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.
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.