Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

“They created me. But they can not control me.”

Ghost in the Shell is the live action adaptation of the 1995 anime film of the same name. 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. The film stars Scarlett Johansson (The Major), Pilou Asbaek (Batou), Takeshi Kitano (Beat), Juliette Binoche (Dr. Ouelet), Michael Pitt (Kuze), and Chin Han (Han). I haven’t watched the 1995 version in quite some time but I will watch it soon. But for now, here are my thoughts on the latest anime live action adaptation.

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The plot is structured as a mix of the original anime movies as well as Stand Alone Complex. We follow Major’s personal struggle with identity, while also unraveling a mystery with Section 9. The narrative is pretty clunky in the beginning since there’s a lot of really cheesy and hamfisted dialogue, but as the film progresses the characters develop a bond that actually works fairly well, and by the end, I was really enjoying it. If anything, besides the visuals the best part of this movie was its storytelling. The way we watch these characters grow and unravel the mysteries around them really does work. The way we see Major’s perspective is done in an interesting way while also moving the story forward and watching Section 9 work individually and as a unit kept me very entertained. Scarlett Johansson being cast for the role, she actually did a great job and resembled the character a lot. Loved Pilou Asbæk as Batou as he resembled the character extremely well.

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Kuze, the villain, I expected to be generic failure project cyberman who’s just misunderstood, but he’s given plenty of depth and I genuinely liked his character by the end of the movie. I even got over his annoying voice as it makes sense for why his voice sounds that way. Dr. Cutter, CEO of Hanka, was boring as hell. He’s as bland and generic “EVIL DOCTOR CORPORATE MAN” as it gets and has zero depth or development besides being a big meanie *frowny face emoji* the weakest part of the film besides the soundtrack.

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My biggest gripe was the lack of ANY memorable soundtrack. I can’t remember a single song, none of the Kenji Kawaii or Yoko Kano music is present, and there’s not much use of music at all. Another issue this movie will have is a lot of the dialogue is forced, with some characters being bland and one dimensional, although other characters are really well fleshed out as well. Visually this movie is really well directed. There are several sequences pulled directly from the animes while there are also some cool sequences of its own. There are some beautiful shots that have a lot going on with the city with all the holograms which remind me of the Prequels, but overall the rest of the movie is very visually pleasing and Weta did a fantastic job.

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The movie works. It’s fun to watch and has a TON OF REFERENCES to all the franchise, not just the first movie. It genuinely tried being its own entry while staying true to the core. It’s not really too deep or anything game changing, but it has its own story while making plenty of nods to the source materials. There are some philosophical ideas asked but for the most part, it’s less grandiose and we just watch Major struggle with her memories and who she actually is. Yes, there could have been more philosophical themes but then this movie was an Origin Story and so it was centered around Major which I had no problem with. I very much hope to see a sequel and then they can get more into the philosophical themes about humanity, cyborgs, life and death. I was entertained throughout and the pacing was just right: not too short nor too long. Even if you are not familiar with the Anime, if you are a fan of films like Blade Runner, definitely go out and see this!

SUPERSAM RATING: ★★★★

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