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Review: Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell
03.30.2017
5 10

PLOT: The Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the field commander of an anti-terrorist unit called Section 9. Possessing an artificial body but a human brain, she and her upgraded cohorts hunt a mysterious cyber-terrorist, Kuze (Michael Pitt) who’s attempting to dismantle the robotics firm that created The Major’s body, and, presumably, saved her life.

REVIEW: I must preface this by saying that I’ve never seen the animated GHOST IN THE SHELL, although I’ve heard plenty about it over-the-years, with many calling it one of the best anime, and certainly, Hollywood has been trying to do its own version for awhile. Yet, their mega-budget effort has already drawn the ire of fans due to the perceived whitewashing of the major roles, a valid criticism, although this isn’t the first time something like this has happened, and it won’t be the last.

So how is the actual film? Truth be told, despite the controversy I was keen on seeing this, being a fan of both Johansson, and director Rupert Sanders’s style, something which distinguished SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN somewhat and was badly missing from the sequel. Sad to say though, despite some interesting visuals Sanders’s film is wafer-thin, playing more like a bad cyberpunk thriller a la JOHNNY MNEMONIC (right down to the bored Takeshi Kitano performance) than the cutting-edge thriller fans of the original might have expected.

It boggles the mind that the studio sunk so much into a movie and then allowed it to go out in such a dramatically inert form, with flavorless, dull action scenes, a languid pace (it feels far longer than it’s relatively economical 106 minutes) and an odd performance from Johansson, that feels like a riff on her much-better UNDER THE SKIN.

Given that she’s playing, to some extent, a robot, Johansson’s stiff performance can be excused, but having a humorless, unemotional lead as the film’s anchor means it becomes an ordeal. There’s no spunk or levity whatsoever, which is a shame as Johansson has much promise as an action heroine. It’s just an ill-conceived piece of miscasting on her part, but she’s far from the thing that torpedos the film. No one else fares any better, from Pilou Asbaek as her sidekick, Batou, to a slumming Juliette Binoche, to Peter Ferdinando, who was amazing in the indie thriller HYENA, as the generic suit sending Johansson on missions.

Only Michael Pitt seems to be having fun as the cyborg Kuze, who’s like a living Max Headroom from hell. If the movie at least had some of that kind of energy it would have been salvageable. Instead, Sanders seems like he’s trying to make BLADE RUNNER, something he doesn’t have the substance for. There are some nice shots and CGI, and the score by Clint Mansell and Lorne Balfe is better than the film itself, but overall this is a total bore. None of the action scenes have anything that distinguishes them at all, with chaotic editing and choreography, something especially notable with this coming out so soon after the beautifully executed JOHN WICK 2 or the brutal LOGAN.

Which brings me back to the whitewashing, and the clumsy way the filmmakers try to acknowledge it. It ranks as one of the most ill-advised movie decisions since the makers of REMEMBER ME tried to use 9/11 as a shock plot device - and is already sending Twitter abuzz now that embargo has broken. But, to those of you unconcerned with that, I can still say, even if you haven’t got any problems at all with the way it’s been cast, GHOST IN THE SHELL is a total bore. The anime should have been left alone, and this should be a cautionary tale the next time anyone thinks about making a live action AKIRA.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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10:06AM on 04/06/2017
So it's ok to hate on someone for being white? It's American made movie, America is 70%, when making a product, you are going to appeal to the largest demographic. Besides it was a FEMALE led action movie, and it was a good action movie. Stop with making race about everything bs. [link]
So it's ok to hate on someone for being white? It's American made movie, America is 70%, when making a product, you are going to appeal to the largest demographic. Besides it was a FEMALE led action movie, and it was a good action movie. Stop with making race about everything bs. [link]
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-1
10:31AM on 04/01/2017
I went in giving it the benefit of the doubt. It featured a hot mostly almost naked Scarlet Johansson so it couldn't be half bad right?
No, it's really really bad. Amazingly bad.
The basic tenants of fimaking are lacking. Bizarre editing and pacing, No music whatsoever but the occasional long sustained note. It looks like it's not even a finished product.
The dialog is groan out loud bad. It's based on a cartoon and they kept cartoon dialogue in a live action film.
Joyless, mechanical, and
I went in giving it the benefit of the doubt. It featured a hot mostly almost naked Scarlet Johansson so it couldn't be half bad right?
No, it's really really bad. Amazingly bad.
The basic tenants of fimaking are lacking. Bizarre editing and pacing, No music whatsoever but the occasional long sustained note. It looks like it's not even a finished product.
The dialog is groan out loud bad. It's based on a cartoon and they kept cartoon dialogue in a live action film.
Joyless, mechanical, and stupid is one thing, that's every Michael Bay movie, but at least his movies are well put together.
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2:04PM on 03/31/2017

I liked it.

