For Reel


Ghost in the Shell (2017)
August 13, 2017, 12:28 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Rupert Sanders
3 Stars
Ghost in the ShellMamoru Oshii’s anime adaptation of Ghost in the Shell is among the crucial turning points of science fiction in the past few decades. In considering what it means to be a sentient in a world in which the line between human and machine is blurred, the film anticipated the genre’s posthuman philosophical considerations of the new millennium, as well as the cool, detached cyberpunk aesthetic often credited to The Matrix. This new adaptation largely abandons considerations of sentience in favor of a typical corporate conspiracy plot, but it just might find itself similarly studied in the near future. Scarlet Johansson’s casting was a significant point of controversy, but it’s actually the basis of the film’s most interesting idea—a late plot twist reveals that her body is a host for a Japanese woman’s consciousness, provoking considerations into globalization and the implications of the actresses’ fetishized porcelain skin. On aesthetic grounds, the film’s 3D billboards, inventive cybernetic enhancements, and the strikingly symmetrical framings set a new visual benchmark for the genre. If the film is largely a mess—the performances are all over the map and the corporate plot feels outdated in comparison to the more immediate considerations of national identity—its most interesting elements just might be worth revisiting years down the line.

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Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
July 21, 2012, 6:40 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Rupert Sanders

It comes as a surprise that, of the two “Snow White” adaptations that were released to multiplexes in the past three months, Tarsem Singh directed the kitschy family adventure Mirror, Mirror. Snow White and the Huntsman contains the remarkable visual pleasures that one would associate with his work, featuring stunningly costumed actors traversing through a bizarre dreamscape. However, as is also expected of Singh, it fails as a narrative in almost every sense (but oh, how pretty!) First-time feature filmmaker Rupert Sanders – arriving with a history in commercials – knows how to create an arresting image or twenty, but bringing any charm to his characters is a different matter entirely. While the backlash against Kristen Stewart’s acting talents is unjustified (she is perfectly suited in contemporary roles in both Into the Wild and Adventureland), as Snow White by way of Joan of Arc she is hardly inspiring, with a late-game rousing war speech landing with a thud. The other half of the titular duo is ably played by Chris Hemsworth (who is in danger of being typecast as a charismatic meathead for the rest of his career), though the script does so little to service a clumsy love-triangle that somehow even the climactic kiss of the fairy tale doesn’t register as particularly satisfying. As a cut-and-paste job of its contemporary fantasy predecessors, it is at least more visually exciting than Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, but drudging through two hours plus of otherwise humorless mediocrity is laborious.