By Jonathan DaSilva (New Bedford)
At $120 Million, Hollywood unveils their take on the anime masterpiece, Ghost in the Shell. From its exterior, Ghost in the Shell conveys the tale of a cybernetic operative, The Major (Scarlett Johansson) leading Section 9 to stop a mysterious hacker known as Kuze that’s creating chaos in futuristic Tokyo, it’s an enthralling sci-fi story.
2017’s Ghost in the Shell isn’t a perfect movie by no means. It’s definitely not a Xerox of the anime as substantial changes have been made from the original anime while utilizing elements and scenes from Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. The uniqueness that embedded the original anime is devoid in the live action remake and in its place is a story told before in Blade Runner and RoboCop.
Scarlett Johansson stars as The Major, the world’s most advanced cyborg, and someone more machine than human. Her body – the shell in Ghost in the Shell – is almost entirely cybernetic, save for the only organic implant in the shell, her brain which is her “ghost”. Although her body is the product of the privately owned Hanka Corp, The Major works as an elite agent of Section 9, a government counterterrorist force headed up by Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano), while working alongside fellow Section 9 agents Batou (Pilou Asbaek) and Togusa (Chin Han) to hunt down the mysterious hacker known as Kuze (Michael Pitt). As the Major gets sucked into the hunt for Kuze, the truth behind her origins begins to unravel.
As The Major, Johansson delivers a good performance as a human being trapped inside a cybernetic shell that’s technically the property of Hanka Corp. Apart from questions of what it means to be human, especially when you have no recollection of your own past, The Major struggles with issues of consent.
As stated the film is changed up from the source material so it’s more digestible to a mainstream audience. The plot reminded me of a hodgepodge of Blade Runner and RoboCop. Director Sanders is solid at replicating great action images but some of them we’ve seen time and time again.
The controversy that surrounded Johansson’s casting was unfounded especially the way the film is crafted. Sure the case could be made to have an Asian actress for the role of The Major but from my perspective, Johansson was the right choice.
I can’t say enough about the design work, which comes from the mad men at Weta Workshop, the same design shop that worked on the film, Warcraft. Current sci-fi is plagued by the color palette of stale, tired colors but GiTS is set in a world permeated in neon, LED panels, and towering holograms peddling items projected on skyscrapers in futuristic Tokyo. It’s a world that’s bursting with life, but empty inside concurrently – an eerie parallel for The Major.
If you’re a purist of the original, you’ll probably have issues but if you haven’t seen the original and you enjoy Blade Runner and RoboCop, you’ll probably enjoy this.Maybe if you’re open minded and you see the anime before you may enjoy this take.
I’m the type that’s open minded so I actually enjoyed this despite some of its flaws.