Ghost In The Shell centres around Major (Scarlett Johansson), a refugee whose boat sunk, and she was almost brown bread, but the powers that be used pioneering techniques to bring her back to life.
On the plus side, she has the same brain and mind, but a whole new body, so she’s very much like Robocop. Still, she looks a lot better in the form of Ms Johansson than ol’ metal head.
Set in the near future, everyone’s getting cyber-enhancements, which actually sounds like a pretty cool way to go, especially for one chap who’s been enhanced so he can drink more without feeling the effects! Alas, terrorists in the near future are engaging in cerebral hacking, so they can see into your mind, so that’s another well-used trope.
Attempting to stop them in their tracks is Major – now she’s been souped-up with her revolutionary new bod, which is the first of her kind – along with Batou (Borgen‘s Pilou Asbæk). Quite how she’s been put into that role is never explained, other than the company keeping her alive, so she owes them that debt, at least. However, her memories of her past are glitchy. Why can’t she remember what she was like when younger? And why do they keep breaking down-Matrix-style? This echoes the character of Alice from Resident Evil.
I’ve never read the original Manga anime by Masamune Shirow – which was set in 2029, although while I did see the 1995 movie (on DVD in 2000), I can’t remember too much offhand without rewatching it, but looking back on my review, it was alright, but nothing I’d rush to watch again. The era for this live-action remake is not specified, so this was my first foray into his celebrated work, but here, while it looked slick, I found it quite soulless. Yes, I checked my brain at the door (unlike Major can), and didn’t expect too much from this, but after an opening shootout (which looked quite santised to fit in with a 12A certificate) a lot of what followed in the first hour didn’t make a lick of sense. I tried to go with it, but got bored fairly often, just enjoying the visuals from time to time.
The film’s other problem is that it’s lacking in humour – there’s a bit, but not nearly enough. This makes me wonder whether they were intentionally going for a dour look throughout, which I can only presume means it’s staying true to the source material, but I’ll need to check that film to see for myself.
Back to the scenery et al, the film wasn’t shot in 3D, but it comes across as one of the best post-production 3D films I’ve seen. Usually in cases lke this, when elements onscreen come right at the camera, and are at the very front, they tend to distort and it’s a bit unpleasant. However, I saw zero distortion, here. You can watch this film with confidence, in that respect.
Another question, though – why don’t weapons of the future have infinite bullets? Rather than changing rifle magazines, why not just have them make 3D-printed bullets on the fly? They can create a body for someone, so the sky’s the limit!
Oh, and since they can build the perfect body for you… perhaps they could eradicate my excema?
Early on, this live-action movie was accused of “white-washing” – i.e. the character is Asian, yet the actress playing her is not. In fact, Ms Johansson hails from Stockport, Greater Manchester… (OOPS! Fake news!) I mean, New York. However, the anime’s creator, Masamune Shirow, has gone on record as saying that while the character is Asian, it’s not a problem if the actress is not. Personally, I would’ve preferred an Asian actress. Everyone knows Asian women are the hottest on Earth. It’s a scientific fact! There’s no actual evidence for it, but it IS a scientific fact.
And on a Monday, so only the fifth day of release and in the Odeon Trafford Centre IMAX on a Monday afternoon (and where it is showing all week), just as the Easter holidays have begun for many schools, the place was almost empty. Okay, so the screen and audio certainly benefitted from what we were shown in the film, but I was wondering if this film was actually going to get an audience. All that said, we did have a rare hot weather day in Manchester, and the Odeon IMAX Premier Seat prices there are an obscene £18.35 apiece.
Running time: 107 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures UK
Cinema: Odeon, Trafford Centre
Format: 1.85:1 (ARRIRAW (6.5K))
Released: March 30th 2017
Director: Rupert Sanders
Producers: Ari Arad and Michael Costigan
Screenplay: Jamie Moss, William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger (based on the comic “The Ghost in the Shell” by Masamune Shirow)
Music: Lorne Balfe and Clint Mansell
Major: Scarlett Johansson
Batou: Pilou Asbæk
Aramaki: ‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano
Dr. Ouelet: Juliette Binoche
Kuze: Michael Carmen Pitt
Han: Chin Han
Ladriya: Danusia Samal
Ishikawa: Lasarus Ratuere
Saito: Yutaka Izumihara
Borma: Tawanda Manyimo
Cutter: Peter Ferdinando
Dr. Dahlin: Anamaria Marinca
Skinny Man: Daniel Henshall
Bearded Man: Mana Davis
Ouelet’s Assistant: Natarsha Orsman
Dr. Osmund: Michael Wincott (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.