It was no masterpiece, but being a fan of the original anime, I think it did a pretty good job of capturing the essence of it. For me, the most disappointing thing was Clint Mansell's score. I've been a fan of his since his PWEI days, but I found this score underwhelming. It deserves far better than 5/10 Chris.
It was no masterpiece, but being a fan of the original anime, I think it did a pretty good job of capturing the essence of it. For me, the most disappointing thing was Clint Mansell's score. I've been a fan of his since his PWEI days, but I found this score underwhelming. It deserves far better than 5/10 Chris.
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1:10PM on 03/31/2017

The best anime adaptation to this date 7.5/10

Ghost in the Shell Live Action Movie, is proof, that an adaptation can have respect and love for the original, do it's own thing, and still manage to be successful. The complexities of the original anime movie, was NEVER gonna translate well to Western audiences and main stream movie goers tend to get bored and confused easily. So while this adaptation doesn't have the deep philosophical tones of the original, it was easy to follow and I enjoyed more, as it went along. With jaw dropping
Ghost in the Shell Live Action Movie, is proof, that an adaptation can have respect and love for the original, do it's own thing, and still manage to be successful. The complexities of the original anime movie, was NEVER gonna translate well to Western audiences and main stream movie goers tend to get bored and confused easily. So while this adaptation doesn't have the deep philosophical tones of the original, it was easy to follow and I enjoyed more, as it went along. With jaw dropping effects and a very strong final act, I agree totally with Matthew Bailey. You aren't gonna find an existing live action adaptation of an anime movie, anywhere else, that is better than this one. 7.5/10.
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12:37PM on 03/31/2017
Commenters who keep saying that the reviewer need to watch the source material should also rewatch the anime and see how much Hollywood changed the core of the character. Preferring a Caucasian body is not the same as being forced into one. Major Motoko Kusanagi as in the anime and manga was a character unconcerned of who she was, but someone who questions what she might have or will become. At best, the movie serve as an unnecessary prequel to her appearance in the anime. Even then, they could
Commenters who keep saying that the reviewer need to watch the source material should also rewatch the anime and see how much Hollywood changed the core of the character. Preferring a Caucasian body is not the same as being forced into one. Major Motoko Kusanagi as in the anime and manga was a character unconcerned of who she was, but someone who questions what she might have or will become. At best, the movie serve as an unnecessary prequel to her appearance in the anime. Even then, they could have taken the issue further and address the fact that some white corporate a-holes stole these children's identities as well as their cultural heritage and turn them into things they didn't identify with. They could have focused more on that. As comparison, Metal Gear Solid V brought the same issue with the character Skullface as a man robbed out of his identity through language and later his whole appearance. But no, instead of being thought provoking the movie was content to be just a mediocre scifi romp which at times feels like just a slightly more expensive version of Lucy.
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8:32AM on 03/31/2017
Chris Bumbray was fine touching on the whitewashing. Major Motoko Kusanagi was never originally white. This BS about her being white is probably from one of the many later iterations of Ghost In The Shell. Even in one of the later anime Motoko along with 2 others of her squad are referred to as a "Japs" by an American soldier. The original movie Motoko has a generic body resembling the population, which she runs into others having the same body a few times throughout GITS. When the movie first
Chris Bumbray was fine touching on the whitewashing. Major Motoko Kusanagi was never originally white. This BS about her being white is probably from one of the many later iterations of Ghost In The Shell. Even in one of the later anime Motoko along with 2 others of her squad are referred to as a "Japs" by an American soldier. The original movie Motoko has a generic body resembling the population, which she runs into others having the same body a few times throughout GITS. When the movie first comes on the text states that, even with the advancement of computers, "nations" and "ethnic groups" still exist. Meaning Japan is still Japan and American is still America. There are white people in the original movie and they are distinctively draw to look white. They are distinctively different than Major Motoko Kusanagi. Also the Puppet Master, who is stated to be American, when creating his body he choose blonde hair and blonde eyebrows. Now regardless of all this, the movie is shit because they went with some generic storyline instead of the heart of GITS: existentialism and singularity along with a few other themes.
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+2
11:05PM on 03/30/2017

