Hollywood's "Ghost in the Shell"

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Re: Hollywood's "Ghost in the Shell"

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Postby EvangelionFan » Fri Mar 31, 2017 3:24 am

I saw the Hollywood adaptation today with my stepfather. I've seen the Oshii films a few times, as well as all of Stand Alone Complex (including the OVA), and read the original volume of the manga two or three times ... though that had all been about six or seven years ago, and so I am somewhat out of touch with those works at the moment. My stepfather has seen the Oshii films and although he enjoys them, I'd say he's more into the series for the action and the world, whilst I'm pretty much into all of it.

I'd like to offer some thoughts in summary about initial viewing of the adaption.

It is an imperfect film. I found it sort of sways from different subplots a little too disjointedly, and though the original content in the film is strong, something about it doesn't gel all too well with the scenes adapted from the Oshii films and S.A.C. Something's also off with the setting: though the set design is strong and the computer generated imagery complements it, I got the sense midway through that some of the spaces seemed un-lived in as though the streets needed more people, or that perhaps an absence of 'public space' or 'the public'.

It's a good film, if one recognises that there's a recurring feeling of off about the direction of the film, and that all one can do is roll with that and appreciate what works - and I felt that there is a lot that works (for what there is). I found the opening sequence deftly introduced us to the setting and to the principal drama, and the sequence that follows (adapted from the original Oshii anime, though different and appreciable in its own right) is good. I guess I should say that though the Major's nature as a cyborg agent is given a solid introduction, there's a slight gap in the premise about the Major's personal motivations as an agent in Section 9 and why she acts the way she does, and I found this inhibits how her arc fits in with Section 9's initial investigation. I found the cast gave strong performances, though they were undoubtedly stronger performed than they were written. There is some of that classic Ghost in the Shell philosophy in the course of the film, though I felt it's more of a theme than the primary thrust of the story (as some might argue about the Oshii films) and so the depth in this film is found in the Major's arc and the ethical questions that it raises. I realise that the action sequences are a crucial point for some people - personally I found the action appropriately paced, had the right amount of stakes to retain to my interest, and apart from the last sequence, the direction in those sequences achieved a fine kinetic quality that I felt did a good service to the source material. I'm also obliged to note that the set design and use of real locations is on point (as are the costumes and props and the like), and the computer imagery for the cyborg bodies is pretty darn good, though I got distracted with a few computer generated set pieces and backgrounds that I felt were on a different visual register to the action.

Although it'd be more in my style wait until more of you have seen and spoke about the movie before addressing particular story points in great depth, I believe it's worth noting that I particularly appreciated the angle on the question of the Major's background - I should stress to name her as 'the Major' here, as anyone who will watches the movie will understand - something that's pretty much untouched in the Oshii iterations. Though as anyone who's seen 2ND GIG knows, there are threads this story that are borrowed from an arc near the end of that series. I suspect those who have seen 2ND GIG and know the Kuze arc well will be able appreciate how his background in that series has been utilised in this adaptation - and it's significant, as it's paced in a manner that highlights questions about the Major's arc which had me intrigued and interested to know what would be next.

And that's one of the smartest things about this adaptation, as it sets the groundwork for a scene near the end of the second act - and another in near the end of the movie - where we're shown a side another side of the humanity about the Major (and about the ethical questions of putting people artificial bodies, and so on) that I have to admit is beautifully handled.

Serious spoiler  SPOILER: Show
I have to be specific: I am speaking about the scene in which the Major meets her birth mother, and by association, the scene near the end in which the two acknowledge each other and embrace. Everyone will have their own view on it. In the theater, as the scene unfolded, that scene in the apartment appeared to me as unlike anything that's been attempted in any of the Major's arcs before, as it showed a side of her humanity that's been untouched in most of the other works. And better still, in the way it's handled, it's most moving material in the adaptation and perhaps the most thoughtful material as well. It's a boon to this adaptation that it's been included and that it works as well as it does.


Overall I had a good time with the movie, and my stepfather enjoyed it as well. We took the two o'clock afternoon session to see it and there were actually about a dozen or more other people in the theater. Though it's hard to know how many people in the audience had experiences with the movie, I'm inclined to state at this time that it's a decent introduction to general audiences and a sound live-action adaptation for those of us who have been with the franchise for a while.

