Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including Melissa McCarthy’s literary drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the “Hunt for Red October” copy cat “Hunter Killer,” the highfalutin hostage story “Bel Canto,” the comedic cautionary tale “Room for Rent,” the family drama “What They Had” and the operatic documentary “Maria by Callas.”
Richard has a look at Melissa McCarthy’s dramatic turn in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the family drama “What They Had” and Gerard Butler’s action-adventure “Hunter Killer” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
If there was ever more proof need to put Pablo Picasso’s remark, “good artists borrow, great artists steal,” to bed it’s the new Gerard Butler film. “Hunter Killer” borrows and out right steals elements from any number of movies, “The Hunt for Red October” chief among them, but is neither good nor great.
“Hunter Killer” takes place on land, on sea and on the phone. Based on the 2012 novel “Firing Point” by Don Keith and George Wallace “Hunter Killer” sees Butler as an unconventional US submarine Commander Joe Glass. He’s on a mission to find and rescue a missing U.S. sub when he stumbles across a popular 1990s plot twist—a Russian coup that threatens to demolish world order.
Stealthily cruising through enemy waters he becomes part of a three-pronged mission to rescue the Russian president, being held hostage in Russia by rogue Defence Minister Dmitri Durov (Mikhail Gorevoy). At sea level are Navy Seals led by Bill Beaman (Toby Stephens), National Security Agency analyst Jayne Norquist (Linda Cardellini), Rear Admiral John Fisk (Common), and, back home in America, Admiral Charles Donnegan (Gary Oldman in post-Oscar pay cheque mode) who barks orders at minions and into phones. It’s American-Russian collusion that could change the course of history!
Throw in a craggy-faced Russian submarine captain, Sergei Andropov (the late Michael Nyqvist)—we’re not enemies, we’re brothers—and you have a run-of-the-mill World War III scenario that was better the first few times we saw it. “It’s not about your side or my side,” Glass says to Andropov, “it’s about the future.”
“Hunter Killer” is so cheesy it should come with a side of saltines. Much of the dialogue sounds cribbed from the “Tough Guy ‘R Us” manual circa 1986—“He’s gonna play the hand he was dealt!”—spoken by characters so wooden they could easily double as buoys in the above water scenes.
At almost two hours ”Hunter Killer” is a waterlogged thriller, a sopping wet excuse for Butler to grunt his way through another film that is beneath his talent.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk about Melissa McCarthy’s literary drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the “Hunt for Red October” wannabe “Hunter Killer,” the highfalutin hostage story “Bel Canto,” the comedic cautionary tale “Room for Rent” and the Alzheimer’s dramedy “What They Had.”
A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Ghost in the Shell,” “The Boss Basby” and “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”
Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the reimagined sci fi classic “Ghost in the Shell,” Alec Baldwin as a bossy tot in “The Boss Baby” and Jessica Chastain in “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the reimagined sci fi classic “Ghost in the Shell,” Alec Baldwin as a bossy tot in “The Boss Baby” and Jessica Chastain in “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”
Can you steal someone’s life? It’s the question at the heart of “Ghost in the Shell,” in more ways than one.
Based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow, it centers around a woman, played by Scarlett Johansson, rescued by scientists at AI robots manufacturer Hanka Robotics and turned into a weaponized cyber-human. “Your body was damaged,” says Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche). “We couldn’t save it, only your brain survived.” Named The Major (more on that later) after her cerebral salvage she leads task force Section 9 who take down cyber terrorists and hackers by any means necessary. “We saved you,” continues Dr. Ouelet, “and now you save others.” The life the Major once knew is over but as the doctor says, “Your mind, your soul and your ghost, that’s still in there.”
On another level “The Ghost in the Shell” steals away the essence of itskmain character. The Major, or Major Motoko Kusanagi as she was referred to in the 1989 manga series and beyond, is a Japanese character in this case being played by the very western Johansson. Director Rupert Sanders dismisses the whitewashing criticism saying, “I feel that [Johansson] channelled the Major better than anyone else I could have thought of. She was my first choice and remains my first choice. She’s the best actress of my generation and her generation and the person I felt most embodied the physicality and the ability to inhabit that role.”
I think Sanders forgot to insert the word “bankable” in there somewhere.
I’m not suggesting that Johansson isn’t a talented actor or capable of pulling off believable and exciting action scenes. In movies like “Lucy” and “Captain America: Civil War” she has credibly occupied the action space, bringing both toughness and acting chops to her roles. That’s not at issue. What is at issue here is that the character is decidedly Japanese. As a human brain in an entirely synthetic body, she is far from, as Johansson claims, “identity-less.” In fact she is the very embodiment of a culture’s fascination with technology and how that technology interacts with humankind. In this case the technology actually becomes human, or perhaps it’s the other way round. Either way, the cyberpunk heroine is a key figure in Asian science fiction and the new “Ghost in the Shell” conveniently ignores that fact.
More thought has been put into creating the world The Major interacts with. A mix of the original anime, “Minority Report,” and “Robocop” with a taste of “Blade Runner” and “The Matrix” thrown in for completists, it’s a sleek near future environment, dense with activity, like in New York City and Hong Kong had a baby.
It is also a place where it’s now possible to control people by hacking directly into their minds. To combat this invasion of the mind, the Major and Co. have their sights set on Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt), a shadowy cyber terrorist who is targeting Hanka scientists. Complicating the mission are nagging memories of The Major’s former life that manifest themselves through a glitch in her wiring. She sees strange visions, sort of sensory echoes that hint at memories just out of reach. They are the ghost in the shell. She’s sort of like a high tech Jason Bourne, deadly with little recall of the past. “Who are you?” asks a woman who may or may not be The Major’s mother. “I don’t know,” Maj says with a faraway look.
To get to the bottom of the artificial intelligence technology conspiracy that landed her with Handa Robotics, The Major goes rogue. “They created me,” she says, “but they cannot control me.”
One of the most popular Japanese animated series of all time, “Ghost in the Shell” is a beautiful looking movie, which, like its main character, is in search of its soul. Director Rupert Sanders has an extraordinary eye, whether he is visualizing the hacking of The Major’s mind, creating a nightmarish nightclub sequence or bringing surreal cityscapes complete with video statues and future world architecture to vivid life. The movie is never less that entertaining for the eye, passing the time in a wild swirl of colour and movement.
It’s a shame the story isn’t as entertaining. Filtered through a Hollywood lens, what was once a seminal work of cyber punk is reduced to a superhero origin story with action scenes aplenty. Most are beautifully staged even though the odd shot feels like out takes from an upcoming Black Widow spin off.
Johansson pulls off the cold efficiency of a machine tempered with emerging human feelings. She’s a killing machine but never more human than when she explores what it feels like to be flesh and blood, not synthetics and wires. Its territory she’s tread before, most notably and more effectively in “Under the Skin” but it’s an otherworldliness that suits the role.
Binoche as the empathetic AI specialist and mother figure is terrific and the legendary ‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano isn’t given much to do, but does it with aplomb.
“Ghost in the Shell” is a gorgeous looking film that will engage the eye but not the brain.