JOBLO please get someone who is a fan of GITS to do a Review please

Wont touch on the Whitewashing because, i think its absurd anyone who hasn't watched the anime or any source material should make a comment about it. But i will say that this movie was destined to fail as soon as Scarlett was casted, I'm sorry I've said it before.. i truly do not see what any of you guys see in her. She can not act, she was not right for this roll... I will wait for a second review (hopefully) before i decide on spending 30$ on this at the theatre.
Wont touch on the Whitewashing because, i think its absurd anyone who hasn't watched the anime or any source material should make a comment about it. But i will say that this movie was destined to fail as soon as Scarlett was casted, I'm sorry I've said it before.. i truly do not see what any of you guys see in her. She can not act, she was not right for this roll... I will wait for a second review (hopefully) before i decide on spending 30$ on this at the theatre.
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7:53AM on 03/31/2017
Yeah, with zero knowledge of the source material, he cannot say one way or another if this film whitewashed.
Yeah, with zero knowledge of the source material, he cannot say one way or another if this film whitewashed.
10:06PM on 03/30/2017

Regarding the whitewashing

Hollywood isn't Japan. I'm against all kind of swapping - race or gender - because I think a character's race is part of its identity. Still, one must admit that making an expensive sci-fi set in Japan and starring a Japanese actress doesn't make a whole lot of sense for an American film . Maybe Hollywood should just stay away from remaking Asian movies.
Hollywood isn't Japan. I'm against all kind of swapping - race or gender - because I think a character's race is part of its identity. Still, one must admit that making an expensive sci-fi set in Japan and starring a Japanese actress doesn't make a whole lot of sense for an American film . Maybe Hollywood should just stay away from remaking Asian movies.
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10:20PM on 03/30/2017
Motoko Kusanagi Ghost still attach this adaptation GHOST IN THE SHELL - but if iam open and explained it on comment - it will SPOILER
so actually is not white washing it just different story on origin , the adaption of superhero on tv or movie is more many races swapping
Motoko Kusanagi Ghost still attach this adaptation GHOST IN THE SHELL - but if iam open and explained it on comment - it will SPOILER
so actually is not white washing it just different story on origin , the adaption of superhero on tv or movie is more many races swapping
10:20PM on 03/30/2017
Motoko Kusanagi Ghost still attach this adaptation GHOST IN THE SHELL - but if iam open and explained it on comment - it will SPOILER
so actually is not white washing it just different story on origin , the adaption of superhero on tv or movie is more many races swapping
Motoko Kusanagi Ghost still attach this adaptation GHOST IN THE SHELL - but if iam open and explained it on comment - it will SPOILER
so actually is not white washing it just different story on origin , the adaption of superhero on tv or movie is more many races swapping
10:00PM on 03/30/2017

I watching it Yesterday with my girlfrined - in bali

Love it, definitely collect the bluray - " sanders not trying to make blade runner", the anime is always like that except the name of major and the origin of major.
the anime or manga - always many talking...corruption government, little action....same like the movie. if you watch it with negative thinking (white washing problem) , it will cloudy your mind on "how beautiful this movie"....they really great on recapture the felling on GHOST IN THE SHELL adaptation. Its not great movie but
Love it, definitely collect the bluray - " sanders not trying to make blade runner", the anime is always like that except the name of major and the origin of major.
the anime or manga - always many talking...corruption government, little action....same like the movie. if you watch it with negative thinking (white washing problem) , it will cloudy your mind on "how beautiful this movie"....they really great on recapture the felling on GHOST IN THE SHELL adaptation. Its not great movie but still GOOD MOVIE, at least thousand better than bridesmaids, Ghostbusters (2016), or suicide squad .
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4:07PM on 03/30/2017

Tired of all this hippie PC BS

Terrible review, tired of the whitewashing PC bull crap. I am a male in the target group that this movie is trying to appeal to and Scarlet Jo appeals to me more than some unknown Asian actor. Get over yourself hippie!
Terrible review, tired of the whitewashing PC bull crap. I am a male in the target group that this movie is trying to appeal to and Scarlet Jo appeals to me more than some unknown Asian actor. Get over yourself hippie!
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2:17PM on 03/30/2017

Ugh, what a soulless movie...