With that said, I am sad to say that whilst I was writing some slightly-serious thoughts in spoiler boxes, I made the mistake of loading up the Wikipedia page and ... well, those aggregate scores aren't so encouraging. Evidently there many mixed opinions about it. It's to soon to say anything about how this movie will be thought of over time, though in the immediate future I feel it offers fertile ground for discussion of the franchise.


MILD SPOILERS I have to get this out of my system before I submit  SPOILER: Show
If you asked yourself "Is there going to be a Basset Hound in this live-action Ghost in the Shell film", you'll be glad to see that

There is a Basset Hound in this film in at least three scenes.

First, the Basset Hound appears last amongst the Dog that Batou feeds in the alleyway, and IIRC it snags a brief shot all to itself.
Second, the Basset Hound is the only dog the reappear when the Major revisits the alleyway.
and Third, the Basset Hound reappears alongside Batou in the third act, sitting in a beach chair beside Batou as he readies himself to shoot the shit out of some section six agents sneaking up behind them

And BONUS BASSET HOUND ROUND: In one of the computer-generated overhead camera shots halfway through the movie, for about a second a giant animated holographic Basset Hound can be seen off of the side of a building.

Better believe it folks: the film retains Oshii's strange obsession with Basset Hounds. I have to admit, it got me smiling and laughing in the theater that they did this not once but several times.
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Re: Hollywood's "Ghost in the Shell"

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Postby NemZ » Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:02 am

...but are there Tachikomas? I love those little blue bugtanks.
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Re: Hollywood's "Ghost in the Shell"

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Postby EvangelionFan » Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:43 am

Section 9 in the movie isn't shown as having Tachikomas - in fact, I don't recall Section 9 using any robots of their own. As with the first Oshii film, the Major and Batou tend to get around in armored vans or cars.

I am inclined to say that there aren't Tachikoma's in the film as they probably were deemed to be too out of tone with what the director/producers were going for. I feel the closest thing I saw resembling one had been an inanimate spider-shaped tank in the background in one of the earlier scenes when the Major & Batou are strolling through the security checks outside the Hanka Corporation building ... but, it was grey and had a flat top, so it was probably a spider-tank similar to the one in the first Oshii film (or a statue of one or something like that).

moderately sized spoiler that answers your question  SPOILER: Show
The spider-tank from the first Oshii film is recreated for an action sequence at the end of the adaptation ... and as you can guess, it operates lot like the one from that film, with the notable exception that it's controlled remotely by Mr. Corporate Villain rather than by a cybernetically connected driver. I'd say that is what is seen in the background in the aforementioned security check scene, so as far as I know there are no Tachikomas in this film.
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Re: Hollywood's "Ghost in the Shell"

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Postby NemZ » Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:27 am

Meh. I'm not surprised, but still disappointed.
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Re: Hollywood's "Ghost in the Shell"

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Postby Gob Hobblin » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:31 am

Yeah, I read about that 'twist ending'....
Though, Gob still might look good in a cocktail dress.
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Re: Whitewashing And Diversity In Hollywood?

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Postby Gob Hobblin » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:34 am

So, on Ghost in the Shell....

SPOILER: Show
The big twist is that the major is an Asian woman whose identity has been erased and replaced with a white woman's. And they just kind of gloss over the implications of that.


It sounds like took everybody's concerns and went in the complete opposite direction with them.
Though, Gob still might look good in a cocktail dress.
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Re: Whitewashing And Diversity In Hollywood?

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Postby A.T. Fish » Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:25 am

View Original PostGob Hobblin wrote:So, on Ghost in the Shell....

SPOILER: Show
The big twist is that the major is an Asian woman whose identity has been erased and replaced with a white woman's. And they just kind of gloss over the implications of that.


It sounds like took everybody's concerns and went in the complete opposite direction with them.


SPOILER: Show
Which makes sense, since the company that created her didn't want her to remember who she was. Also, the film is working with concepts that transcend ethnicity, the Major is constantly questioning her own humanity, she has to come to terms with the fact that her body isn't even organic anymore, the ethnicity of this new body is of little concern at that point.

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Re: Whitewashing And Diversity In Hollywood?

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Postby Bagheera » Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:20 pm

But that means the twist was completely unnecessary, and is working at odds with what GitS is supposed to be.
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Re: Whitewashing And Diversity In Hollywood?

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:58 pm

^ You're right and it is.
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Re: Whitewashing And Diversity In Hollywood?

