After 'Knights of Sidonia', Netflix and Polygon Pictures aim — sucessfully — for darker and harder-hitting territory
With all the anime/manga projects out there to choose from, why does Hollywood insist on choosing the ones that give it the biggest cultural difficulties?
In the end, all the 'Ghost in the Shell: ARISE' continuity has done is lead us right back where we started
The other day a friend of mine and I were discussing Joss Whedon and the Avengers franchise, and the sum of my comment was that those productions were not bad, just not good. They weren't incompetent, but they didn't really bring anything to the table that hadn't been there before; they just brought more of it at once. People seemed to be reacting more to the fact that the movies got made at all, and weren't an awful mess, than because there was anything genuinely exciting going on. I felt the same way about Dimension W, a competent but ultimately generic series that exists mostly to tick off a list of ingredients but not invest them with the kind of ferocious creativity they were begging to have applied to them. The show is like a toupee: it doesn't look bad from a distance, but the closer you get the more you realize there's little there save fakery and façades.
From the outside, the news seems about as straightforward and joyous as it can get: Director Fumihiko Sori (of the live-action Ping Pong, among others) will be sitting in the director's chair for a live-action adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist, set to be released in 2017. Casting has already been announced, too. But the other details of this adaptation make this a project that's at least as curious as it is exciting — in part because it's a Japanese-language and Japanese-cast production of a story that could also have been filmed in the West with no lossage.
At the heart of any truly great artist is a set of obsessions that function as a two-edged sword. They can drive the artist to find truths from within that others would never seek, but they can also limit that artist to jogging endlessly around the perimeter of the same track forever. I am hard-pressed to say whether Mamoru Oshii is a) obsessed or b) just plain out of ideas, but with Garm Wars: The Last Druid, Oshii's most recent live-action feature, I'm edging towards the second conclusion. It isn't that the movie is bad, although that's arguably true; it's that it's redundant. Oshii's said all this before, better, many times.
Garm Wars (what a lamentable title) plays like someone created a Mamoru Oshi storytelling program and front-loaded it with all of his usual subjects — a suitably exotic setting, the nihilism of perpetual warfare, the significance of personal memory, basset hound mascots. The program then spat out a Markov Chain assemblage of those pieces, all recycled from his previous works in some manner. Nothing in this film convinced me Oshii is interested in testing these concepts, or expanding on them, or re-examining them in new lights. He's just jacketing them in new clothing and jugging them in new wine bottles.