Ghost In The Shell is a film which comes directed by Rupert Sanders who some may know for his work on Snow White and the Huntsman (2012). Ghost In The Shell stars Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Juliette Binoche and Michael Pitt.
Ghost In The Shell a science film which is set in the near future where humans are augmented by the technology of their time and have special abilities beyond what is natural. Scarlett Johansson plays a character known as Major who is recovered by a corporation after a bad accident, they use their future tech to remove her brain and put it in a new body. In a way, as she was nearly dead, her brain is kind of like a ghost and the new body is her shell, thus a “ghost in the shell”. She then goes on missions to catch bad guys for them after she’s healed. This is basically what you will see in the first 5 minutes of the film and then from there it’s pretty much action packed, you’ll get to see slow motion sequences, combat scenes, car chases, explosions, robots and Scarlett Johansson’s character, Major, who doesn’t wear much at all in most scenes.
It’s a fun film in the sense that it’s action packed and Scarlett Johansson is always a joy to watch at the cinema in practically any film she is in. It’s a film with some very interesting science fiction topics to discuss. Some of these things include the possibility of the augmented human, the idea of moving one’s brain into some type of new body, the idea of experimenting on people or even the possibility of a hacker interfering with your newly augmented body. It’s all very interesting, but where I would have wanted quite a lot of dialogue heavy scenes with interesting conversations and some character development, the film is instead more leaning towards the action side of things. While I do see these concepts in the the action scenes, I feel the film never really slows down enough to explore them or have a meaningful impact for the audience, this is possibly due to its fast pacing and the need for “more action”, which I suppose the director has gone for with Ghost In The Shell, a little less substance and more style.
Online on social media there is some chat about the idea of whitewashing this film because Scarlett Johansson is in the lead role and the story is Japanese so people say it should be a Japanese person. I find the whole conversation about this unnecessary, the film is quite diverse with actors from a variety of backgrounds assigned to various characters. Additionally Scarlett Johansson is more likely to make money for the film studio whose main audience in the United States and she’s quite popular there as well as in many markets around the world. I would argue that it is probably better Scarlett Johanson’s in this film as she was the strongest actress and had the more impactful performance. For all the other actors, I found them to be not actually that great and mostly completely forgettable. The villain in this film is actually quite weak and doesn’t really make an impact at all as do quite a few of the others, mostly they’re all disposable characters.
One of the things that is excellent about Ghost In The Shell is the set designs, costumes and city landscapes. It has a sort of Bladerunner (1982) vibe to it, mixed in with augmented humans giving it almost a bit of a Deus Ex feel (for those who’ve played the games). There’s big lights in the city, crazy displays around buildings and when characters were out on the streets, they were packed and full of life. It’s an interesting world to look at and characters costumes were all creative and nicely done. If Ghost In The Shell was to get a sequel, I would be interested to see what more they could do with the world they created.
In terms of the plot here, things move fast and it can be hard to keep track of everyone at times. There are interesting developments in the second act where things pick up plotwise, but the main story I feel is drowned out by all the action sequences, which while are a lot of fun and I enjoyed them all. There wasn’t much room I feel for the primary villain to develop or leave an impact which to me made the ending a bit lacklustre.
Overall this was an enjoyable film to watch. I love films where there is a lot of work put in to the sets, the look of the world and the costumes as well as the special effects and Ghost In The Shell delivers that a lot better than most other films out there at the moment. Scarlett Johansson was great for the role and there isn’t really any reason not to enjoy her performance, she’s a great actress who had interesting character to portray, although in this she’s similar to her recent performance in Lucy (2014), if you liked that movie, you’ll like this one. For action fans this will give you everything you’re looking for. For the ‘story’ people it might be a bit weak, but the science fiction elements will give you give you something to discuss with your friends.