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Postby NemZ » Sat Apr 01, 2017 1:10 pm

Becoming a full-body replacement cyborg isn't the end of identity politics bullshit? truly we are cursed.
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Re: Whitewashing And Diversity In Hollywood?

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Postby A.T. Fish » Sat Apr 01, 2017 2:09 pm

View Original PostBagheera wrote:But that means the twist was completely unnecessary, and is working at odds with what GitS is supposed to be.


SPOILER: Show
How so? All it does is give the character something to help her reconnect with her humanity.

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Re: Whitewashing And Diversity In Hollywood?

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Postby Gendo'sPapa » Sat Apr 01, 2017 2:28 pm

It's always interesting that the talk regarding art/entertainment/stories being able to rise above ethnicity only takes place in cases when a white person is the focus. All because of the culturally assumed belief that white is the status quo.

I always wonder if the people who passionately defend such casting would be okay with Superman being non-white. I mean, he's not from Earth.

Maybe the movie wouldn't have blown so much if they didn't keep it situated in Hong Kong & moved the story to a city where a predominantly white cast makes
more sense - future San Francisco or something , or didn't pander so hard with Beat Takeshi being the only person in the film speaking in a foreign language or didn't routinely make bad artistic decisions like having the Major visit a Japanese grave in a Japanese cemetery where the one grave she's interested in has the name written on it in English.

Eh. Ghost in the Shell 2017 is the definition of a forgettable film. The visuals (well the key action scenes & a few sporadic moments here & there, a lot of the movie is very tele-visual with too many close ups & mediums) are nice but because they're not connected to a more solid & memorable foundation of narrative or character they just float by & don't stick. I saw the film a few days ago & already can't remember most of it while Get Out, Song to Song, Logan & dozens of films from 2016 are still very fresh in my mind. In the era of "We Can Do Anything" film making we're not exactly bereft of fantastic almost photo-real alternate worlds so just replicating the world of the anime isn't enough to cut it. Maybe an action scene or two will get regular play on Youtube but that's it.
Story & character matter above all else.

In the end I promise history will forget the actual film of Ghost in the Shell 2017 because it has so little worth or quality. There's nothing there to hold onto -
besides the awesome GheisaBots of course - so the films legacy is ultimately going to be its racial controversy. It sure doesn't help that the film essentially leans into the whitewashing controversy & tries to say "their is no controversy". A much smarter film would have dealt with the cultural/social aspects of the reveal. There's an interesting story there. Shame they didn't actually confront it.

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Re: Hollywood's "Ghost in the Shell"

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Postby Tumbling Down » Sat Apr 01, 2017 3:40 pm

I double featured this with Beauty and the Beast, since they're both live-action remakes of animated classics. I wouldn't describe either of them as good, but this one actually had a reason to exist: photorealistically rendering the beautiful imagery from the original. B&TB didn't have much that I wanted to see recreated in CG. So, uh, I do recommend seeing this, so long as you don't expect a good script. You just get some pretty pictures.

>tfw 8% of this movie's budget could've gone to redubbing Motoko in the 1995 film

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Re: Whitewashing And Diversity In Hollywood?

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Sat Apr 01, 2017 6:48 pm

Non-spoiler thoughts.

Having actually, finally seen this movie, culturally speaking, the white washing was... "lame"? Is that a good word to describe it? I mean, like GendosPapa said, it doesn't lead into an interesting statement about the subject or anything like that. It all seems so pointless and inoffensive that, strangely enough, that becomes the most offensive part about it. The movie should have either gone with a mostly Asian cast, including in the Major, or get the movie out of Hong Kong and completely Americanize/Westernize the crap out of it. Set it in LA or NY, cast a racially diverse set of folks all around (I'd still kill to see this movie), and tell a kick-ass existential cyber-punk story. Instead, what we got was this racially super awkward film to watch on screen that can be almost cool sometimes. It's like watching a friend of yours use the most offensive language possible in a public setting in order to give you a genuine complement in front of complete strangers... or something. You appreciate the effort to a very small extent, but you're more embraced about it and a little mad at him than you are anything else.

In fact, that's a good summation of the entire movie. But I'll continue anyway.

