“Ghost in the Shell” stars Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han, and Juliette Binoche. Released on March 31, 2017, the film is about a cyborg field commander who faces an enemy who’s planning on sabotaging artificial intelligence technology.
The film is directed by Rupert Sanders, who is known for directing Snow White and the Huntsman. It is based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. This is not the first time that the manga has been adapted into a feature film. Back in 1995, there was an anime (Japanese animation) version of the manga, which is considered by many critics as one of the best anime films of all time. Sadly, I have not seen the 1995 version, but I would like to get to that someday. As a result, I will be taking a look at this adaptation as its own film without any knowledge of the source material.
The first thing I should talk about is Johansson’s portrayal as The Major. In case you haven’t notice, this casting choice caused a lot of people to accuse the film of whitewashing. Just like the Ghostbusters controversy, this type of controversy is absolutely pointless and a complete waste of time. I really like Johansson in most of her movies, especially the ones from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I was pretty excited to see her take on a role like this. I’m happy to say that she did a very nice job in portraying a character who’s questioning not only her task force, but also herself. The rest of the cast also put out some pretty good performances, especially Asbæk, who gives out an entertaining performance as Batou. The visuals in this film were undeniably impressive as it showcases the film’s style, futuristic setting, and cybernetic designs with flawless results. While those qualities were capable enough to create a sci-fi movie experience, they're not enough to fulfill my expectations. Rupert Sanders knows how to make this entire world look pleasing and dark, but his storytelling could’ve used some more upgrades. The story wasn’t that hard to follow, but it’s something that you got to pay attention to. It’s mostly about the journey of self-identity, but it wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. I was interested all the way through, don’t get me wrong, but the overall story failed to make me feel more connected to these characters and its themes. Heck, even the action sequences weren’t that thrilling despite the fact that they’re nice to look at. There were also some scenes that felt a bit slow or dull. There have been a lot of sci-fi films I’ve seen that are filled with gripping action sequences and entertaining stories. This film, however, is best described as a well-built cybernetic being with an empty soul.
Overall, The 2017 live-action adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell” is a nice visual treat that’s filled with some unavoidable glitches, including its underwhelming storytelling. On the bright side, it does get me more interested in seeing the 1995 anime version. It’s just a matter of when and how. It’s definitely worth seeing for the film’s visual effects and Johansson’s performance as The Major. However, it would be hard for me to recommend it to those who are familiar with the source material and those who are not. It was disappointing in some cases, but it does have some features that made it watchable.