seen it in 3D, don’t worry about it.  It isn’t necessary and doesn’t add much in the way of value, though in scenes where large machinery was in play, like with the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarriers, or when there are explosions with lots of debris it was very interesting.

Other scenes, in other words most of the movie, not so much.

Verdict:  “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” isn’t markedly different–with the exception of a few scenes where it really pops–in 3D.  Check it out if you’re curious, but your money could be better spent elsewhere.  

  • Violence

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is without a doubt an action movie.  There’re numerous fight scenes early on, and they tend to be very visceral and physical.  Is it as violent as “Man Of Steel,” which for me sets the benchmark for superhero movie violence (including movies like “Kickass” and “Kickass 2,” though they differ in that gratuitous violence is what they’re selling to an extent.  Both are bloody and so over-the-top that they play more like a cartoon than anything else, which is their whole point)?

I’d have to say, No.  Captain America is violent, without a doubt, but that violence is of a more “realistic” nature and focused on individuals, as opposed to hundreds or thousands of people.  The scale of the violence in ‘Winter Soldier,’ as well as the way it’s edited,is focused less on the destruction itself and more on the athleticism of armed and unarmed combat.

Verdict: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is an action film, but one that’s on a very human scale.  As a result, comes across as thrilling, as opposed to gratuitous.

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‘Under The Skin’ Trailer

Hmm…I had no idea that Jonathan Glazer’s “Under The Skin” was a sci-fi film.  I’ve heard of it, but for some reason I thought that it was in the same ballpark as the Meg Ryan film “In The Cut” – which, despite never having seen it – isn’t.

Watching the trailer – and Scarlett Johansson’s performance in it – I was reminded of the trailer for David Bowie’s “The Man Who Fell To Earth;”

Which brings to mind Nirvana’s “The Man Who Sold The World;”

Which takes me almost (because the song has nothing to do with Scarlett Johansson) full circle, because  “The Man Who Sold The World” was originally performed by….David Bowie.