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COP & 1/2/GHOST IN THE SHELL

 

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: A 24-years-later sequel to 'Cop & 1/2' has been released straight to video (see my Deseret News review here) and the live-action version of ‘Ghost in the Shell’ has also just hit video (see my Deseret News review here), so let’s take a look back at the original films. Below are my reviews, which were published, respectively, in the April 2, 1993, and Feb. 2, 1996, Deseret News.

“Cop & ½” is a dreadful, cheap-looking "Home Alone" ripoff, with Norman D. Golden II as an 8-year-old kid who's seen too much TV. He wants to be a cop - not a normal policeman, of course, but a "Miami Vice" shoot-'em-up hero.

And he gets his chance when he witnesses a mob murder and finds himself teamed up with grizzled, reluctant Burt Reynolds, a detective who, of course, hates kids.

Most of the comedy is either cartoonish slapstick (crooks attacked by schoolyard kids with Twinkies), vulgar gags (Reynolds stepping in dog doo) or obscure jokes that even most adults won't get (a spoof of "Spartacus," of all things).

     

     Norman D. Golden II, left, Burt Reynolds, 'Cop & 1/2'

Despite his comedy success on TV's "Evening Shade," it's a shame to see Reynolds sinking to this depth. He should have known from the script by Arne Olsen (he wrote "Red Scorpion" for Dolph Lundgren) or the presence of producer Paul Maslansky (the "Police Academy" films) and director Henry Winkler (Billy Crystal's "Memories of Me").

The word "lame" is too tame to describe "Cop & 1/2," which is rated PG for plenty of gunplay, fistfights, car chases and other forms of allegedly comic mayhem.

“Ghost in the Shell” is another "Japanamation" feature, with a science-fiction story that is a bit more interesting than most, though it is also overly complicated and occasionally confusing.

As is usually the case with these films, however, the emphasis is clearly on the intricate, technological animation — and some of it is stunning, bolstered by a heavy dose of computer-generated art.

It's that same old mixed bag, however — eye-popping machinery and backgrounds, and stiff human figures, sometimes with a stationary picture lasting a couple of minutes as only the characters' lips move.

The story … as near as I can tell … has a government cyborg agent named Major Motoko Kusanagi trying to track down a mysterious virtual reality intelligence known as "The Puppet Master." (Actually, it's more of a brainy computer virus on the loose.)

There's all kinds of cyberspeak, technical mumbo-jumbo and specific references created for this fantasy world of the year 2029, but basically it's bad guys vs. good guys, each with special powers.

     

In the film's most crass, juvenile touch, Major Motoko must take off her clothes in order to become camouflaged … that is, she becomes invisible. This allows the animators to display the naked female form throughout the film. (OK, it's just a cartoon, but you will note that when a male character renders himself invisible early in the film, he puts on a cloaking device rather than stripping.)

The violence isn't as gory as in some others, and the characterizations are, in general, more compelling.

In fact, in some ways, "Ghost in the Shell" offers some hope that another effort down the line may actually live up to the promise made by "Akira" a few years ago. But this one isn't quite there.

"Ghost in the Shell" is not rated but would undoubtedly receive an R for violence, nudity and some language.