Ghost in the Shell: Review
(words by Kathryn Robertson)
Ghost in a Shell started out as a very popular Japanese manga which was turned into a much revered animated film in 1995. And that classic has since been called a cinematic inspiration by many an American director — Director Rupert Sanders’ painstakingly rendered take on the tale, is nothing if not aesthetically appealing. His vision of a futuristic Japan filled with flashing lights, dazzling colours and enormous holograms leaning out from every rooftop and building front, is awe inspiring stuff. The world building on offer here is truly impressive.
The story is set in a future in which cybernetic enhancement is the norm, with most humans bearing implants and/or prosthetics of some sort, typically a data port on the back of the neck. Scarlett Johansson stars as Major Mira Killian, whose brain is placed in a fully synthetic body by Hanka Industries after suffering severe injury from an attack on a refugee boat.
Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind: a true blending of a human brain with a completely mechanical body. Not that she really knows anything other than that existence. She simply woke up and there she was, a new construct: a replaceable-parts robotic super soldier with no physical feelings or memories. A unit assigned to help the government’s counterterrorism agency, Section 9.
Visual flash, however, isn’t all you need for a good movie. Whereas the original Ghost in the Shell was far enough ahead of its time, in terms of thought provoking concepts, around what it means to be human in an emerging A.I. world, that it couldn’t always grasp the implications. The remake is just so behind the times that it misses the point entirely. Ghost in the Shell is content to be ‘Jason Bourne Goes Cyberpunk’ and find nifty ways to imitate the look and feel of the original. Unfortunately It ponders few questions, and gives fewer answers.
In the end, Ghost in the Shell’s reason for being boils down to that of an excuse to lift the best set pieces and design elements from the original and film them as live action. It’s the character-driven storyline here that causes this particular cyborg cinematic to end up feeling a bit too mechanical at times. There are some light good-versus-evil, humanity-versus-tech statements, and even a slight nod to family, but all-in-all the film doesn’t feel quite….well, human enough.
Ghost in The Shell has a marvelous, beautiful shell, but the soul within gets bland at times. I would still recommend you to watch this movie, if only for the amazing visual beauty each frame has to offer.
2017 | US | DIR: Rupert Sanders | WRITER: Jamie Moss, Jonathan Herman | CAST: Scarlett Johansson, Michael Pitt, Juliette Binoche, Beat Takeshi Kitano, Chin Han | DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount | RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes |