Ghost in the Shell, American movie (2017)

So, it has finally arrived. A movie that has been covered in controversy ever since it was announced that the lead for it would be played by Scarlett Johansson. Accused of whitewashing, this movie was doomed right from the start. Most diehard fans  announced they would be avoiding it like the plague, and it has already received quite a few negative reviews. But the question one really needs to ask oneself is can you keep an open mind after a movie has received such a bad reputation before it even appears in theatres? Everybody is saying it, so it must be the truth right? Well….wrong. I think a movie of any kind is a personal experience. I always judge a movie for myself, no matter how many reviews say it is good…or bad. And so it was for this live action version for the anime classic Ghost in the Shell.

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The future. A young woman almost gets killed in a terrorist attack. Her original body is all but destroyed, but her brain survives and is transferred into a new high tech prostethic body. Henceforth she is known as the Major. Seeing the value of her and her new capabilities, the Major is transferred to the mysterious organisation called section Nine, by the people who rebuild her. Section Nine takes on a variety of missions to protect the society from dangerous individuals. It is not long before a new and mysterious cybercriminal appears known only as Kuze. It is up to the Major and the rest of section Nine to stop him. But just what does Kuze want? When a number of people get killed by him, Kuze soon begins to focus his attention on the Major. But she has her own struggles and is constantly questioning her humanity. When the truth comes out about Kuze’s real motivations, her whole world is turned upside down. A truth that is so horrible, that it might destroy her very soul….

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Now let me just state for the record that I am a massive Ghost in the Shell fan. The Major has been and always shall be my favorite alltime animecharacter. As such I was very anxious about this film. Did the movie succeed in capturing the ghost of the original? Or would it just be another empty shell? Well I can say that it definitely succeeded in the first. The first thing that I really enjoyed about this film were the visual aspects of it. Director Rupert Sanders has created a hightech world that in many ways borrows and improves upon the world created in the scifi classic Bladerunner. It all is a true visual feast for your eyes, and it is one of those films in which you will discover new aspects of the fantastic CGI world they made, every time you watch it.

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The original Ghost in the Shell anime had a multilayered storyline, with heavy underlying themes contained within it. This version has been stripped down and as such is easier to follow. It still has a few of the themes remaining, such as what really makes us human, but the best way to describe it is Ghost in the Shell light. Hardcore fans of the classic anime might be put off by this. I was not bothered by it in the least. I think it still manages to recreate the atmosphere of the original anime, while also putting a twist of it’s own in it. Many keyscenes of the animated version were recreated, and that was another thing that I really enjoyed.

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And now ofcourse to adress the issue that has made the film so controversial. Has the casting of Scarlett in the role of the Major damaged the film? First off I have to say that she did a fine job of recreating this beloved character. She manages to recapture a lot of the aspects of the Major that make it such a great character in the first place. I do think that if the part had been played by an Asian actress, it would have captured the essence of the character better. Even though the film tries it’s best to feel Asian, it’s American roots do shine through in the movie. But to simply call it a failure because of that is just too harsh. As for the rest of the cast I felt they were a bit underdeveloped. Most of the rest of section Nine had minor roles, except for Batou played by actor Pilou Asbæk. This was pretty much the Major’s movie, and I was fine with that.

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Needless to say I highly enjoyed this live action version of Ghost in the Shell. Was it perfect? No, there were definitely aspects to the film that might have been done better. But all in all this was a highly entertaining science fiction movie, that fans of the original anime will enjoy, except for maybe the real hardcore fans. The gorgeous visuals, a couple of truly spectacular action sequences, paired with a pretty good storyline make this a great movie for every science fiction lover out there.

I give Ghost in the Shell a 9 out of 10 score.

