Sunday, 2 April 2017

Ghost in the Shell

Year of Release:  2017
Director:  Rupert Sanders
Screenplay:  Jamie Moss, William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger, based on the manga The Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow
Starring:  Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbaek, Chin Han, Juliette Binoche
Running Time:  106 minutes
Genre:  Science-fiction, action, cyberpunk

In the future, cybernetic enhancements to humans are commonplace.  Major Mira Killian (Johansson) is the first of a new breed, a human brain placed in a synthetic body.  She works for the elite anti-terrorist bureau Section Nine, on the trail of a new type of cyber-criminal who uses people's implants to hack into their minds and souls (or "ghosts") to control them.  As she pursues this mysterious figure, the Major begins to uncover disturbing secrets about her past.

The 1989 manga series The Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow, has already inspired several animated movies and TV shows in it's native Japan, most notably the groundbreaking 1995 anime classic.  All remakes tend to provoke controversy among fans of the originals, and this was especially true for this film, an American remake of a distinctly Japanese story, and the casting of Scarlett Johansson provoked furore, with accusations of whitewashing.  I am not going to go into the argument here, because I am not best placed to discuss it.
The film is an exciting science-fiction action, that has the feel of a very 1980s or 90s cyberpunk thriller.  The action is exciting and the visual effects are stunning, creating an eye-popping city of the future.  It's the visuals that really impresses here, and it needs to be seen on the biggest screen possible, if you can, try and see it in IMAX.  For all the criticism, Scarlett Johansson gives a fine performance, as the Major.  Her distinctive statuesque beauty is perfect for a robot.  Fans of the original should be warned that a lot of the plot details are altered, much of the philosophical and spiritual elements have been excised, and a new conspiracy mystery has been added.          
Fans of futuristic action-adventures will probably find plenty to enjoy here, but aside from all the visual wonder, it just feels kind of ordinary, without the depth and richness of the original.

   Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell

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