Ghost In The Shell Review
Ghost In The Shell has finally received its long awaited live-action movie adaptation. The movie, directed by Rupert Sanders tell the story of Major Mira Killian. Major is a cyborg, developed by Hanka Robotics as weapon after her body was killed in a supposed terrorist attack. Ghost In The Shell is an adaptation of the comic book created by Masamune Shirow in 1991. The story might be considered conventional. Major must hunt down a terrorist named Kuze with her partners from Section 9. At the same time she attempts to uncover more of her past from before the terrorist attack. This sets her on a dangerous collision course with the CEO of Hanka Robotics – Mr. Cutter. Yet for all the conventional story elements that are rooted in anime Ghost In The Shell does manage to occasionally surprise. Director Rupert Sanders keenly attempts to highlight the metaphysical story elements without having them become a burden. But he does not quite manage to wow in the same way that the Wachowski’s managed with The Matrix.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad adaptation. It is just a bit too conventional, that is all. It goes through the motions and simply doesn’t have the same dramatic impact throughout the movie. An example would be the ending. The resolution of finding Kuze and unraveling Hanka Robotics lacks the pertinent feeling I think should have been there. Instead the revelations that Major was a young woman named Motoko did have the right feeling. These scenes between Major and her mother are strong because they are supported by the themes underlying the story – artificial life and the meaning of consciousness. Scarlett Johansson plays the role of Major / Motoko fantastically. She has the calm restraint and the physique to portray the character.
The story is also helped by its secondary characters such as Major’s sidekick Batou and her boss Chief Aramaki. These two in particular add depth because of their own agenda and their insight into the big picture. The special effects and the action scenes also make up a lot for the lack of suitable drama. Though I think the world of Ghost In The Shell is strangely devoid of human live, unlike Blade Runner.
This Ghost In The Shell adaptation can be considered risk averse. For all the questions it asks more could have been asked. Of course, the creative staff would not have wanted to alienate the audience with even more meta-physical talk. Yet in a world were virtual reality and social media consciousness the topics this adaptation addresses are more relevant than ever before. The same risk averseness can also be applied to the reduction of erotica compared to the source material. Don’t get me wrong, this adaptation has plenty of curves. And you can think of that what you will. Nonetheless the original comic and even the 1995 anime adaptation heavily emphasized the erotic inner world of Major. That may have been part of the Japanese culture then, and now, but critics found it interesting.
Not sexual enough?
The argument was that Japanese men consider the sexual aspects of Major’s to be a projection of both freedom and power onto women, and identify with them as fictional characters. This adaptation takes a far more restraint view of any erotica. We end up having one scene in which Major explores the body of a prostitute (played by Adwoa Aboah). Perhaps the desire to avoid an R rating has caused a disconnect between theme and plot. The counter argument is that any further exploration of erotica would have made the film sexist. There have been arguments the movie is that anyway, but displaying female curves does not make something sexist. The argument would not hold up for Wonder Woman either.
So, Ghost In The Shell is a good movie, but not a great one. It daringly explores themes associated with artificial intelligence but does not manage create an impact like Blade Runner or The Matrix.