The first live-action adaptation of the phenomenally popular Japanese manga comic and anime series “Ghost in the Shell” finally reaches the big screen. Scarlett Johansson plays a woman who is given cyber-enhancement after a near fatal accident. She’s then recruited as a crime fighter, but like Jason Bourne, seeks to recover her true identity.
This fantasy is a step up for filmmaker Rupert Sanders, best known for the over the top TV commercials. His last effort was the big budget opus, “Snow White and the Huntsman.” He captures the comic’s strange, dark tone of paranoia, but “Ghost in the Shell” is uniquely Japanese, so they should have cast it that way.
“Land of Mine” is an Oscar-nominated Danish drama about one of the shameful moments in Denmark’s history. Right after WWII, a group of German POWs, mostly boys, was forced into what was essentially a suicide mission. Their task was to remove hundreds of active mines on the Danish coastline that were left there by German troops. Although it is a wrenching and disturbing film to watch, it underscores how hatred and bitterness can cloud our thinking. It also shows that it’s possible to grow out of it.
Also opening this week, “Personal Shopper” is an art house horror thriller starring Kristen Stewart as the shopper for a European celebrity. “T2: Trainspotting” is the long-awaited sequel to Danny Boyle’s acclaimed drama about Scottish heroine addicts. “The Zookeeper’s Wife” stars Jessica Chastain in the true story of a Polish woman who worked with the Resistance during WWII. “Boss Baby” is an animated spoof voiced by Alec Baldwin. “The Devil’s Candy” is a haunted house flick starring Ethan Embry.
The 20th annual Kansas City Film Festival takes place April 5th-9th at the Cinemark Palace on the Plaza. Info is available at kcfilmfest.org.