Ghost in the Shell 2017 doesn't compare to great film adaptations of good works (Jurassic Park), nor does it even compare to good film adaptations of great works (Lord of the Rings). Rather, GitS 2017 is a half-decent flick that compares to other mediocre film adaptations. (Think of the film adaptation of The Watchmen, but it's Ghost in the Shell instead.) It's got enough visual call-backs to convince fans that the filmmakers have seen the original(s) and "know what it's all about," but still ultimately lose their handling on the core appeal of the material to begin with, to the point where you wonder why they simply didn't make another sci-fi film that homages it just like The Matrix did. And without that firm grasp of the material's core appeals, the movie also kinda suffers from the "John Cater" effect. Sure, this is the source of all of those homages and call-backs that you've seen in other sci-fi movies, but so many of its stylistic elements have been "borrowed" by other contemporary sci-fi properties for so long that, without that core uniqueness, it just kinda looks like a less interesting version of the other stuff that you've already seen.

I'll expound upon this idea later. Believe me, there's a lot more to it than that already long paragraph I wrote.
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Re: Hollywood's "Ghost in the Shell"

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Postby silvermoonlight » Sun Apr 02, 2017 5:26 am

View Original PostGob Hobblin wrote:Yeah, I read about that 'twist ending'....


Yeah I read about that to...could not believe no one in production said hey guys you know this might be a huge problem and might really annoy people, because of the white washing issue everyone has already brought up and have been talking about for months. :facepalm:
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Re: Whitewashing And Diversity In Hollywood?

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Postby movieartman » Sun Apr 02, 2017 5:58 pm

I always wonder if the people who passionately defend such casting would be okay with Superman being non-white. I mean, he's not from Earth.

Superman specifically probably not, a dark toned head over the traditional colors just seems awkward to me, that is more a visual thing then anything else.
It really depends heavily on the character & the actor/actress involved.
I defend Johansson as Kusanagi as I genuinely think she looks like the 1995 Major.

I liked Jordan as the Human Torch conceptually (haven't seen that film yet), I personally loved Idris Elba as Heimdall and fully support the notion of him being the next James Bond. Would have liked him as Batman honestly.
I am fine with Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie (altho I absolutely hate that they didn't even faintly try to make her outfit or hair look like the character)

But at the same time I am genuinely upset at Zazie Beetz playing Domino, as she is among my top favorite female comic characters and her having bleached snow white skin is her single iconic visual feature and there is no way in hell they will put a black actress in basically white face even if it is more albino/joker skin kinda thing then Caucasian. Recently leaked concept art showed they are just gonna make her look like a generic as fuck post apocalyptic babe with a white oval around her eye. - https://edge.alluremedia.com.au/m/g/201 ... adpool.jpg
Like with this fan concept at least we would still get some striking contrast like her classic look had just reversed - https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C4tfGEaUYAAEiJN.jpg
But no they are going for the most lazy route imaginable.

Maybe the movie wouldn't have blown so much if they didn't keep it situated in Hong Kong & moved the story to a city where a predominantly white cast makes more sense - future San Francisco or something

View Original PostFreakyFilmFan4ever wrote:or get the movie out of Hong Kong and completely Americanize/Westernize the crap out of it. Set it in LA or NY

Strongly disagree with this, would remove every ounce of visual artistry and uniqueness that the anime had, we wouldn't get the geisha robots or anything.

I don't get how having a future with a decent number of white people living in Hong Kong is any different then Blade Runner having tons of Japanese people living in & Japanese culture integrated into LA.

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Re: Whitewashing And Diversity In Hollywood?

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Postby Bagheera » Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:26 pm

View Original PostA.T. Fish wrote:
SPOILER: Show
How so? All it does is give the character something to help her reconnect with her humanity.


She could do that just as easily with the identity of Motoko Kusanagi (or whatever said character's actual identity is, as that name makes about as much sense as "Jane Excalibur"). There is zero reason to give her a white identity. Like, none. If she has amnesia, fine -- her actual identity does the job as well as anything. If she doesn't, there's no reason to invent an identity. Either way, making a Japanese woman white does absolutely nothing for the storyline. Putting a Japanese woman into a white cyborg body? Fine, plenty to work with there. But making a Japanese woman believe she's white? No. No excuse whatsoever, period, the end. It's just stupid. It's like the staff is so invested in saying "fuck you" to identity politics that they will do the dumbest things possible to make their point, no matter how stupid they look in the process. Well, guess what? They look pretty fucking stupid. Just sayin'.
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Postby Bagheera » Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:35 pm

View Original Postsilvermoonlight wrote:Yeah I read about that to...could not believe no one in production said hey guys you know this might be a huge problem and might really annoy people, because of the white washing issue everyone has already brought up and have been talking about for months. :facepalm:


What amazing about it is the fact that they were free and clear: Motoko doesn't know who she is! She has a cyborg body that could look like anyone! She's literally a blank slate, and can be anyone you want her to be! And they decide to take this potential and go with . . . that. It's like they were trying to fail or something.
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Postby Gendo'sPapa » Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:54 pm

So much of the defense for this film basically falls down to the mindset: I really like Asian pop culture. Actual Asian people? I'm kinda indifferent.