How could they make GHOST IN THE SHELL so fucking boring? It's like they kept repeating the title a million times over trying to prove that its an adaptation but it just got lost in boring action scenes. The visuals were amazing in the city but that's about it. The movie is out shined by the fucking director of photography.
How could they make GHOST IN THE SHELL so fucking boring? It's like they kept repeating the title a million times over trying to prove that its an adaptation but it just got lost in boring action scenes. The visuals were amazing in the city but that's about it. The movie is out shined by the fucking director of photography.
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2:11PM on 03/30/2017

Why is reading the source material mandatory?

All ya'll giving Chris a bad time because he couldn't address the whitewashing issue from a standpoint of someone who has been fully briefed on the source material [link] Your average movie goer has not only NOT seen the original, but has definitely NOT read any source material. So, is he supposed to go at this as a purist or as a typical person? I saw this anime in college ages ago. It was Ok. But, anime is not my cup o' tea anyway.
I was mostly looking forward to this because of the
All ya'll giving Chris a bad time because he couldn't address the whitewashing issue from a standpoint of someone who has been fully briefed on the source material [link] Your average movie goer has not only NOT seen the original, but has definitely NOT read any source material. So, is he supposed to go at this as a purist or as a typical person? I saw this anime in college ages ago. It was Ok. But, anime is not my cup o' tea anyway.
I was mostly looking forward to this because of the visual style. It never looked like the second coming of the Matrix, so matinee eye candy is where this fits. I'm disappointed with the rating, but something tells me it might be a tad better than described.
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7:51AM on 03/31/2017
The thing is, though, whitewashing is a phenomenon in Hollywood where a character that is supposed to be non-white is played by a white actor. The character in this movie is actually supposed to appear white, so this is not a case of whitewashing, which is a very real thing in Hollywood, just not in this case. Being an outsider is fine, but you need to at least look up the source material to make sure you are levying a legitimate criticism with something like this.
The thing is, though, whitewashing is a phenomenon in Hollywood where a character that is supposed to be non-white is played by a white actor. The character in this movie is actually supposed to appear white, so this is not a case of whitewashing, which is a very real thing in Hollywood, just not in this case. Being an outsider is fine, but you need to at least look up the source material to make sure you are levying a legitimate criticism with something like this.
11:15AM on 03/30/2017
The character is supposed to appear white. Also isn't the character supposed to be a man? I remember that being hinted at.
The character is supposed to appear white. Also isn't the character supposed to be a man? I remember that being hinted at.
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1:28PM on 03/30/2017
No, she's not. Her mind might be, but definitely a woman's body.
No, she's not. Her mind might be, but definitely a woman's body.
2:20PM on 03/30/2017
in the end the puppet master (male voice) merges with her - so she becomes something different, but she is always in a female body (even the puppet master was in a female body)
in the end the puppet master (male voice) merges with her - so she becomes something different, but she is always in a female body (even the puppet master was in a female body)
+1
10:09AM on 03/30/2017
im not concerned with the whitewashing - see luke and jedite's comments.
i am a fan of the anime and i have seen the first 2 films and stand alone complex season 1.
(i also own every GITS anime there is to own - even though i havent seen them all yet)
i am worried that this movie is just about the major turning on section 9 - which i dont like - and i dont know for sure if that was ever a plot point in any of the anime/manga that came after SAC. It always seemed to me that she enjoyed
im not concerned with the whitewashing - see luke and jedite's comments.
i am a fan of the anime and i have seen the first 2 films and stand alone complex season 1.
(i also own every GITS anime there is to own - even though i havent seen them all yet)
i am worried that this movie is just about the major turning on section 9 - which i dont like - and i dont know for sure if that was ever a plot point in any of the anime/manga that came after SAC. It always seemed to me that she enjoyed working for them etc. In the original anime she questions the meaning of life and the soul and the puppet master was the main focus and if he/she was alive or not. I dont want a dumb action movie.
I would even argue that using the laughing man story would be better. anyway, i havent seen the movie so i will judge after that, just some thoughts.
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10:05AM on 03/30/2017

