In a week filled with tumultuous reactions to the results of the US presidential election and the chaos of the Black Friday weekend, it is comforting to have the escape offered by the trailers of two new sci-fi masterpieces.
Ghost in the Shell
After enduring the controversy that surrounded the initial announcement of the new live-action version of Ghost in the Shell, fans have finally been given something fresh and positive to talk about. The trailer for the film was presented at a live event in downtown Tokyo, and people are raving about what they saw.
People familiar with the story of the manga-turned-anime will be pleased to find plenty of throwbacks to the original inspirational works, but there are also some fresh elements mixed in to make it new and exciting. In addition, actor Scarlett Johansson appears to have captured the essence of the story's lead character, cyborg Major, who struggles to retain her inner humanity despite her mechanical body.
Major Motoko Kusanagi, as portrayed by Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell
The story of Ghost in the Shell follows the Major, a unique human-cyborg, hybrid, special ops soldier in charge of an elite task force dubbed "Section 9". She and her team are devoted to negating the efforts of the most dangerous extremists and criminals, and in Ghost in the Shell they face an enemy who has the singular goal of wiping out the advancements in cyber technology engineered by Hanka Robotics. The anime, more so than the original manga, is considered a classic in the cyberpunk genre. Similar to Blade Runner, it illustrates a dystopian future where the city is gritty, and large corporations run the world with their hi-tech yet shady advancements. On top of that, Ghost in the Shell examines technology and AI from religious and philosophical perspectives, which was a major influence in the films of the late 90’s, like The Matrix.
The film, starring Scarlett Johansson, Juliette Binoche, Takeshi Kitano and Michael Pitt, launches on the 31st of March, 2017.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Luc Besson's latest film features Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne, flying spaceships and battling monsters. This teaser is short on dialogue, focusing instead on the encounters of time-travelling agents Valerian and Laureline with various incredible creatures during their mission to Alpha, which is a futuristic city, home to species from a thousand different worlds.
With the famous Beatles' song Because in the background, the teaser hints at the defining romance between the story's two main characters, with Laureline sharing her feelings for Valerian: "We get along just great. You flirt and I smile," right before punching him in the mouth.
The Besson-y film’s sets promise a fun, sci-fi adventure that certainly won’t lack any imagination
The movie is inspired by the French comic, Valerian and Laureline, that was originally published in 1967. The comic ran for around 4 decades and received praise for its deep characters and humanistic political ideas. Besson claims that he has been a big fan of the series since he was 10, and suggests that the female lead character, Laureline, was the first woman to ever win his heart.
Valerian's €197m budget ranks it among the most expensive French films ever produced, well beyond other French hits like Asterix (€78m) and the 1997 space epic, also directed by Besson, The Fifth Element (€75m). The teaser also features a brief appearance from another major star, singer Rihanna. Besson stated that she was his top choice for the role due to the way she smiles and the sound of her voice. He added that he was confident of her abilities on the set because of her experience in performing for crowds of over 100,000 people. Ethan Hawke and Clive Owen are also set to make appearances among its star-studded cast.
Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets opens in theaters on July 21st, 2017.