By Cody Lamoreau (Bath, Maine)
“They made me, but they cannot control me.” Many films or film concepts have been receiving the live-action treatment from Hollywood. Disney films have seen stupendous results; most recently with The Beauty and The Beast. Unfortunately popular animations, such as Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z have received the same kind of adaptations, with less than popular results. In the form of the unforgettably horrendous Dragon Ball: Evolution.
This weekend an adaptation of the very successful animation Ghost in the Shell (1995) created by Mamoru Oshii has been released. The drive to the theater was a little nerve racking, and after departing from the theater I was left with mixed feelings of surprise and disappointment.
At some point in the distant future, nearly all of humanity has been enhanced. Most of the population has been turned into almost completely machine. There is one who is different, that is the Major (Portrayed by Scarlet Johansson) who has the very different attribute how containing a human brain inside of a synthetic body. Because of this difference, The Major is the strongest of the humanoid forms on planet Earth. While being part of a secret military force, The Major encounters certain situations that make her start to question, what it means to be human and who she is.
Visually this movie is a masterpiece. The overall look of the future was very realistic and very beautiful; although most of it is undoubtedly CGI. The futuristic look also allows for the audience to wonder if that will be what our future looks like. The themes which take place about the difference between man and machine, are compelling and keep the intrigue throughout the film. Finally the action scenes are very well choreographed and the performances across the board were phenomenal. Johansson gave the most emotionally strong of all the actors in the film and provided a great deal of humanity in a world of robotics.
Unfortunately the rest of the film falls into a subpar mess. Although the story is intriguing and has all the potential in the world, it has a problem with pacing. After the first initial action scene, which is very reminiscent of The Matrix or Blade Runner, the film slows down. The Major is left wondering what it means to be human, but she isn’t doing anything compelling enough to answer the question. The Major is wondering around and hanging with dogs.
There was also a few action scenes made almost completely from slow motion. The slow motion felt unwanted and boring. The villainous element in the film, was interesting at first. Kuzi, who the major discovers is very much like herself in many ways, was by far the most interesting part of The Ghost in the Shell. He allowed for the bigger questions such as ‘was it humanity?’ ‘Where are the lines blurred?’ to be asked. Unfortunately there is another villain introduced in the later part of the film, who feels unnecessary and useless.
In the end Ghost in the Shell is a beautiful interesting mess. Everybody in the film did a great job, but it was not able to juggle it’s very mature subject matter with the story. Now that being said I would like to see another film in this universe. There is enough good subject matter to lock the audience in, but with the 2017 adaptation of this popular anime, it feels like they may have missed the mark entirely.