‘Ghost in the Shell’ Looks Great but is Firing Blanks

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!

Ghost in the Shell

Everyone involved in the live action remake of the Japanese anime classic Ghost in the Shell dove head first into a no-win situation. On one hand, the original by Mamoru Oshii has influenced a generation of action filmmakers, so it likely would feel derivative of the movies inspired by the original. On the other hand, casting one of the world’s biggest movie stars in Scarlett Johansson in the lead role sparked an outcry of controversy with accusations of whitewashing the Japanese origins of the story. Despite all of the outrage and indifference that surrounded Rupert Sanders’ live action version of Ghost in the Shell, nobody actually knew what to expect until the finished film was shown. It is, in the slightest of terms possible, a mixed bag of a movie, featuring lavishly colorful visuals and a number of misguided decisions that only amplify the controversy that surrounded its casting.

In many regards, this live action remake is faithful to a fault with the source material. At times it’s as if Sanders is simply replicating the most iconic moments from the original, but that also translates into the film’s plotting which can range from dull to bewildering.

In the future, the line between man and machine has been blurred by technological advancements that modify the human body. These advances are handled by Hanka Robotics, a company run by their CEO Cutter (Peter Ferdinando) and research headed by Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche). Hanka has just revived Major (Johansson) in the first ever procedure to put a human brain into a cybernetic body – the brain and consciousness of Major being known is the ghost and her new body being the shell. Though they say they’ve preserved her consciousness and memories, Major has trouble recalling her life prior to being placed in her shell. This technological breakthrough isn’t going to be used for the betterment of humanity. As Cutter tells Dr. Ouelet, “She’s not a machine. She’s a weapon.”

A year later and Major is part of a special task force headed by Aramaki (“Beat” Takeshi Kitano), who answers personally to the Prime Minister. With her partner Batou (Pilou Asbæk), Major is tasked with investigating a string of people who have been cerebrally hacked by Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt), a mysterious being living underground. Their investigation isn’t just dangerous, it’s something that could reach up into the corridors of power of Hanka Robotics as well as unlocking the mystery of Major’s obscured past.

Ghost in the Shell does look magnificent for the most part. Rupert Sanders and cinematographer Jess Hall create a visually lush world that is colorful and often striking. The production design is equally magnificent, with sets both physical and digital that look unique and textured. Though sparse, the action sequences are clear and easy to follow. However, there’s one ghastly fight sequence that is overwhelming with its strobe light qualities that it should come with a warning for anyone with epilepsy. The best sequence in Ghost in the Shell has Major going into the mainframe of a hacked robot. The damaged memory leaves the figures surrounding Major as slowly fading away as she explores the scene.

The visual splendor of Ghost in the Shell can only carry the film so far as the screenplay adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s classic manga by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler, and Ehren Kruger can’t get the story to move with any momentum. It leans so heavily on the central mystery that it never really becomes clear who is after who and what they’re all after. Mainly, the film tries to retain most of the story beats of the original but that also means it retains some of the more confusing aspects of its plotting.

All of which brings us to the most unfortunate aspect of Ghost in the Shell – its blatant whitewashing. The film constantly reminds the audience of this issue through some baffling decisions. Scarlett Johansson and Danish co-star Pilou Asbæk wander the streets of the city that is designed like a Japanese metropolis, surrounded by Asian extras in traditional Japanese garb with Japanese text scrawled on the walls. Even more distracting is the fact that Takeshi Kitano delivers all of his lines in Japanese while Johansson replies to him in English. The aforementioned issues pale in comparison to the fact that Johansson’s Major is revealed to have been a Japanese girl named Motoko before being killed and reborn as a cybernetic being. Major tracks down her mother (Kaori Momoi) who weeps over her deceased daughter. The film ends with the mother hugging the cybernetic daughter with the visage of Johansson, as if this moment is supposed to symbolize a forgiveness for the casting choices made. I truly wish I didn’t have to dwell on this aspect of the film but there’s nothing within the movie to assuage these concerns and it constantly brings attention to this self-inflected wound over and over again in the worst ways possible.

Scarlett Johansson is more than capable of leading an action film but the stiffness of her performance in Ghost in the Shell mirrors the stiffness of the film as a whole. As much as the camera loves to linger on Johansson in the skin-tight body suit she spends most of the film in, there’s nothing underneath the surface in this hollowed mechanized remake. Ghost in the Shell has such a vibrant look to it that it’d be easy to forgive its plotting and acting issues if not for the fumbling way it handles its issues of racial and cultural appropriation. The original Ghost in the Shell changed action filmmaking and inspired countless artists. This remake is almost good but not quite there. It’s just firing blanks where it matters most.

