Review: Ghost in the Shell

Yet another live action remake of a classic, iconic animation, this is something slightly more grown up than what Disney have been giving us for the last few years though.

Ghost in the Shell has an incredible following by those who enjoy Anime/Manga and as such expectations and fears have been running high. This has been especially apparent around the casting of non-Japanese actors, especially Scarlett Johansson as the Major. Personally, I don’t find this a problem as there are may difficulties when dealing with representations of race within Anime. Plus, the cast is incredibly diverse with actors from Japan, Singapore, Australia, Britain, America, Zimbabwe, Romania, Denmark and France.

The problem this film has is that it tries a bit too hard to explain the reason for the Major’s ethnicity when really it didn’t have to. It’s as though the filmmakers decided to answer the critics instead of having the courage of their convictions.

All that aside, we have a film that takes place over an hour and 47 minutes that is trying to condense the mythology of four previous feature films, three series, as well as books and video games. The live action film focuses on the plot of the 1995 film, with certain scenes and shots that are eerily close to those in the Anime.

Ghost in the Shell is a beautiful looking film. Everything looks like it belongs in the film’s post-cyberpunk world where people enhance themselves with bionic implants. Even though the cityscapes are epic in their scale and the gigantic multicoloured advertisements that tower over the skyscapers, you can tell that this futuristic society is broken. All the film’s characters are brooding and introverted with the Major, in particular, constantly questioning her place in the world. This gives the whole film a very existential and ponderous tone akin to The Matrix, which could be a bit grating to the uninitiated. But, as far as I can remember, this is part-and-parcel of Ghost in the Shell‘s mythology (it’s been a long time since I’ve watched the originals).

I’m almost certain that this will be part of a franchise if it does well enough, as so many films tend to be. This is also the reason I can forgive it being a little underwhelming, however I shouldn’t have to apologise for it’s shortcomings. This should have blown me away. Although it looks amazing and there are some brilliant set pieces, the whole seems a little distant, cold and unengaging… but, I did enjoy it.


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