Film Review – Ghost In The Shell


DIRECTED BY: Rupert Sanders

STARRING: Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han, Juliette Binoche, Lasarus Ratuere, Danusia Samal, Yutaka Izumihara, Tawanda Manyimo, Peter Ferdinando, Pete Teo, Rila Fukushima, Yuta Kazama, Chirstopher Obi, Michael Wincott, Kaori Momoi and Tricky

 

SYNOPSIS

In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals.

Set in the neat future, Major is the first of her kind: a human saved from a terrible crash which resulted in her brain being placed into a cybernetic body. Now enhanced to be the perfect soldier, a year later we see the Major commanding task force Section 9 to stop the world’s most dangerous criminals. When terrorism in the city reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people’s minds and control them, the Major is uniquely qualified to stop it.

Ghost In The Shell is the live-action American adaptation of the 1995 anime of the same name. In the near future the lines of humanity and technology are becoming more blurry than before as humans are starting to embrace cyber-enhancements and also cybernetic bodies are being used as experimentation to see if a human mind can be placed inside and see if the soul and ghost can merge cooperatively as one.

 

The main thing I took from Ghost In The Shell is just how visually stunning it looks most of the time, particularly when it focuses on the city’s towering landscape, the colourful 3D graphic advertisements on the skyscrapers that as on the dirty, gritty streets below. In terms of direction from Rupert Sanders I did appreciate the level of detail he went to recreating the scenes from the anime and there’s quite a few shot for shot similarities between the anime and this american adaptation. The cinematography from Jess Hall is great, especially enjoyed some of her work during darkly lit rooms and night scenes and the score from Clint Mansell and Lorne Balfe is very good indeed. While there was some, including myself, that were skeptical on whether or not the film would contain the theme of what it means to be human and how technology is starting to overtake everything about is, I can say that the film does address it thoroughly through the Major’s arc as she starts to become less human the longer she lives on in her cybernetic form. I thought for the role that the film is telling Scarlett Johansson gave a good performance, with restricted facial expressions, a rather robotic swagger when walking around the place and when it comes down to the action sequences she’s solid as usual in that department. While the supporting cast are rather limited in the screentime, I did enjoy Pilou Asbæk’s performance as Batou and how they tweaked his character’s arc slightly though his subtle interactions around Major remain intact and Takeshi Kitano (aka Beat Takeshi) as Chief Daisuke Aramaki was also memorable and actually better for me here than in the anime version and also speaks only in Japanese in the film here.

 

The films main arc here focuses on trying to give the audience an emotional attachment to the Major as she attempts to figure out her past and also how the villain Kuze fits into the overall narrative. As good as the film looks, the storyline is decent at best with some generic lines thrown in for good measure. While I get the motivations etc. of the Kuze character (and really liked how his voice glitches whenever he’s speaking longer than five words), he had a lingering presence but didn’t make that much of an impression on me whenever he finally appeared on screen and that’s no fault of Michael Pitt’s (Michael Carmen Pitt I believe in the opening credits) performance. The films villain however is as traditionally weak which is unfortunate.

 

VERDICT

A surprisingly faithful as can be adaptation of the 1995 anime film whilst trying to creative a fresh enough narrative through creating a backstory for the Major to search for in order to discover her identity. Visually stunning and with Scarlett Johansson, it’s a decent watch even with a slightly weak script in terms of dialogue and a rather unfulfilling villain. 6/10

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