Ghost in the Shell
  • Overall Score
2

Summary

The remake of the classic anime, Ghost in the Shell lives down to expectations despite its visual splendor with confusing plotting, bland characters, and its wildly distracting approach to whitewashing.

YogaOutlet.com

One Response

  1. fanboy23 July 9, 2017 Reply

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
‘Titans’ Episode 2: Birds of a Feather

Last week’s Titans set up everything we want from the DCEU’s...

The Curse of La Llorona Trailer
Say Your Prayers Before Watching the ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ Trailer

Something terrible is coming. Details are scarce as to what we...

Destroyer Trailer
Nicole Kidman Goes Rogue in Trailer for Karyn Kusama’s Gritty Drama ‘Destroyer’

Things have finally started to turn around for director Karyn Kusama....

Event News Event Reviews
Alt 98.7 Presents Big Adventure: Music, Comedy & Comic Con Festival, Nov 3-4 in Orange County

In less than a month, Alt 98.7 Presents Big Adventure makes its debut,...

The 9th Annual Brew HA HA Craft Beer Photo Gallery

Photos by FanboyNation Craft Beer Expert, Dave Warner. Related

Long Beach Comic Con Photo Gallery

Related

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Taco Bell Xbox
The Newest Taco Bell Box is an Xbox – Your Chance to Win a Taco Bell Xbox

Taco Bell and Xbox are partnering up to give fans a chance...

Exclusive Track Premiere from Madden NFL 19!

(July 26, 2018 – Los Angeles, CA) – Lakeshore Records today...

Star Ocean Anamnesis
8.0/10
The Most Intuitively Fun Gameplay of Any Mobile RPG – Star Ocean Anamnesis Review

Star Ocean Anamnesis is hands down the most fun and intuitive gameplay...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Five Questions for Gary Morgenstein About ‘A Mound Over Hell’

Gary Morgenstein is a journalist, public relations expert and author with...

Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel
Dark Horse Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel Revealed

Dark Horse reveals new original Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic...

black torch
Black Torch – New Supernatural, Action Manga from Viz Media

VIZ Media releases a new, supernatural story with the release of...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Eagle Eyes
Protect Your Eyes with Eagle Eyes Glasses – Eagle Eyes TV Kit Review

Eagle Eyes TV Kit review – Feel the difference and get...

Nooligan Talks About His New DC Collectibles Batman Family Line

Visual Artist Nooligan uses the influences of his First Nation ancestry along...

DC Collectibles Brings Batman Dark Nights: Metal to Life

Straight from the pages of the bestselling DARK NIGHTS: METAL comics series comes...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
PFL 9 Lightweight and Light Heavyweight Semi-Final Results From Long Beach

Saturday, October 13, 2018 – Professional Fighters League (PFL) 9 took...

NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleased Results

New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) continues its West Coast domination with...

Combate Americas: Camino a Copa Combate Results from Long Beach

Tonight Combate Americas, the premiere Hispanic Mixed Martial Arts organization featured...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics presents: Harry Potter and the Cat Conjuring part ??? more of BEHOLD TACOCAT!

The next epic installment in the epic epicness Behold Tacocat! A...

Fantoy Comics presents: Harry Potter & the Cat Conjuring pt7 subsection1: Behold: Tacocat!

Tacocat comes to Hogwarts but is he friend or FOE?

Cultural Junkdrawer – Why is it so familiar? 2018 Summer movie recap.

In case you haven’t noticed: summer is over. Most of you...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Coastal Commoners Ep 5 Kavanaugh, Dr. Ford and The Fourth Estate

This week on Coastal Commoners, R.C. and Gary speak with Riverdale...

Coastal Commoners Ep 4 Talking Baseball with Ernie Paicopolos of FenwayNation

This week, Gary and R.C. speak with Ernie Paicopolos, the Editor-in-Chief...

Coastal Commoners Ep 3 The Dirty World of Politics

Editor’s Note: The views reflected in Coastal Commoners are those of...

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Deadpool 2 Vinyl Giveaway!

We are giving away a copy of Deadpool 2 Score Soundtrack on...

Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack
Blake Neely Behind-the-Scenes Recording of Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack

Check out this exclusive Behind-The-Scenes video with Blake Neely as he...

Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

%d bloggers like this: