In 1995 Ghost in the Shell directed by Mamoru Oshii and based on the manga by Shirow Masamune was released, since then it’s become something a cult anime classic. When I watched the film as a kid, I found it to be a bore, it’s deeper questions asked about life and what makes us human was lost on me. Similarly the same year I watched Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, which I also found to be boring and its more minutiae details lost on me. Where both films featured action and cool sci-fi worlds, they asked deeper things of the audience. The 2017 film based on Masamune’s manga is none of these things and it’s boring to me for all the wrong reasons.

Scarlett Johansson plays Mira, a woman who is saved after a terrorist attack and has her brain inserted in a new cyborg body. She is created with one purpose: to be the first of her kind and prove a technology for the company that created her, Hanka. Put to work in a counter-terrorism beauru, Section 9, Mira becomes Major and works well in her new position. She then meets Kuze, a hacker who is killing people across the city and he challenges everything Mira thought she knew about herself.

What Mira remembers about herself is little as well, her memories are mostly gone from before her ordeal. Her partner Batou asks about her past with a general care for her, but Mira often seems gone to the more robotic side of herself.

The story in Ghost in the Shell isn’t terrible, it’s rather simple and could have served to set this up as a franchise enjoyable by everyone, but it’s not enjoyable. If the original anime treated its audience like adults and never tried to over-explain what is happening on screen to you, this version does the complete opposite. Characters will often have forced conversations about what you just witnessed on screen with them; expedition is added with what seems no faith in the audience’s level to grasp a very simple story. Because when it comes down to it, this version of Ghost in the Shell is heavily pushed into ‘she’s lost her memory’ trope as Mira tries to remember her past.

Johansson does her best to make something of Mira and gives a great physical performance to try and bring the Major from the original film and the anime to life, but her character is lifeless. Not lifeless as a pun on her cyborg nature, but simply uninspired. Johansson brings to life the anime’s stoic nature of major and the physical stature but misses the deeper emotional character journey.

Pilou Asbaek is Batou is the only character at all seeming to resemble a real person in this Neo-Tokyo world. Batou shows real emotion and cares for The Major, he feeds strays dogs and he’s bad-ass. Pilou also brings Batou to life perfectly from the anime.

Juliette Binoche and Peter Ferdinando must have thought they were making a B movie for the sci-film channel their performances are so bad. Which is unfortunate because you can tell Johansson is trying so hard to make this a character she can hopefully work on in another film, but she’s acting next to two people at times who appear to be in a different movie.

The one thing Ghost in the Shell gets right is the world. Neo-Tokyo looks great. Paired with a Clint Mansell score and some re-done pieces from the original anime, this is a great looking and sounding film.

Rupert Sanders has managed to direct a terrible script into a good looking display in homage to Ghost in the Shell. It looks like Ghost in the Shell, and it sounds like Ghost in the Shell should sound, but don’t get too close because you will realize just how shallow this film and its character unfortunately are.

Ghost in the Shell has lots of eye candy sure, and it may look like the original material, but it’s soulless — it’s a shell without no ghost.


Review By Dylan Blight

Review By Dylan Blight