Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell (2017)
The live action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell borrows a few sequences from the beloved anime, but offers its own take on the story and introduces new themes. Director Rupert Sanders and writers Jamie Moss and William Wheeler do a decent job of creating some interesting visuals, some that are reminiscent of Blade Runner and the Matrix, and a easier to follow story. However, easier to follow isn’t necessarily better and a lot of the human conversations of the anime have been removed weakening some of the relationships.
Ghost in the Shell is entertaining
This version of the story offers the origin of Major (Scarlett Johansson) and the creation of the first human brain, spirit, or ghost to be integrated into a robotic body, or shell. Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche) successfully achieves this “miracle” and Cutter (Peter Ferdinando) of Hanka says Major is a weapon and will head Section 9. Cut to a year later and the action sequences, that borrows from imagery of the anime, shows Major in full camouflage utilizing bullet time as she attempts to rescue the humans, cybernetically enhanced, in the room.
Scarlett Johansson’s take on Major was laughable at times. She takes this odd looking, hunched shoulders posture as she moves. Assuming the idea to do this was inspired by her character’s body being a robotic shell, it’s clear the element of her being a human spirit controlling the robot body was not taken into account. Her line reads aren’t all bad, but there is definitely some odd delivery that leads to dialogue sounding kind of rough.
Batou is played well by Pilou Asbæk, but the character’s significance to the story is downgraded quite a bit. It some ways, this downgrade actually helps where the anime didn’t allow Major to be the powerful hero she should be. Yet, as noted earlier, a lot of the conversations between Togusa, who is replaced by a few other team members in the live action, and Major really give some insight into their personalities and relationships. That is removed from this film almost completely in lieu of simpler exposition and a new relationship between Major and her creator.
Overall, Ghost in the Shell is mildly entertaining story that discusses the need and reliance on technology that humans have developed and the dangers of companies having too much power. Most of the visuals are solid, but there are some weaker moments of CG in some of the later action sequences that seems like they may have gone over budget. Fan of the original may find some moments brought to life great, but could be upset with the story changes. Ghost in the Shell earns the Decent Watch rating.