Ghost in the Shell

Vampire Owl: Now my vision is clear. It was those ghosts. They did it!

Vampire Bat: What are you talking about?

Vampire Owl: The ghosts stole the seashells which I had collected and stored near the warehouse on the beach.

Vampire Bat: No, you can’t blame the ghosts or Lich Queen’s zombies on this one.

Vampire Owl: Does that mean I can blame the werewolves? Or the witches?

Vampire Bat: Why do you want to blame someone because you lost a few seashells which are not at all valuable to the realm?

Vampire Owl: Because it is quite natural for them to steal from us. I wouldn’t tolerate being made a fool.

Vampire Bat: I got the feeling that Vampire Raven threw it back into the sea which he was cleaning the area. He was assigned to the beach.

Vampire Owl: What? That evil black bird! I told you that he was evil! Not that much as Vampire Crocodile, but still…

Vampire Bat: Just watch this movie and see what the ghost here is all about.

[Gets three cups of Wayanad tea with Patanjali Doodh Biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A long way into the future, humanity has depended on science a lot, and has developed very much. There are a lot of enhancements available for the human body which involves the improvement of vision, hearing, strength, accuracy and intelligence, which are all available on the market for a price. In a godless world, it is science that decides every action of man, with more and more inventions coming up, and technology proving it to be endless in scope. It is that point of time when death by disease seems to be a difficult thing to happen as most parts of the body are replaced with ease. Hanka Robotics, which is world’s leading developer of human augmentative technology decides to take it one step further. In a world which has robots and Artificial Intelligence to do a lot of things, they come up with the idea to develop of a mechanical body termed as shell, that could integrate human brain and use it.

So, what happens next? :: Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche), a champion at what she does, is chosen to do this job. She is someone who is known to have done wonders with her research, and is the easy choice here. Now, there is the question of a volunteer, and it comes as a result of terror. Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson), a young lady who somehow survives a terrorist attack in which everyone in her family other than her is killed, is chosen to be the brain of the shell, with her body damaged in the attack beyond repair. It seems to work well, as the test subject awakens, and is able to talk and move without any problem. The CEO of the organization, Cutter (Peter Ferdinando) observes the progress which has been made with the shell and the resultant cyborg organism, and decides that this new creation should be used against terrorism as soon as possible. He considers her as their future, and their best hope against terrorists.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: After an year passes, Killian has become a Major in the anti-terrorist bureau Section Nine. Working along with the counter-terrorism operatives Batou (Pilou Asbaek) and Togusa (Chin Han) and under the command of Chief Daisuke Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano) she continues the hunt for terrorists, making amends for the death of her parents due to such an attack. Among those attacks which she and her partners have witnessed, there is one which looks rather strange, with robots going rogue for no reason and hacking into the mind of a Hanka employee. Even for the best of hackers, this seem unnatural, and she feels that there is something deeper regarding this. Despite the hallucinations that she keeps having, she decides to dive deep into the Artificial Intelligence of the robot, and there she finds an unknown entity, known only as Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt). But this entity is not human, or robot, or a hybrid – it is something that exists within. She needs to find more before time runs out.

The defence of Ghost in the Shell :: The action sequences are really good, and the visuals are a joy to watch; the movie is rich on the screen, and you can’t deny it at any moment – the world of the future is so nicely created that we keep looking at every detail carefully. Scarlett Johansson leads the way as the perfect choice for this protagonist. She seems to be doing what Mila Jovovich has been doing for Resident Evil and Kate Beckinsale has been working for Underworld. Looking so good, and removing all doubts about why she was cast in this role, she goes on to become the true ghost inside the shell – more than Black Widow in The Avengers and it’s sequel or those Captain America flicks. Along with her, the movie also has a tale which will have our attention very early. When the idea is also so good, we keep staring, and when every detail of the visual is that good, we just can’t stop admiring the awesomeness on the screen. Along with the same, the movie has its own twists; some people will come close to guessing the same, but it still counts as pretty good ones which adds to totality.

Positives and negatives :: Ghost in the Shell should feel a little short with how much it really has – there is the hundred percent need for a sequel as we wish to see Scarlett Johansson going through all the action again in a sequel which would take this away from its origin story mode where it is now. There will be shades of other movies, but everything in here is enhanced, and nothing dares to go a step down, which is the beauty of what we see here. I haven’t gone through the Japanese manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow on which this is based, and that should be left for the fans – I would just watch this movie and enjoy how good it happens to be. A movie which entertains as well as brings something to think about is a glorious watch. It is also for us to think about who is right and who is wrong, and how correct is all that we are thought to believe in – maybe there is hope outside the thought process or maybe there is none at all.

