Ghost In The Shell is one of the most beloved anime on the face of the earth. The original movie, based on the omonimous manga, was released in 1995, and it was praised for its ambiguity regarding the characters and the mystery of the story. The film was explaining basically nothing but just narrating through action and just really minimum exposition through dialogue, which weren’t always that clear anyways.
What the anime explained ten minutes in is the concept of ‘Ghost’ (the self-consciousness in the human brain) and ‘Shell’ (the robotic body the human brain gets installed on), through a dialogue.
In this live action Hollywood version we are told through opening title cards what she is, even if she’s not directly mentioned. Then, we see her creation once opening title starts (by the way, the name of the movie is shown twice here).
Needless to say that the movie compared to the original anime film is an exposition orgy, beyond simplifying the plot too.
As other reviewers already highlighted, 1995 Ghost In The Shell was revolving around Motoko thinking what’s her existence purpose, while in 2017 Ghost In The Shell the Major starts a quest finding out who she was before becoming the perfect cyborg. There’s no need to say why one can provide a deepful journey of self-consciousness, while the other just becomes accounting a series of events.
The script is overall the worst thing of the movie. Even though there’s nothing really wrong with it (every character has a proper arch, nothing randomly happens), the fact that hands down loses the comparison with the original is overall a bummer. Consequently there’s nothing really wrong with the editing either, even though I’d cut the way too revealing opening. Once again, like for another adaptation earlier this month, the sense of mystery is watered down.
What this live-action nails are the visuals. Besides the characters resemblance with their anime counterparts (won’t take on whitewashing though), the city look is phenomenal, as well as the costumes design and all the locations, immersing us in this futuristic world, which some might define an extremist version of Blade Runner‘s.
The cinematography also does a good job. We are not at Kong: Skull Island level of surprise (given the genre of course), but it clearly has personality and it always provide clarity in the action.
The action sequences are great as expected, as they are well choreographed and almost tell a story within the story (which is the best idea to follow for them), however is nothing we never really saw before.
The cast is fine, Scarlett Johansson confirms to be the best female lead in action movies, which is all that really matters anyways. Her supporting cast is fine, especially Danish actor Pilou Asbæk (who plays Batou), and Michael Pitt (an actor that has always been overlook by Hollywood without a real justification).
Being the movie PG-13, the violence is watered down, the language also and there’s no nudity (which was used multiple times in the anime), even though ScarJo’s suit are highlighting her curves. I won’t lie, is visually pleasing.
However, does this Ghost In The Shall pass the test? To me, with all its flaws, yes. And it’s a movie worth watching at least once, as it will provide a fun time anyway. And of course, movies like The Matrix or Inception being released in the past two decades sorta hurt this movie, as the infamous deja vu feeling is always behind the corner.
Another director instead of ‘safe choice’ Rupert Sanders would have helped? It might, but we won’t ever know for sure (there’s nothing really wrong with it either, also). And I agree it generally deserved to be a more meaningful movie.
Anyways, you might have fun if you just don’t go into it expecting a faithful adaptation of the anime.