By: Oberst von Berauscht –
Major Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson) is a cyborg, her entire body having been replaced with robotic parts, other than her brain. While having body parts replaced or “upgraded” with robotics is common, she’s the first of her kind with a complete body transplant. She works for Section 9, an anti-terrorist unit that is working to uncover and capture a criminal who has been hacking into the brains of robotically enhanced people all over the city. Meanwhile, Mira is experiencing weird visions, glitches in her mind that are starting to reveal more to her past than she knew existed, and the cover-up that changes her forever.
Director Rupert Sanders brings a lot of life to the world of Ghost in the Shell, presenting the world as a Cyberpunk fanboy’s dream. While Bladerunner was the template for so many of these ideas, the size and sheer scope that Sanders gets to craft his world is impressive. While I haven’t experienced any of the other Ghost in the Shell properties other than the 1995 film, I imagine some of the ideas are pulled from the greater universe of the franchise. Though there is so much to admire here visually, Sanders really reproduces the feel of an Anime universe within a photorealistic context. Visually, the action is very well staged, as it makes use of creative camera angles and solid choreography. Too many modern action movies hide the action with numerous fast-cuts.
While Ghost in the Shell departs from the story of the 1995 original in a multitude of notable ways, it successfully finds a narrative of its own to explore. I wouldn’t call the new narrative particularly original, but it provides enough interesting spins on the “lost identity” subject to keep things interesting. Scarlett Johansson underplays her character perfectly. She is a walking science experiment, a brain in a human head-shaped jar with a robotic body around it. Her psyche very believably conveys the sense of confusion and detachment that would likely result from such an experience.
Ghost in the Shell manages to feel both under and overwritten at times. The movie desperately tries to cram what feels like an Encyclopedia worth of ideas and concepts into 100 minutes of screen time. Events take place so quickly that the film really never takes time to get to know its characters. There are lots of cool little character moments in the film that feel hopelessly nerfed by the lack of a context for their motivations. Fortunately the cast is strong enough to at least make their scenes interesting, even if the script cannot.
What separates the 1995 Anime film from this is primarily the lack of existential musing. The original film delved deeply into the nature of consciousness, where the lines should be drawn between humanity and machine. And like many smart explorations of deep concepts it arrives at no obvious conclusions, but plenty of new and interesting questions. Watching the 2017 film, I can almost hear the studio notes asking whether audiences will demand extra butter topping with their Philosophy lesson.
While not as smartly written as the Anime, Ghost in the Shell still presents a visually creative near-future with some smartly shot action. Ultimately, though, it feels like a promising first episode of an ongoing TV series, rather than a self-contained feature movie.
Ghost in the Shell (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for cyberpunk body-horror
Take a Drink: for not really nude but kinda nude, but actually she’s a robot so I guess that means its ok that she’s nude, even though technically she isn’t really nude since its not human skin nudity. (My brain hurts)
Take a Drink: every time the sun shines (umm… does it ever?)
Do a Shot: for every scoff from a fanboy whenever the film does something differently than the Anime