You know what it’s like. Marvel Comics hands you one of the their B-teams and tells you to go make a movie. It’s a surprise smash, and now they want a sequel…
This is often where the trouble starts, and that’s why I can count on one hand the number of sequels that are better than the original. Fortunately, the director of Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t get a god complex and jet off on a wild tangent to find his artistic centre; nope, he looked carefully at what made his first outing such a huge success and then delivered exactly the same … only more so.
If you’re familiar with the Manga classic of the same name, then there’s not much in this film that is going to surprise you, and this is a good thing. It’s pretty much the same story: at some unspecified point in the future, humans enhancing themselves with cybernetic body parts has become the norm. The mysterious Hanka Corporation has taken the notion one step further: a completely artificial body piloted by a human brain.
Now, taking a classic piece of Manga fiction and turning it into a Westernised action flick is always going to be a “swings and roundabouts” proposition. The advantage is that you have a classic story to work with. The disadvantage is … that you have a classic story to work with. As long as you stick to the original plot and keep most of the classic set pieces from the original, then the fans will give your efforts a grudging approval at the very least, and thunderous applause if you’re very lucky (or very good). The problem is that something that is essentially a cartoon may not translate well into a live action movie. Ghost in the Shell gets away with it … just. They’ve changed enough of the sequence to make it worthwhile for the affeciandos to see it, but kept enough of the original to delight them. Not bad, not bad at all. Continue reading “Film review: Ghost in the Shell”
So you leave comics for a few years, come back and everything’s changed, and not necessarily for the better. I’ve been a fan of Spider-man since… well, since I was younger than he is now. In the good old days, Peter Parker bumbled through life, jobs, education, ulcers, women, other superheroes and a whole raft of unlikely villains who, truth told, should have cleaned his clock at every outing. Still, being possessed of weird powers derived from a creepy-crawly, a genius-level intellect (his own hard work, not a mutation or the after-effect of being bitten by a radioactive Stephen Hawking) was enough to dispatch enemies with fearsome names like The Rhino, the Scorpion, Doctor Octopus, and the somewhat less fearsome Tinkerer; there was even a super-villain called The Fly; things were never going to end well for that fella.
Yup, the good old days.
Fast forward a few years, after the wilderness period of high literature and arty hats, and I’m back reading comics, and Spider-man has changed beyond all recognition. Well, I say ‘all recognition’, but that’s not strictly true. I do recognise him: he looks a lot like Batman.