Cars, Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society and The Queen

Movies seen this weekend were “Cars”, “Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society”, and “The Queen”.  The movies rating from the best to the worst were “The Queen”, “Cars”, and “Solid State Society”.

Cars is a Pixar film detailing the importance of friendship, sportsmanship, and values through the eyes of an ambitious, and self-centered racecar who is stuck in a rural town on Route 66 after an accident.  There Lightning McQueen meets a Porsche 911, some old cars, and Paul Newman who later serves as his mentor in his major race.  Some interesting bits in the movie were Volkswagen beetles were bugs, Michael Schumacher makes a cameo as a Ferrari F430 along with some Maserati Quattroportes, one of the characters was actually a customised Isetta, and the only real villains in the movie were rival racer voiced by Michael Keaton and some riced up imports.  Overall, it was a fun film to watch and it was quite funny when they made Cars version of Toy Story, A Bug’s Life and Monsters Inc.  For some reason, they had Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear voice Lightning McQueen’s agent in the UK version of the film…

“Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society” was a direct-to-DVD film that takes place after the second season of the TV series.  The movie takes places 2 years after the refugee crisis with Motoko leaving Section 9 with Togusa taking her place.  This movie largely dealt with the series’ version of the Puppet Master along with the subplot of abducted children, neglected pensioners, and the societal impact of changing technologies.  The national issues that were presented in the film were about the ongoing problems of Japan’s low birthrate, the growing burdens that pensioners have on the state, how to deal with neglected/abused children, and the impact of innovation.  Some technological issues explored in the film dealt with the concept of rhizomes where unconscious minds connected over cyberspace, the problems of cybernetic implants in young children and the dilemmas of personal privacy once one becomes permanently wired to the Internet.

The major twist of the movie was that the Puppet Master was actually a digital copy of Motoko that was influenced by her past experiences using the identity of a dead bureaucrat.  This warped copy wanted to resolve Japan’s issues after being exposed to the vastness of cyberspace and splitting off from Motko’s original ghost.  Batou and the Tachikomas later covered this fact up for Motoko’s benefit.  The fansub for the film was quite shitty in my opinion since they failed to translate every piece of dialogue and some of the words did not properly match the translation given the dialogue’s context.

“The Queen” starring Helen Mirren, gives a behind-the-scenes look of how Queen Elizabeth and the then newly-elected Tony Blair dealt with Princess Diana’s death in the summer of 1997.  In the film, the Queen decides to follow tradition by not delivering a public statement or response to Diana’s death since she was no longer a HRH and because the Spencer family wanted a private funeral.  Tony Blair with help from his aides, decided to publicly address the nation and tries to advise the Queen on how to handle the situation.  During this entire period, Prince Charles was portrayed to have been increasingly fearful of reprisals for somehow indirectly bringing about the events that led to her horrific death and spending time with his sons.

The film also explores the conflict the Elizabeth II has over royal tradition, represented by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen Mother, and the need to adapt to changing values as evidenced by Prince Charles and Tony Blair.  Additionally, the film also deals with the larger struggle over the influence of the monarchy versus the elected government over the British people with Tony Blair and the Queen struggling to find a proper solution to deal with Diana’s death.  The conflict eventually reaches its height when Blair directly informs the Queen that her approval ratings were at a point where 1 in 4 Britons wanted to abolish the Monarchy and with Blair acting on his Constitutional duty to protect the monarchy by giving precise instructions to the Queen on how to address the people.

“The Queen” also highlights Tony Blair’s strong loyalty and respect for Queen Elizabeth while his aides and wife supported abolishing the monarchy.  At the end of the entire ordeal, Elizabeth II become stronger person who is more open among her subjects and slightly more proactive in dealing with national affairs.  Ironically, the Queen informs Tony Blair that he will face extremely negative press that she experienced during Diana’s death at some point in his career over his actions. Other points the film makes are that Elizabeth II was a very strong and independent woman as a result of her experiences in World War II and is continuously torn between her duties as the Head of State and being wife,  daughter, mother and grandmother.

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