Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2045 (Season Two) [REVIEW] | To Doublethink Outside The Cage

Yeah, let’s tackle something a bit more challenging before we once again dip our toes in braindead killer animal exploitation crap.

When i reviewed the first season of this new Ghost In The Shell series back in 2020, i wasn’t expecting it would take 2 years before the second part/season would finally air, not because these projects aren’t time consuming (they are), but the general lack of interest in this new 3D CG iteration of the franchise shown by fans and the lack of much news at all almost made wonder if Netflix didn’t consider cancelling.

But then again, in the meantime we saw that it would take a gargantuan dumpster fire such as the live action Cowboy Bebop to make the streaming giant go and actively go “yeah, we’re gonna make more of this trash but we actually decided not to”.

A rare move, given WHAT this company is usually okay with greenlighting in excess, while killing stuff people actually likes.

Still, after a while it became clear this second season wasn’t exactly making anime fans go in the streets to demand it big time. Riots were not made for SAC 2045 Part 2, that much is undeniable.

Eventually, in late May 2022 the second season dropped on Netflix, preceded by a compilation film of the first season, called – fittingly so – GITS SAC 2045: Sustainable Warfare, which we talked about in its EXPRESSO review, and overall served as a good refresher since 2 years had passed.

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[EXPRESSO] Ghost In The Shell -Stand Alone Complex 2045: Sustainable Warfare (2022) | Cyborg Cut

I’ve reviewed the first season of Stand Alone Complex 2045 before in detail, but as a refresher for season 2 finally arriving (2 years after the first one, dang) later this month, i’d figured i watch the film-like compilation cut of Season 1, titled Substainable Warfare, recently arrived on Netflix.

Btw, yes, this actually follows the continuity from the older Stand Alone Complex series, being set 11 years after the event of the movie Solid State Society, BUT, in typical GITS fashion, it’s also a separate entity that can be enjoyed on its own… even though in this case you really need to have some familiarity with the Stand Alone Complex series to get the most out of it.

As a very quick primer, GITS it’s about an unit of elite special agents, Section 9, led by Motoko Kusanagi abd working for the Japanese goverment, with its members having various degrees of cybernetic implants and specialized skills used to deal in terrorist attacks, infiltrations, hacking incident, and all that cyberpunk jazz.

Here we have the group mostly disbanded and acting as a mercenary unit in America, until the rise of the so-called “Post Humans” leds to Section 9 being re-formed to deal with the issue.

The recut itself it’s well done (though it does away completely with the “geezers bank heist” episode, shame), in terms of the material… well, it’s still better than Arise, though it tries a bit too hard to update/modernize the cyberpunk themes, and this first part/season ends on a cliffhanger when it starts getting good.

Then there’s the okay but kinda questionable choice of artstyle, going for a fairly good 3D CG that sadly doesn’t feel THAT much improved upon, 11 years after the same animation studio (Sola Digital Arts) curated Applesee Alpha in similar fashion.

[EXPRESSO] Matrix: Resurrections (2021) | Present Day, Present Time

An obligatory preface: i didn’t see the movies since i was Matrix Revolutions in theathers, but i remember the story more or less. I say this because the storyline actually continued from Revolutions into the videogame Matrix Online, but i never played that or cared to read its wikia.

And i also know this already proved to be very divisive.

I can see why, as Lana Wachoski uses the premise as a meta-manifest to lament the absurdity of these “decade laters” sequels , publicly venting how she was basically badgered for decades in making a sequel despite no real plans for it, as it happens to every franchise with any following or nostalgia brought back from the cold dark grave, regardless if there was any point, merit or reason.

We live in a post-Space Jam 2 world, after all.

I will concede that this movie it’s flawed, it is, and i kinda hate when it goes “remember that?”, but at the same time this movie has actually the balls to use this meta-context in order to to make a real sequel to the series with something to say, instead of working as a banal “series best hits”.

I can’t assure you’ll like it, but i’d say it’s worth watching nonetheless because it has the edge of actually having a purpose, a vision (the plot has a pretty smart way to “modernize/justify” a fourth movie), not just to exist in absolute and risk averse complancency, the action it’s great, and it has heart, even if it’s flawed and at times so excessively earnest it becomes goofy, but the confidence still shines through.

Though with it feeling a bit long and some of the meta “gags” being sometimes grating, i can’t fully say it’s “good”.

But i still recommend seeing it, absolutely.

12 Days Of Dino Dicember #3: Jurassic Expedition (2018)

I don’t know what it was with late 2010s and the small resurgence of “dinosaurs in space” movies, but yes, that off handed comment i made when reviewing Jurassic Galaxy wasn’t for naught, that movie had a “buddy” of sorts, released a year later as… Alien Expedition?

