Ghost in the Shell is a live-action film adaptation based on the Japanese Manga comic of the same name.
The film is set in the near future, the line between human and robots is blurred with the majority of humans having cybernetic implants. Scarlett Johansson plays Major, the first of her kind, a human brain that has been placed in a cyber-enhanced body. This makes her the perfect weapon and soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. Major and her task force, Section 9, try to stop a representative of the Hanka Robotics from being abducted or should I say hacked (yes, people’s brains can now be hacked and even controlled in the future). The team stumbles across a sinister plot to take down the company that built the very body that now houses Major’s soul or ‘ghost’. After a face off against the mysterious hooded figure who is waging a war against Hanka Robotics, Major discovers there might be more to her past than she first believed.
There has been some controversy about whitewashing with the cast and it’s sad that Hollywood hasn’t cast an Asain actress as Major. However, Hollywood politics seem to dictate that a film of this scale would not get the budget or even the go ahead without a big name lead actress like Johansson. At least they’ve kept Major a female, as not so long ago Hollywood may not have had the confidence to do so, however, the success of films like Lucy and The Hunger Games female lead action films have proved their box office worth.
The film hits the ground running, or should I say diving off a building, as mannequin bodied Johansson swoops into action. Yes, showing nipples is too rude in America but shooting people in the face is cool. Don’t do sex kids do guns, yay! Saying that, the action set pieces are breathtaking and production design and set design is outstanding as Major takes out multiple combatants.
Like Blade Runner, the surrounding landscape of this future metropolis is as much the star of the film as the actors are. Ghost in the Shell is a beautifully produced and intricately-designed movie which is stunning and New Zealand’s Weta Workshop has outdone itself. Sadly, however, the script lacks the attention to detail that the film’s overall look gets. Like so many robots the characters are a little soulless and the story is too straightforward, lacking suspense or mystery. The look and feel is complemented by the beautifully scored by Clint Mansell and Lorne Balfe.
So, unfortunately, no surprises story-wise in this cyberpunk thriller that provides literally no twists and turns. But, fans of the original Anime outing will enjoy and notice numerous homages and even complete scenes recreated in all its live action glory.
Ghost in the Shell is a visual feast that if seen should definitely be seen on the big screen, the bigger the better IMAX anyone.
Reviewed by Ian Wright.