Also, all of the cityscape visuals in Ghost in the Shell 2017 were flat out stolen/borrowed from Blade Runner so defending keeping the film in East Asia doesn't make any logical sense. The original film does not cover Hong Kong in flashy holographic displays at all. All that visual material is directly lifted from Blade Runner & the films that it inspired - A.I., Minority Report, other anime like Akira - & not the original Ghost. The actual visuals in the Rupert Sanders film could easily be transposed to almost any major coastal city around the world without sacrificing much. But the film wants it Yellow Racist Cake & to eat it too. Preferably with chopsticks and some kind of cool Japanese or Chinese beer that has a dragon on the bottle. It's a film that fetishizes East Asian culture to a hyperbolic exteme but doesn't want to give actual Asian people a voice. Hell, even the most prominently featured Asian member of the cast, "Beat" Takeshi Kitano, is more of a prop than an human being.

As for the difference between Blade Runner's world & Ghost in the Shell 2017? One, about 35 years of human history as the film was made in the early 80s. Two, Blade Runner is set in a city that historically has a pretty solid Asian population - 10.7% of LA in the most recent census identified as Asian - and if anything the film should have featured a greater Hispanic population. Three, Harrison Ford is playing a guy named Rick Deckard. Four, Los Angeles has had a Little Tokyo district since the early 1940s so there is actual precedence there. Five, ultimately Blade Runner is NOT the story of an Asian man coming to realize secrets about his past.

Comparison: One, Ghost in the Shell 2017 came out in 2017. Two, Ghost 2017 takes place in a city that historically has little ethnic diversity with 92% qualified as ethnic Chinese. Over half of that remaining 8% other is Indonesian & Filipino. So based on those numbers I guess Ghost 2017 gets a pass if in their world the film featured pretty much every Caucasian living in Hong Kong. Three, they give her a name change but we all know who Scarlett Johhansson is playing. Four, Hong Kong does not have a Little America district. Five, ultimately Ghost in the Shell 2017 IS ABSOLUTELY the story of an Asian woman coming to realize secrets about her past.... only in this case we don't spend any time with an actual Asian woman

In the end though audiences wisely rejected this film. Ghost in the Shell 2017 didn't crack $20 million in the US for it's opening weekend. With a film this niche (adaptation of 20+ year old anime) I'll be genuinely surprised if the film crosses $50 million domestically. I doubt there's many people out there who are willing to wait a few weeks on Ghost. Unless the film can pull Warcraft squared type numbers in China it's a financial bomb. Kinda rendering the already flawed "We Need a Star" argument as nonsense.

In the end, films a bomb. All the studios arguments for why they went the way they did has not delivered. Won't be surprised to see film near or even outside the Top 10 when next weekend's box office numbers come in. Go see Makoto Shinkai's Your Name in theaters next weekend instead, it's really good & even though it seems some people in their minds will say cast of characters in the film are really Caucasians that doesn't make it so. No one will be talking about Ghost in the Shell 2017 in two weeks except to say "Yeah, that was pretty racist." Actually, I take that back.... people will probably bring this film back into discussion in July 2018 right before ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL gets released. Just looked at the cast list for that film...

Finally, anyone of any color can be Superman. A dark toned Superman would not "be awkward". Certainly it would be less awkward & more faithful to the character of Superman than the fascist, cold, aloof, human hating murder bot that Henry Cavill has been stuck with for two films.
Last edited by Gendo'sPapa on Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.

robersora
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Re: Whitewashing And Diversity In Hollywood?

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Postby robersora » Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:09 pm

^
Just want to point out that Ghost 2017 is not set in Hong Kong.
Also, the only thing people in charge will learn will be "Oh, Lucy's financial hit was not because of Scarlett Johansson, let's take her off the A-list, shall we?"
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