 

 

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47 thoughts on “Ghost in the Shell, American movie (2017)”

  1. I don’t imagine I will see this film until it becomes available on streaming services as I never followed the anime (I watched the odd one, which were good enough but I never got the big picture). It’s a bold move giving it 9, given the furore, but you have to be able to suspend disbelief. Scarlett Johannsen isn’t asian. She isn’t a cyborg either, nor is she russian (Black Widow). They probably should have cast an asian actress as it is in keeping with the character, but that in itself isn’t a reason to not watch from my point of view. Incidentally, have you ever seen the movie Pontypool? I recently wrote about it (briefly and in another context) on my second blog and it occured to me that it might be the sort of thing you’d enjoy. here is the link to the blog, https://sharp-writing.com/2017/04/03/pontypool-how-changing-an-old-idea-can-work/ , and I believe Pontypool may be currently available on Amazon prime

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    1. That is exactly what I think. This movie in my opinion, was simply not given a fair chance to begin with. Sure, casting an Asian would have been better, but Scarlett did a very good job in my opinion. I absolutely have the utmost respect for Asian culture in any way, but to simply comdemn the movie only for that reason is taking things to far. It really was done well, and in tradition with the original film, so yes I enjoyed it a lot. Hence the 9 😉 As for Pontypool…I have it in my collection, but have not yet had time to watch the movie. I have heard great things about it though, so I will check it out as soon as I have somewhat more time on my hands 😊 As for your second blog…going to check that one out too 😀😀

      Liked by 4 people

  2. As usually very well written. I could not agreed more about judging a movie before seeing for yourself. I don’t usually trust reviews because I might like the movies. Everyone has theirs own tastes and preferences.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic review! I just watched the film and enjoyed it as a standalone as well. 😀 The original anime had much stronger themes, but Rupert Sanders’ story line is pretty much his own thing. My only gripe is the script’s excessive exposition, which was the same issue I had with the anime, but worse. ><

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you 😊 I like how this movie manages to capture the spirit of the original film in some scenes, but also has it’s own take on it, and story to tell 😊 I agree with the excessive exposition. In the Anime it was definitely worse, and at times I felt completely unnecessary. I am glad you enjoyed the movie as well 😊😊

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    1. The anime is great as well. It is at times difficult to follow and that is what this movie does manage to avoid (which in itself is both a good and a bad thing😊). I hope you are going to enjoy the film as well, when you manage to see it 😊

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  4. “Did the movie succeed in capturing the ghost of the original? Or would it just be another empty shell?”

    Nice wordplay.

    I don’t intend to watch this – I’m prioritizing the original anime movie and SAC series. But yours is the most positive review of this that I’ve seen so far and it was nice to see a happy take on it. Great job, as always 😀

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    1. Haha, thank you. Well, the problem that I think this movie has, is that it simply was not given a fair chance. As I said the movie was already condemned before it even played,and in that way people tend to either avoid it, or go into the theatre with already a bad feeling. I love the original movie and the SAC series are even better, but this was a great outing in that universe as well. I hope you will enjoy the anime, I definitely think you are going to get a kick out of the SAC series 😊😊

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  5. I really enjoyed the Ghost in the Shell animated movie and sometimes I feel It’s unnecessary to ‘reinvent it into a live action one but it seems to work for most people than others and in this case it seems you enjoyed it which is good to hear. Here’s hoping I do too. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. Most live action films, usually tend to be not as good as the original movies. Still there are luckily exceptions to this rule. For instance the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy which I highly enjoyed. (If you are interested there are reviews for all three movies on my blog). This one was truly not a bad attempt at all to recreate the original. Sure it had it’s flaws, but as far as entertainment values go, this one was right up there. If you do eventually see it, I hope you are going to enjoy it as well 😊

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  6. I totally agree with you on that! If a movie, show, or book piques my interest but has a ton of bad reviews I’ll still watch it despite the rating. I’ve come to find a few good stories that way 🙂

    Regardless of all the hate I’d been hearing about it since Scarlett (who I genuinely like as an actress) was cast for the role of Major (something I totally understand) I still planned on seeing the film since I loved the anime. Hearing you say you thought the film captured most of the original’s essence, especially in terms of setting, really bumps up my expectations of this film. Great review!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the kind words as always, really appreciate it 😊 The thing is, I am really beginning to discover a trend in bashing movies just because everybody is doing it. Some movies just don’t get a fair chance, and at times that really can be a shame. Sure, maybe it would have been better to cast an Asian actress for the role, I can agree on that, but to totally avoid the movie only because of that is taking it a bit too far. As said, I thought it was a great movie, and I really hope that you are going to enjoy it too 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ll probaly be checking the movie out, and the the anime itself. Good to know the movie itself is decent, and a “light version.” Gratned, I fear it may spoil things that are done better in the Anime series. What would you say?

