Ghost in the Shell is the remake/reboot of the beloved 1995 anime film, which was based on the manga of the same name. It stars Scarlett Johansson as Major, a cybernetically enhanced soldier in 2029 Japan. As someone who loves anime and the original 1995 movie, I was insanely excited for this remake, and if you know me, you probably know that I’m generally on the side of remakes. For those who hate when a classic film is remade: It is not in dispute that many remakes have been horrible and disappointing, but some have also proven that they can not only be as good as the original but, in rare instances, be even better. So, that’s why I always tend to keep an open mind when going to these types of films. In addition to just being a remake, films listed as “Rotten” on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes have piqued my interest time and time again, and proven that they don’t deserve their low scores.
Director Rupert Sanders isn’t that huge of a director. His first film, 2012’s film Snow White and the Huntsman was entertaining but not that great of a film. For those who love the manga and anime: this film is simply a Hollywood-ized adaptation of the anime. Don’t go in expecting a psychological thriller like the original film provided. If that is what you want from a live-action Ghost in the Shell film, then this may not be the best choice for you. However, if you are a fan of the franchise and keep an open mind, I think you will enjoy the movie. It certainly isn’t perfect, but it was satisfying enough for me. And, before I delve into my review: About the whitewashing accusations? Don’t be swayed. Johansson has proven yet again that she is the perfect fit for any female action hero.
First, let’s talk about the action. The fight sequences in Ghost in the Shell are breathtaking. Each one is well-choreographed and looks great, but they’re all just really fun to watch as well. The stunt-work is very good as well. In addition to that, the environments that serve as a backdrop for these scenes are absolutely beautiful. It is stunning how great the technology is nowadays, and it seems that we’re soon going to have an onslaught of movies with incredibly detailed environments and cityscapes, as well as vibrant costumes for the characters.
The writing is moderately good. A lot of it is clichéd, and there’s a scene in the film’s final act that is really poorly done (the fact that it’s just a setup is bad enough), but when looking at the film as a whole, the script isn’t necessarily as bad as it could’ve been. In addition to that scene, I also wished that the script had given more time to deepen characters like Batou (Pilou Asbæk) and Daisuke (Takeshi Kitano). Aside from those minor gripes, the writing is fairly good.
The acting is also solid. Scarlett Johansson (as always) owns it in her role, bringing Major’s charisma and sternness to the big screen greatly. The supporting characters like Pilou Asbæk’s Batou and even Michael Pitt’s Kuze are great. Peter Ferdinando is a pretty good antagonist, as well. Daisuke’s (Takeshi Kitano) lines are all subtitled, but they’re solemn, with a hint of sarcasm as well. It works perfectly for the character, who doesn’t get much to do, but once he starts mowing down goons, it’s awesome!
Ghost in the Shell worked for me. I’ve always been into the cyberpunk genre, but this takes it to a whole new level of fun. It’s undeniably not as good as the original 1995 film, but I don’t understand why critics are slamming this movie right now. Some of the dialogue is corny, and there’s an entire scene that was clearly just a setup. There’s more that I didn’t like about the film, but I can’t get into that without spoiling it. However, the good wins out, and I’m going to give the film a B+.
Ghost in the Shell stars Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han, Juliette Binoche, Peter Ferdinando. Directed by Rupert Sanders.