I had the displeasure of watching three films on a recent trip to Europe. Why did I opt for Power Rangers, Ghost in the Shell and Assassin’s Creed? Who the heck knows. I made it a point, however, to pick films that wouldn’t require a quiet, focused environment (I’d rather watch Lost City of Z at home versus on a plane with a bunch of distractions). So there I was, thousands of feet in the air over a large body of water with Ghost in the Shell queued. Boy, did I strike out three times with these three films.
Ghost in the Shell
Beautiful visuals were expected with director Rupert Sanders‘ take on the 1995 animated film with the same title. Set in a Neo Tokyo-type setting, this isn’t a difficult narrative to digest: Major (Scarlett Johansson) is a cyborg with a human mind and has become the first of her kind. Alongside her crime-fighting buddy Batou (Pilou Asbæk), the city is kept safe thanks to Section 9, a counter-terrorism unit. However, once Major begins to realize who exactly she is, things begin to go south.
That’s about it, and unfortunately, the narrative isn’t given justice by its shallow script. What Sanders wanted to deliver felt poorly executed. Often times I looked past Ghost‘s impressive visuals and noticed the in-betweens. I failed to connect with the film thanks to robotic acting (no pun intended) and forced dialogue. Granted, this isn’t the worst of the bunch on my Europe adventure, but that’s not saying much when taken as a standalone film. I guess now I can understand why this film, with a $110 million production budget, bombed at the box office ($169,801,921).
What’s worse is that the film seemingly never ends and, even though its not more than an hour and 47 minutes, the film drags through the mud when its predictable ending can be seen from a mile away. I don’t usually score films, but — whatever, let’s have fun.
Ghost in the Shell gets two cyborg kicks out of five.
Side note: Why, oh why, Turkish Airlines, do you blur out Major’s suit during the film? So distracting and unnecessary.
You know, I heard surprisingly decent things about Dean Israelite‘s Power Rangers. One friend and local critic told me it’s enjoyable albeit real cheesy — another best friend told me it’s a solid D on a grading scale.
UGH. Power Rangers: a TV show engrained in my childhood and a large part of my toy collection. I expected fun, enjoyable action sequences and everything else to be subpar. I was correct, but change subpar to borderline unwatchable. The back-and-forth, for instance, between Zack, the Black Ranger (Ludi Lin), and Trini, the Yellow Ranger (Becky G.), hurt my soul. Nothing about any type of interaction was believable, and it didn’t help that Zordon, voiced by Bryan Cranston, was reeled into this mess. This is one film that helps Cranston’s wallet and hurts his resume.
The best scenes were led by Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks). Banks delivered such a zany character on-screen and, hey, made the second half of the film enjoyable.
This is a CGI-fest led by the promise of a big brawl to cap off what was a film I wish I never sat through. It doesn’t help that they tease a sequel, which I wish would never be a reality. Alas, the box office speaks, even if it made only a hair past its production budget.
This gets two and a half Bill Haders out of five.
There’s no point in a clever lede: This film is trash dot com. Actors Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard should know better. This 2016 film, directed by Justin Kurzel (Macbeth), is a video game adaptation of the popular Ubisoft series, Assassin’s Creed. The early previews and trailers seemed promising for a film surrounding a rather complicated plot. But even Kurzel knew this film was doomed from the beginning.
Here’s the iMDB summary:
Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.
The premise is there, the source material is worth trying to adapt onto the Silver Screen but, dammit, did they drop the ball more than Amari Cooper’s 2017 campaign (NFL reference, y’all — I’ll be here all week). There are so many things wrong with this dumpster fire of a film, but for starters — where’s the consistency? Fassbender goes from level-headed to a manic patient singing songs that I guess are supposed to freak out the audience, but all it did was take you out of the plot. This film’s script is all over the place, with writers Michael Lesslie and Adam Cooper struggling to fit characters in certain roles. Somehow, we are bouncing between whether Cotillard’s a protagonist or antagonist.
Then there’s the time our lead man, Callum Lynch, spends in the Animus, which bridges those related to old Spaniard assassins into their relative’s time period. Goodness, did that read as bad as it sounded in my head? Here’s the thing, though: This film doesn’t even address the Animus properly. Us gamers know the Animus is a machine used akin to an MRI machine. Here, in this film, we get Fassbender jumping up and down on a crane that throws you into the air countless amounts of times. And too often do we break away from the action in Spain to show again that, yes, Fassbender is using the Animus! JUST KEEP US IN THE ACTION! How hard is that?
Very hard, apparently, which is why this failure of a film was given one and a half stars out of five, but on second thought …
One star. One measly star only because some of the assassin kill scenes were OK and also because I ate warm bread during some of this mess.