And you wonder why

This clown gave Ghostbusters an 8/10? Lol, he actually said "whitewashing." What a complete joke. Know the source material before making such a stupid comment Mr. SJW.
This clown gave Ghostbusters an 8/10? Lol, he actually said "whitewashing." What a complete joke. Know the source material before making such a stupid comment Mr. SJW.
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7:48AM on 03/31/2017
JoBlo writers used to keep their politics completely out of this site. Sadly, management seems to have gotten much more relaxed with that. Movie needs to be judged objectively, meaning one's own personal views need to be left out of the equation as much as possible.
JoBlo writers used to keep their politics completely out of this site. Sadly, management seems to have gotten much more relaxed with that. Movie needs to be judged objectively, meaning one's own personal views need to be left out of the equation as much as possible.
10:02AM on 03/30/2017

The whitewashing controversy brings up the age old question, if uniformley stupid people are offended by something does that make it offensive?"

Look I haven't seen the original I know nothing about it. I do no that aside from the things listed below, the central charecter is a Fucking ROBOT. Meaning people are offended that the charecter who is not even human doesn't fit thier preffered nationality. It's also abundently clear that the people complaining aren't familiar with the source material but simply go with the same racist ideology prompting the Iron Fist criticisms, if it takes place in Asia or has something vaugley Asian about
Look I haven't seen the original I know nothing about it. I do no that aside from the things listed below, the central charecter is a Fucking ROBOT. Meaning people are offended that the charecter who is not even human doesn't fit thier preffered nationality. It's also abundently clear that the people complaining aren't familiar with the source material but simply go with the same racist ideology prompting the Iron Fist criticisms, if it takes place in Asia or has something vaugley Asian about it the main charecter has to be Asian. As If white people can't learn martial arts or live in Japan.

Anyway I might see it. Looks cool and I wan't it to break the bank out of spite. Maybe I'll just watch the anime first.
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8:52AM on 03/30/2017
If it were me reviewing this movie, first thing I would do was watch the original so I had some basis for comparison. That just makes sense.
If it were me reviewing this movie, first thing I would do was watch the original so I had some basis for comparison. That just makes sense.
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+0
8:15AM on 03/30/2017
I wasnt sure if I would catch this in theaters or not and with this review its a bit disheartening but did not know Clint Mansell did the score and he makes anything 10 times more watchable. Think I might actually check this out.
I wasnt sure if I would catch this in theaters or not and with this review its a bit disheartening but did not know Clint Mansell did the score and he makes anything 10 times more watchable. Think I might actually check this out.
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3:54AM on 03/30/2017
I think it's a solid scifi action film, and some of the set pieces and visual effects were fantastic. It might even be an okay adaptation of the manga. But if we were to compare between this movie and Mamoru Oshii's masterpiece anime, it feels watered down and makes no lasting impression whatsoever. The revelation about her racial origin would have been a compelling and thought provoking twist, but the movie failed to broaden the subject further and it quickly become such a mediocre action
I think it's a solid scifi action film, and some of the set pieces and visual effects were fantastic. It might even be an okay adaptation of the manga. But if we were to compare between this movie and Mamoru Oshii's masterpiece anime, it feels watered down and makes no lasting impression whatsoever. The revelation about her racial origin would have been a compelling and thought provoking twist, but the movie failed to broaden the subject further and it quickly become such a mediocre action movie after that. I'd say 5/10 is just about right.
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+6
3:06AM on 03/30/2017

Masamune Shirow, the writer of the manga has stated that he did not write The Major to be an Asian character and that he feels Scarlett Johansson was perfect casting