How it finishes :: Ghost in the Shell can be considered as one of the best movies of the year, easily rising above big flicks of huge franchises like Alien Covenant and Wonder Woman, and the same is done in style. It also successfully provides a message against the human desire to look better and have an easier life – science has made all these easier, but is humanity good enough to negate the harmful effects of technology? Well, we are already slaves to technology, and so the answer might be no already. In future, it is clearly stated that wars will be fought on science and technology, and there will be terror. While hoping that such a day will never come, we also get a look at how mind finally takes over in the battle against all odds. Well, let the mind power win, and go on to watch this wonderful action thriller which has no moment which will want you turn back and exit.

Release date: 31st March 2017
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Rupert Sanders
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Juliette Binoche, Michael Carmen Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han, Peter Ferdinando, Danusia Samal, Kaori Momoi, Lasarus Ratuere, Anamaria Marinca, Michael Wincott, Yutaka Izumihara, Tawanda Manyimo, Daniel Henshall, Rila Fukushima, Pete Teo, Yuta Kazama, Chris Obi, Adwoa Aboah, Tricky

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Man of Steel

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Behold this moment, for this is that period of time when our childhood superhero, the most popular one of that time, would seem to be someone else when we look at the name of the movie which features him, but then we realize that he is still Superman.  He is the Man of Steel, as Batman is the Dark Knight, both rises and without any doubt, both would end. Both have changed and evolved so much that one can no longer use the common joke about Superman and Batman, what differentiates them from the common man without superpowers is the way they make the underwear into outerwear; for The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel no longer comes with the same, may be they found it incredibly difficult to find one, or in more modern terms, it doesn’t suit the new generation of so called stylish people who despite their own traditions in every possible way.  It is still good that they have learnt that what is to be worn inside should remain inside.  Actually, they are both not the superheroes who continue the legacy, as they move out of it.  Another thing is about this Steel Man and the Iron Man; considering the success of the Man of Iron, may be Man of Steel can make an impact close to enough to it, at least with the adults who still think Superman is a little childish, and with no doubts, too powerful for anyone to like. So, this is a new superhuman, as the alien takes a turn at the road not taken except for Christopher Nolan’s Batman.

This movie begins in another solar system, another galaxy, which might be strange for a superhero movie, as it is not usually expected unless the protagonist is He-Man of Eternia with all the focus on Castle Grayskull. But, this is a change which works quite well. We see that when the planet Krypton is facing total annihilation due to an unstable core, Jor-El and his wife Lara launch a small spaceship carrying their newborn son Kal-El and a genetic codex. Zod arrives in time, but fails to stop the launch; in rage, he murders Jor-El, but is captured, and he and his supporters are imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, a prison which holds its prisoners who suffer for almost eternity, thus serving as a device for damnation beyond the control of Satan. But they manage to escape when Krypton explodes and their control over the jail is gone. They travel around different planets looking for life as well as things to salvage. Meanwhile, Kal-El lands on Earth and is discovered by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who name him Clark and raise him as their son. So, the Earth’s location and its peculiarities provide the kid with superhuman abilities, which he manages to control with the help of his foster parents. This is where Superman begins his second phase, and the first known phase of this whole sequence of origins.

Living a wanderer’s life fearing for his own power and the possible reaction of the people of Earth about his strength and abilities, he finds a Kryptonian spaceship fron under the ice and meets the hologram of his own father which explains to him more about himself and his origins. The Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane comes to know about the same, but decides not to publish about him without his consent. Meanwhile, Zod finds his existence and comes to Earth with his followers and it is where the twist of fate takes place and the fun begins with the life or death situations, not just for Superman, but also for all Earthlings, all threatened by the superior technology and weapons of the Kryptonians as well as their superhuman strength on Earth. As he plans to terraform Earth and make it another Krypton, eradicating the whole population and replacing them with the Kryptonians with the help of the genetic codex, Superman chooses the side with which he is not supposed to get along despite his own evolution, that is humans. This is the choice which will define him in what is to come, as he is the alien, ghost as well as the guardian angel. With the help of the military and whatever is on his side, he has to prepare for the final battle, as the Kryptonians launch a world engine which terraforms the planet.