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    1. Good question. I see this movie more as extension of the original movie, than a complete remake. There are a few themes and scenes in it that have been taken straight from the original anime movie, but also a couple of new things as well. The animeseries Stand Alone Complex, also took things in a different direction as the movie, so basically they are all a part of the same universe, but do things right in their own way. I think it is safe to see the movie before seeing the anime. As the story is different anyway, I don’t think it will spoil things too much. I hope you will enjoy it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I went to watch the film. Although hey changed the story a bit and the characters were not Asian. I feel it wasn’t a bad film. They should have just named it something else. And not say it’s ghost in the shell. Haha

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  9. After watching this film, I have no idea what anyone is complaining about regarding the actress choice. Actually, I kind of understand because these people didn’t see the movie.

    Sorry if I’m spoiling here, but a huge part of her arc was discovering her origins, and it was hard for her to do that because she’s a fully prosthetic body! She’s not Asian, not white, not any kind of race because she was created in a lab. Not even her brain is “Asian” because of the memory implants. After understanding all this, why does that argument come up that an Asian actress could have played the part better? What basis is there?

    The actual Asian characters were played by Asian actors. “Beat” Takeshi played Aramaki for crying out loud. You can’t get more Japanese than that! The anime did more whitewashing than this movie did. Look at Togusa in the anime and tell me he looks Japanese.

    For a story that’s supposed to be about transcending identity, people sure do make a lot of fuss about putting people in categories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree with you on that. As stated in my review, this movie simply was not given a fair chance to begin with. If a movie already gathering this much controversy when it has not even been released yet, it just simply does more harm than good. And that is what is happening with it now. A real shame, because I really enjoyed it, and thought it was done in a very cool way. I see this one as more of an extensions of the original anime, than a remake. As for the Asian actress debate, I think it would have given it a bit more depth (the characters name is Motoko), but Scarlett simply did a very good job, and I don’t know if having an Asian actress play the part would have changed things much. It seems to become a trend to bash movies that are actually good,and this one is no exception. Thanks for your comment 😀

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  10. I’ve been wanting to watch this one for a while now. I thought the controversy was a bit uncalled for… Everyday, tons of characters who are (supposedly) a certain ethnicity end up being cast by actors of a different one. And no one really sees it as that much of an issue.
    The GITS original director even spoke up about it, and I think his words are worth mentioning:
    “”What issue could there possibly be with casting her?” Oshii told IGN. “The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one. The name ‘Motoko Kusanagi’ and her current body are not her original name and body, so there is no basis for saying that an Asian actress must portray her. Even if her original body (presuming such a thing existed) were a Japanese one, that would still apply.””
    Then again, I’m not a fan of Ghost in the Shell so I will go in not knowing much about it and will probably end up enjoying it a lot because of that.
    Great review, Michel, as always 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I think that is the beauty of this film. Even though it has a few basic themes of the original anime movie in it, it will probably appeal to people who have never seen it, or sci-fi lovers in general. And yes, I agree…it is really a shame that a debate like that has been so overused, that it has pretty much destroyed the movie before it came out. If you do manage to see it, I hope you will enjoy it 😀 And as always thank you for your comment: always appreciate it 😊😊

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      1. Hey again:) So I watched this the other day and I have to say the visuals were stunning! But I felt like I could have appreciated it more had I read the manga/watched the anime beforehand, which I didn’t.
        The story was definitely a bit confusing at times but I could empathize with the Major and her struggles, which was nice. I wish I’d been able to be even more emotionally invested but I guess the pacing didn’t really help with that. Nevertheless, it was quite beautiful to watch and I’ll try the other adaptations soon 🙂

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      2. Well….honestly, the original Anime movie, is even more difficult to follow at times. It has a lot of layers, and it at times makes for a very confusing and tough watch (especially the first time that you watch it). Still it is a beautiful anime, and the series I found to be even better 😊😊 Thank you ver your comment, always enjoy exchanging thoughts with you 😀

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      3. I see. Yeah, I felt that way about the movie so the anime might be even worse hahaha
        No problem! ^^ The feeling is entirely mutual, and I love reading your posts even if takes me a while to get to them… Again, time is not on our side! :/

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for pointing this out. Unfortunately the SJWs of the world, though well meaning in their intent, like to parrot populist rhetoric without first getting the relevant context.

