Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Despite some of the negative press, I quite liked the live action Ghost in the Shell.  If you haven’t seen the original anime,  it is worth a watch.

Set in the future when cybernetics are as common as hip replacements are now, Major (aptly played by Scarlett Johansson) wakes as the first of her kind  – a human brain in a fully robotic body.  She is immediately drafted as a soldier in the war against terrorism, an unstoppable machine with all the power and intuition of a human mind housed in an unfeeling shell made for combat.

The pacing is very… anime (slow beats between fast-cut action) and I can see why some American audiences, used to the Fast & Furious type action movie, may find it discordant.

Some have complained about “white washing” the movie but I would argue that casting Scarlett Johansson as Major made total sense, especially given that Juliette Binoche played Dr. Ouelet.  Major looks very much like she could be the doctor’s daughter, which in many ways she is.

The movie is flawed, but mostly because there wasn’t enough time to fully develop some of the themes of the original. I wish it could have been a Netflix series. That would have given it the bandwidth to explore things like Kuza’s human mind network, the nature of memory and the soul.

More could have been done to build the tension between Kuza and Major.  There really wasn’t that much dialog to work with but It would have been nice to have seen more push/pull, attraction/revulsion in their body language.  The relationship between Batou and Major was very clear. You could see the trust, the friendship between them.  With Kuza, I didn’t feel much of anything.  Perhaps it was simply a lack of chemistry between actors.

One note – Takeshi Kitano as Aramaki was BAD ASS.  I would love to see him steal some scenes opposite Samuel L Jackson.

The biggest selling point for seeing Ghost in the Shell in the theater is the special effects. This movie is stunningly beautiful.  Set design and makeup are flawless. I especially loved how they adapted Batou’s eyes from the anime to the live action.  The city scenes are fantastic and made me long for a live-action version of Neuromancer.

PG-13 for violence


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