It’s amazing how that was actually the original title, which was quickly changed in most releases because dinosaurs bring all the boys to the yard, after all. “Jurassic” is a palatable adjective, it is.

Seriously, how the hell do you make a low budget sci-fi movie about dinosaur planets and NOT put a dinosaur relevant word in the title? You want people to eventually watch your movie, right?

Even more amazing is that the two movies also share the “dual brothers directors”… just pulling your leg, it’s a guy that just happens to be named Wallace Brothers, and only having made a single film before this one, David And Goliath from 2016, never heard of it before myself.

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Syndicate PS3 [REVIEW] | Cyberbooting EA Nonsense

While CD Projeckt Red (look out to not be sued by Robert Fripp) it’s still trying to patch up the comatose corpse release of Cyberpunk 2077, let’s go back in time when cyberpunk was…. actually not that far since i actually played this last year while quarantined and cleanin some of my backlog, and the game actually came out in 2012, almost ten years ago.

It just feels odd to discuss a game like this now, with the scenario of a society that basically taps directly into the “Wired” (not actually called that, but you get it), so you can connect to the internets with a chip installed in your brain, with more than half of the world populace having it, and using it to – among other things like downloading porn and Doom 2 WADS, i guess – align with one of the megacorporations that have become more important than nations themselves. The megacorps of course compete for dominance by also upping their terror and spy tactics by using prized killers, like the protagonist, Kilo (yes, with a “i”), as corporate espionage is basically a full on war.

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EX-ARM anime (2021) [REVIEW] | Make the bad guys cry like….

I knew of Ex-Arm before the series was announced, as in i red the first volume of the manga, and thought that was.. alright.

Then in early november 2020 i discovered there was an anime planned for it, and apparently it was supposed to launch earlier, but got delayed a couple of times, post-poned until its January 2021 release on Crunchyroll, as one of their “Crunchyroll Originals” exclusive projects.

I heard about it on Twitter, alongside many baffled comments on why the hell is a live-action director with no experience in anime directing a 3D CG anime and also tasking a production company that also has no experience in anime… and i immediatly knew i would just “have” to review it, to witness the monstrum and write a report about what could be found in its wretched bowels.

Get confortable, as this autopsy-review will examine all the guts and decomposed organs, and there’s a LOT of those to rifle through with this one!

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Dino Dicember #20: Theodore Rex (1995)

The 1990’s had such a thing for the “extinction impaired” that they managed to spawn not one, not two but three (at least) dinosaur cyberpunk movies, and yes, i’m counting Super Mario Bros The Movie as one of them, because it fits. But we’ll reference that one some more later, when we tackle Anonymous Rex, today we’re talking about a movie that people knew about at the time… but wish they didn’t.

Clearly it didn’t help Whoopi Goldberg’s career, but neither this nor Monkeybone stopped her. Baby Geniuses 2 did more on that regard, as far as playing a character (instead of herself) in a movie.

Of course, this means Theodore Rex, the sci-fi dinosaur buddy cop comedy that was meant for theathers, but ultimately went straight to the home video market, at least in the US and Italy. Also, it did earn Whoopi Goldberg a Golden Raspberry Award, but the Razzies… yeah, whatever.

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[EXPRESSO] Bot Vice NSWDDL | Cyberpop Lane Cabal

Bot Vice’s story is basically a nostalgic mash up of 80 and 90s, with the animesque character designs, the heroine sporting a tank top, attitude and a bionic arm with weapons (heck, the application’s icon is a reference to Alita Battle Angel), as she fights an army of animal themed cyborgs at the orders of the villain, ready to blow up the Nakatomi Building (and quote Terminator, Robocop, AND Beavis And Butthead, because), symbol of the decadent cyberpunk Bot City.

Surprisingly, alongside a nice retrostyled soundtrack you get voice acting for the cutscenes (which could have been shortene), and decent voice acting as well, fitting the whole “self-aware, shameless reference spouting” glut so typical of this sub-set of retro indie games. It comes off as cute, but thankfully Bot Vice it’s also a very tough “gallery shooter” in the style of Cabal and Wild Guns, as in you move around the bottom of the screen, shooting and rolling to avoid enemy fire, collecting special weapons with limited ammo and also using taking cover, which can be destroyed.

And it is tough, quite merciless, even at the beginning, so you’ll need to master moving around, rolling and using cover, as each level is a short but intense battle arena, culminanting in a boss fight. Oddly, the game puts an overall time limit for you to finish all stages in, despite the stages being short and not that numerous, even more as the game doesn’t detract the time spent re-trying stages.

The developer Dya Games managed to do a lot with the “gallery shooter” setup, making for an intense, short but sweet experience, quite challenging and with enough replay value, thanks to its arcade perfect setup, extra difficulties and a bunch of extra missions.

Recommended, even more when it goes on sale.