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"Ghost in the Shell 2.0" Blu-ray Review

I originally reviewed this Blu-ray six years ago and dug it out to refresh myself in preparation for this weekend's arrival of the controversial live-action ScarJo version and upon second viewing I'm finding that 1995's anime classic Ghost in the Shell is a tad overhyped. People remember the iconic action sequences or the shocking (robo) nudity or the haunting score, but lost in the reminiscences are the fact that the plot makes little sense and there's way too much philosophy dumping going on.

The opening thermoptic camo scene makes the Major look like an assassin, not a cop. All the nattering about the "ghost" maybe being or not being the human soul is half-baked and the political chicanery and investigative work to detect possibly illegally cloaked people who then never are revealed is just confusing.

The biggest stink over the casting of ScarJo is that it fed the SJW outrage pimps another example of "whitewashing" (in which evil disgusting white actors are playing roles believed the sole property of "People of Color"), but as with so much anime, there is nothing Asian about Major Motoko Kusinagi other than her super Japanese name and since her body is robotic and her appearance manufactured, what makes her "Asian" to the point it requires racially-specific casting? (FWIW, I would've gone with Rinko Kikuchi from Pacific Rim.)

While the original Ghost in the Shell remains something self-respecting cinephiles should see, it will be interesting to see how this live-action version, which reportedly takes elements from both theatrical films and the Stand Alone Complex series and blends the philosophical angles with the need for sci-fi shooty-shoot action.

Score: 6/10. Rent it.

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"The Assignment" Review

When I saw the trailer (below) for The Assignment I wondered what the heck it was supposed to be. Within five minutes, I could tell it was going to be some Biblical level of suckage, but perverse curiosity as to why this cast was involved in this mess kept be going. Ugh. The things I do for my readers.

As the trailer lays out, M.Rod plays a hitMAN who was given an involuntary sex change as revenge for killing Sigourney Weaver's brother. What's not shown is the framing device for this tale - Tony Shaloub's psychiatrist character conducting an evaluation on Weaver's doctor which opens with them spewing some of the worst Basil Exposition dialog ever committed to digital video (can't say film anymore, right?) and immediately making one wonder if the all shared the same agent who lost a bet and had to force his clients into this weird mess?

As it trudges through it's allegedly shocking tale of revenge - since half of it is told in present day narrating flashbacks, there's never a doubt as to who survives - it never rises above it's thin premise. But the actors commit to the dreck fully, though I couldn't stop wondering why they accepted the gig. Yes, co-writer and director Walter Hill produced Weaver's Alien movies and had some notable flicks 35-40 years ago(!), but I don't get it and pondering that helped get through this.

There's a minor reveal at the end, but things hinted at meaning something like Weaver's wearing of men's suits never pay off. The only thing The Assignment will be remembered for is that Michelle Rodriguez made her nude debut after 17 years in the biz in her late-30s. But you'll be able to find that on the Internet and the context doesn't make it any better.

Score: 2/10. Skip it unless you are a perverse masochist who can't believe it's this bad.

If you're wondering why it's called Tomboy at the end, it's because it was also titled that and (Re)Assignment. When you can't settle on the title....

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