He's go further saying that the whitewashing controversy in non-existent in Japan because is Japan manga/anime characters are typically viewed as being racially ambiguous -- they're supposed to be able to pass as being either Asian or white so as to be able to equally appeal to both Japanese and American (or at least white American) audiences. He blames the American media for creating non-existent controversy for the sake of selling headlines when they clearly don't care about or are even
He's go further saying that the whitewashing controversy in non-existent in Japan because is Japan manga/anime characters are typically viewed as being racially ambiguous -- they're supposed to be able to pass as being either Asian or white so as to be able to equally appeal to both Japanese and American (or at least white American) audiences. He blames the American media for creating non-existent controversy for the sake of selling headlines when they clearly don't care about or are even passingly familiar with the actual source material they claim to be outraged over.
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+8
1:17AM on 03/30/2017
Bumbray clearly never read the source material. The manga clearly explains that Major Kusanagi preferred to use Caucasian / European bodies. The anime movies have touched on this as well. The live action movie wouldn't make any damn sense if they used an Asian actress for Major. Anyway, I read seven reviews for this movie tonight, and six of them were positive, and the seventh was Bumbray's shitty review. I don't count his review, because e clearly has some kind of weird liberal biased against
Bumbray clearly never read the source material. The manga clearly explains that Major Kusanagi preferred to use Caucasian / European bodies. The anime movies have touched on this as well. The live action movie wouldn't make any damn sense if they used an Asian actress for Major. Anyway, I read seven reviews for this movie tonight, and six of them were positive, and the seventh was Bumbray's shitty review. I don't count his review, because e clearly has some kind of weird liberal biased against the film for some made up whitewashing nonsense. There are 36 characters that get speaking lines in 'Ghost in the Shell', and 28 of them are Asian. That doesn't sound like whitewashing at all.
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7:45AM on 03/31/2017
This guy is usually more professional than this, but he clearly didn't research the source material before making these claims, and instead just went by what other media outlets were saying. Come on, Chris, you are usually more professional than that!
This guy is usually more professional than this, but he clearly didn't research the source material before making these claims, and instead just went by what other media outlets were saying. Come on, Chris, you are usually more professional than that!
12:57AM on 03/30/2017
Bumbray is an idiot. The Major is not supposed to be culturally specific. Her "shell" is even eluded to be Caucasian in the manga. Anyway, I just got out of a screening for this movie. My friend Paul manages an AMC theater, and he got me in to see it tonight. I liked the film, I prefer the 95 Anime, but the movie good nonetheless. I'd give it a 7.5 out 10....maybe even an 8. I really want to see it again, it's a gorgeous movie to look at. I really want to compare the 1995 anime and the live
Bumbray is an idiot. The Major is not supposed to be culturally specific. Her "shell" is even eluded to be Caucasian in the manga. Anyway, I just got out of a screening for this movie. My friend Paul manages an AMC theater, and he got me in to see it tonight. I liked the film, I prefer the 95 Anime, but the movie good nonetheless. I'd give it a 7.5 out 10....maybe even an 8. I really want to see it again, it's a gorgeous movie to look at. I really want to compare the 1995 anime and the live action film now.
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7:44AM on 03/31/2017
Can't comment on the rest of his review, but yeah, not doing your research regarding the source material before crying "whitewashing" means he didn't do his job as a film critic. He is usually more professional than that, so hopefully the negative feedback he is getting here will remind him to always do his homework before making any such controversial claims.
Can't comment on the rest of his review, but yeah, not doing your research regarding the source material before crying "whitewashing" means he didn't do his job as a film critic. He is usually more professional than that, so hopefully the negative feedback he is getting here will remind him to always do his homework before making any such controversial claims.
+0
12:52AM on 03/30/2017
Sorry to hear that it's so emotionally old. Ahh well.
Sorry to hear that it's so emotionally old. Ahh well.
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+8
12:50AM on 03/30/2017

Seriously, stop it.

Whitewashing is NOT a valid criticism here. If you are a real fan of this material or if you simply researched it - the claim is false. There are several nods throughout the productions of the animations and television versions that suggest she is designed to be not culturally specific. And the manga has her preferring European bodies (or shells).

Even if you ignore those facts, I didn't hear any criticisms of "The Departed" being all white. Because it's an American adaptation and so is
Whitewashing is NOT a valid criticism here. If you are a real fan of this material or if you simply researched it - the claim is false. There are several nods throughout the productions of the animations and television versions that suggest she is designed to be not culturally specific. And the manga has her preferring European bodies (or shells).

Even if you ignore those facts, I didn't hear any criticisms of "The Departed" being all white. Because it's an American adaptation and so is GITS, and with seemingly heavy Japanese nods. Re-fucking-lax people.
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