I guess Zack Snyder’s movies have never really disappointed me it, as Dawn of the Dead was good, Watchmen was even better, 300 was very impressive, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole had my attention, Sucker Punch was much above the expectations, and here is Man of Steel which raises the expectations for the upcoming 300: Rise of an Empire for which it is incredibly difficult to wait. That should be a hundred percent record which is not seemingly inclined towards being broken. To add to it, the Greek hero of Immortals & the fairy tale princess-to-be from Enchanted make such a genuine combination on-screen even between such complexity and duality which surround an extraterrestrial heritage of thirty three years. Henry Cavill makes that super impact while Amy Adams as Lois Lane makes that character much more dearer to the viewers. Princess Giselle or Amelia Earheart from Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian will now be more of Lois Lane, and that less known Theseus surely has a more powerful real demi-god status this time. But this Superman is not just any other alien, as he is more human than any of the most wretched Earthling. He is more concerned about Earth and human life than the average common man who feeds on his own people and the mother nature. Superman is less involved with that title “super” which is a relief, as it is that word which one uses as a lie when many other words fail; welcome relief again.

As the movie is more inclined towards the Dark Knight series in its theme, but still resembles The Avengers in its alien invasion sequences, there is more to look forward to. Michael Shannon plays the impressive villain, General Zod – an iconic supervillain for sure. The villain is made for what he does, as the newborn babies are all created to be someone; to follow a path or duty – there is no moment when the person looks less focused on the one aim which is the return of Krypton’s life. It is more of a reflection of the current age, when the children are programmed into professional courses, rather than letting them make a choice. The result is just a profit-oriented world without morality and values, slowly moving towards total annihilation as in the case of Krypton. Antje Traue as Faora makes the villain’s sidekick, may be even as good as the General himself. Going back to her role in Pandorum, she is that person one might wish to watch in most of the action movies. Her fight sequence with Superman can be considered second only to the final battle. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, the editor in chief of the Daily Planet, is that role which is surely going to be explored a lot in case of a sequel. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane plays the roles of Superman’s adoptive parents, and Russel Crowe and Ayelet Zurer his real parents from Krypton, providing some of the best emotional moments of the movie.

The movie is about choices, as Superman chooses to be human and not of his kind, and also chooses to hide between the people with whom he doesn’t belong. He also chooses to end his planet’s last hope of survival by helping the Earthlings. That might have brought the end of his culture and heritage, and all those which he could have achieved as the hero of his own race. In all these decisions, he makes him the most vulnerable, more mentally than physically. Superman is more of a man than the super being, something we could never associate with him during our childhood. Right now, it will be just right to say that he has made himself the most righteous superhero, many times better than Iron Man, and also above his nearest competitors who are Batman and Spider-Man. Well, this is set to break box-office records for sure, and it is already pulling in too much crowd at this part of the world even for those shows which are usually not even a quarter full. The lower critical ratings of this movie compared to the ones like The Avengers and Iron Man 3 forms another thing which is out of this world. The former has such ratings that even Superman might decide to choose any random Kryptonite prison for eternity rather than seeing these one-sided opinions which so many people are actually forced to believe. The movie also proves this dialogue from Kill Bill wrong: “Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he’s Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman.” Superman became superman because Earth made him so; he was nothing at Krypton. Everybody has life molded by choices, whether it is Superman, Count Dracula, Batman or Skeletor, and it is faith, belief and hope that guides one side, and the exact opposites the other.

So, Man of Steel is a must watch for all action fans, as this genesis go back to the planet of Krypton with stunning visuals and powerful sound effects. There is still the emotional element which has not let go; not yet. The effect of The Dark Knight series is also something which seems to hide, but still stays there. The action sequences are breath-taking, and one can see how well one superhero does all that the whole team in The Avengers could barely manage to do – some might disagree, and they can have enough reasons for that. Here is the man who can smash and also get beaten up like the Hulk and Thor, be aggressive and agile as the Iron Man, be righteous and true to the cause like Captain America, be as accurate as the Hawkeye, and be a better fighter than the Black Widow. This one has won the battle of superheroes this year, as Iron Man 3 would surely have to take the backseat, not by a long distance though, for both would seem to belong to different genres as we consider the souls of them. Thor: The Dark World wouldn’t stand a chance as far as the things seem to be now. This is where you see the need for He-Man and The Phantom again, but this year has been booked by the alien from the other planet, and there is nothing to be done other than to watch this one and enjoy it.

Release date: 14th June 2013
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.