Ghost in the Shell is an adaptation of the 1995 anime film of the same name. Set in the near future, much of humanity has embraced cybernetic enhancements and to a certain extend, cybernetic body, or “Shell”, that houses a human brain. With the line between human and robot blurred, cyber-terriorists can now hack into, and toy with a person’s psyche, or “Ghost”. The 2017 film follows Section 9, an anti-terroism unit and focuses on the struggles of Major. Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson), the first fully cybernetic human.
The original film, directed by Mamoru Oshii, was perhaps one of the most influential anime films to date. It was a perfect blend of stunning visuals and compelling story telling that challenged my perception of being a human. What is the true definition of being a human? Is human consciousness housed in a cybernetic “Shell” still a human? That original film boldly and cleverly packaged those questions into a riveting narrative, which I admit, took me several viewings to fully appreciate.
So, is the 2017 Ghost in the Shell successful in replicating the magic of the original?
Not quite, but certainly not for lack of trying.
I enjoyed this film a lot. Visually it was a thing of beauty. It painted a colourful and vibrant future where technology permeates our lives. Robots and cybernetic bodies were extremely well crafted and all the action scenes, especially ones with the “Major” were breathtakingly artistic. Scarlett Johansson fits the role extremely well, bringing over her Black Widow flair. For a property that is unknown to most western audiences, I believe she is the perfect lead.
Where this film falters is in its narrative. The first half of the film showed glimpses of the original with the Major questioning her existence and identity as a human cyborg. Unfortunately, these themes were forgotten in the second half and we were left with a cliche plot line and an one dimensional villain. With that said, I still enjoyed it. It was a decent attempt at laying down the ground work for future films.
To be honest, I want this film to do well. It’s about time Hollywood tap into the rich anime culture and bring us live-action adaptations of Akira, Cowboy Bebop and maybe even Black Lagoon. Just don’t give us another stinking garbage like Dragon Ball Evolution.
Rating: A decent introduction to Ghost in the Shell. Give it a shot and if you want more, there is always the original.