    I’m all for ethnic diversity in movies. It’s my firm belief that the best actor/actress should get the role regardless of race. People just seem to be on this kick to adopt a ‘holier-than-thou’ approach to racial representation in Hollywood. I wonder if these same people would be complaining if the Major was played by a black woman (unfortunately, other people might complain).

    Specifically for this story, it doesn’t surprise me that Mamoru Oshii understands this. Major Kusanagi doesn’t have a race.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow…that is why I always like to exchange thoughts with you: you always manage to make very good points 😉 Could not agree with you more on this. It is definitely starting to become a new trend in some way. And that is what I meant as well, because of something like this, the movie is doomed before it even starts. And that is a real shame 😦

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  12. 9/10, your review is probably the most positive I’ve read about this film. I don’t know if the movie will be for me, but I may check it when it comes on DVD after reading your take.

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    1. I really think the hate train for this film is truly going too far. I was discussing the film with a friend of mine yesterday, and he enjoyed the film as much as I did. A colleague of mine saw the film earlier this week as well, and also highly enjoyed it. As I stated in my review, sometimes it is a kind of trend to bash a movie just because everyone is doing it. I always respect other people’s opinions, and if someone thinks the movie sucks: power to them I would say, but I really don’t think this movie deserves this much hate. It isn’t perfect, but as a lover of all things science fiction, this film truly is exciting. If you do see it one day, I hope you will enjoy it 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I got to see Ghost in the Shell Last night, and have to say, it was not a bad film. I can’t speak from the perspective of a fan of the anime, but as a movie it stood on its own merit.

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  14. I saw this adaptation as a fan of both the original film and the standalone TV series, and I think, all things considered, they did rather admirably. Rather than try to literally translate one iteration into live action, they chose to borrow and adapt elements from several versions, and combine them with their own ideas.
    In some ways I think they suffered from comparisons to their predecessors, and I think some of the ideas they tried to express were too complex to be realized in a single film. As is often the case with adaptations, I felt the script was one of the weakest components.
    There were several specific scenes that I thoroughly enjoyed, along with quite a few nods and references to the franchise, but overall I think the story lacked a strong unifying theme or question.
    Still, I’m glad they tried. I think they made a valiant effort, and hopefully others will learn from and build on what they did well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree. Yes the script could have been better, but still I think they did a pretty good job with it, and the hate this movie has so far been receiving is just completely uncalled for. I loved the visual aspects of this film, and the nods to several of the original movie’s keyscenes. Thank you for your comment and all the likes 😀

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  15. I enjoyed reading a review of someone who went into the film with an open mind. I think far too often people just go in to something hating it, and their opinion reflects that (definitely me when I try new food). It is also important, I think, that a fan of the original anime reviews the film. Since you can compare and contrast things with a solid foundation.
    While I haven’t seen the film, I think how you called it “Ghost in the Shell Light” makes a lot of sense. Of course they can’t replicate all of the themes into the film, and it has to have a more American appeal. Thus, some of the more deep and complex themes are lost. But that isn’t inherently bad.
    Anyways, I’m glad to know the film wasn’t a complete failure like people wanted it to be. And I trust your opinion on films, so I’ll be checking it out when it hits home release. Thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank YOU for this great comment that I highly enjoyed reading. Really appreciate it 😊I hope that when you finally get to see the movie, you will enjoy it as well. It really was a shame the movie got this much negative press, that seemed to influence pretty much everyone that had not yet seen the movie. It is okay not to like a movie, I never have a problem with that, but to judge it purely based on press influence that just feels wrong somehow. But who knows, maybe over time this movie might get a cult following. It has happened before with some movies 😊

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  16. I think the movie was okay and doesn’t deserve all the hate it got. Compared to something like Death Note or Dragon Ball Evolution I think Ghost in the Shell did a decent job of treating the source material with respect. To be honest the animated movie was too deep for a simpleton like me, so I was okay with the live action film being easier to follow.

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    1. Haha, I hear you. I remember the first time I saw the animated movie and I just could not understand it: at all. It just ade no sense to me (and it was pretty much one of my first real anime movies). Later on, after a couple of rewatches I began to understand it much more. But you are so right. This live action adaptation just got way too much undeserved hate, and that was a real shame. I certainly enjoyed it a lot, and thought it kept the essence of the original anime alive. Glad you enjoyed it as well 😊

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