What movies have you been watching? Including Ghost in the Shell, Guardians of the Galaxy – Volume 2 and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell (2017)

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you each week what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching. TMINE recommends has all the reviews of all the TV shows TMINE has ever recommended, but for a complete list of TMINE’s reviews of (good, bad and insipid) TV shows and movies, there’s the definitive TV Reviews A-Z and Film Reviews A-Z. But it’s what you have you been watching? So tell us – if you want to live

This week, to cover all I’ve been watching while I was away on vacation in August, I’m breaking up WHYBW into manageable chunks. Yesterday, I dealt with all the boxsets I managed to make my way through and later in the week – probably on Tuesday, now I think about it… – I’ll be looking at the episodes of new and regular shows that I’ve watched, too.

But today, it’s movie time! So after the jump, I’ll be filling you in on what I thought about Ghost in the Shell (2017), Guardians of the Galaxy – Volume 2 (2017) and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016).

Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Live-action remake of the classic anime movie that sees Scarlett Johansson playing a cyborg soldier designed to help the Japanese police to fight crime. Her brain’s human, while the rest of her is robotic, but although she’s not supposed to be able to remember anything from her former life, fragments start seeping through, causing her to wonder if her ‘creators’ are keeping something terrible from her.

Yep, it’s Robocop again. Robocop but made to look like Blade Runner and without even the slightest hint of a sense of humour. Sure, there’s a bit of philosophical musing about the nature of the soul and consciousness, and if you squint a bit you can see some bits of Japanese cyberculture emerging from behind the script, but otherwise, it’s almost completely identical to Paul Verhoeven’s magnum opus.

Johansson’s suitably blank and the fact she’s caucasian rather than Japanese is at least used to some plot end, rather than overlooked. Johansson’s boss – the marvellous Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano – impressively refuses to speak English to anyone, no matter how much they jabber at him in it. But despite that, the gorgeous visuals and its roots, Ghost in the Shell is actually a pretty boring remake that you’re better off avoiding.

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

Guardians of the Galaxy – Volume 2 (2017)

The gang’s back together and surprisingly funnier in this sequel to the Marvel hit, which also brings back a few more villainous faces. After a job goes wrong, Star Lord (Chris Pratt) and his pals end up getting rescued by his dad (Kurt Russell) who appropriately enough goes by the name of Ego. Wouldn’t you know it, though – Ego’s up to something that’s all about him…

And that’s about it for the plot, as the movie’s really all about sticking various combinations of the characters together to riff off one another, while reconfiguring and retconning relationships so that everyone becomes a big dysfunctional family, even the villains. Pratt and Zoe Saldana have to be the mother and father of the piece, so surprisingly get the least fun lines. Instead, it’s David Bautista’s Drax who’s responsible for most of the movie’s best moments, the rest going to Baby Groot.

Yet despite its lack of plot, I actually preferred this to the first movie, since as well as being funnier, it feels like writer/director/supporting-actor James Gunn was allowed to go a little more off the hook and make everything even darker, stupider and weirder than before, whether it’s a cameo and a disco-video by David Hasselhoff, or a giant Pac Man gobbling things up.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Long-term readers of TMINE know that during my summer vacation, I like to try to read a book without falling asleep. This year’s chosen tome was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a surprisingly witty affair that takes an edited version of Jane Austen’s much loved classic and every so often adds some zombies.

Naturally, having actually read it, we decided to watch last year’s movie adaptation. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty loose affair that initially sticks quite closely to both originals, before deciding it can do better. It can’t. Despite the zombies, a bit of martial arts and a cast that includes Matt Smith (not just a cameReviewo), Lena Headey (a cameo), Sally Phillips and Charles Dance (good Mr and Mrs Bennetts) and Lily James (a surprisingly good Miss Elizabeth Bennett), it’s also immensely dull.

Books better than movies? Surely not. But yes.

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