Ghost in the Shell is set in the near future where 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.
Whether or not you were a fan of the original 1995 film this adaptation took some serious inspiration from or the series that followed it, this film was rather a disappointment. Visually, it was great and set up an amazing futuristic Japan. Everything about the design to how it was shot truly portrayed the atmosphere of the anime with its depressingly decaying city an impressively built world we were being brought into, though the advertisements that appear throughout the cityscape don’t really make sense as to what they’re advertising in the first place. The general feel and look over the world, and characters for that matter, are on point but this is only generally. There were changes made, and some for more obvious reasons like protagonist Major (Scarlett Johansson) not being totally naked but wearing a skin tight suit instead.
However, in saying all of this, wasn’t great by all other means.
The script is a heavy player in why this film failed in the first place, apart from the whitewashing of the film where a stupid enough excuse was given as to explain why Major was white instead of being played by a more than capable Japanese actress. The point of the matter is, is that there was absolutely no reason why the entire cast couldn’t have been Japanese, either.
It wasn’t as fleshed out as the original that has such an attention to detail, it does essentially tell the same story. If it were the same, Ghost in the Shell would be attacked for being an unnecessary remake, and in essence, it is. Why are so many pieces of media being remade into television shows or films when they don’t need to? And that includes sequels and prequels and an all manner of other things that should be just left alone. Hollywood needs to let the classics be and not to be so afraid to create something new for once.
This remake was a simplified version of its source material. Everything that had made it so great in the first place had been watered down. It’s a generic, fill in the dots script that explained an origin story with no flair or excitement, and doesn’t even attempt to delve into the ethical or philosophical implications of dealing with a story like this. It’s as if Ghost in the Shell just exists to build on an already popular universe just so they can make money. It’s a sad but truthful reality of studio films — money is key and artistry doesn’t exist further than the visual. Unfortunately, now, the marketplace has become over saturated with simplistically thin plot where there’s hardly any grey areas and pumped full of filler scenes. Character’s are bland and uninterested and giving us nothing to care about with the end ultimately unsatisfying.
Unlike the mess that was The Last Airbender, which is ultimately something that a lot of people don’t want to talk about and completely ignore all together, including actor Dev Patel in a Oscar best supporting actor roundtable with the Hollywood Reporter earlier this year, Ghost in the Shell still remains somewhat intact in being a relatively watchable film, despite being devoid of any emotion or feeling and really just being a ghost in a shell of a movie. Ghost in the Shell is not a film that was destroyed as some may say because a film that was destroyed would be something like the aforementioned Last Airbender.
Ghost in the Shell is okay but by no means as good as the original, whether you were a fan or not. It’s watchably bland.