Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Image result for ghost in the shell 2017 poster
A Hollow Shell

Director: Rupert Sanders
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Michael Carmen Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, "Beat" Takeshi Kitano, Chin Han, Juliette Binoche, Peter Ferdinando, Kaori Momoi, Lasarus Ratuere

Based on a landmark anime (which, itself, was adapted from a popular manga series) the film had a lot to live up to in regards to its namesake. In a world containing The Last Airbender and Dragonball Evolution, Hollywood adaptations of anime (and anime inspired series's) face an uphill battle from the word go. While Rupert Sanders' adaptation rises above those insipid disasters, it does little to inspire hope for future adaptations.

Set in the future, where cybernetic enhancements are commonplace among the people, Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson) is the sole survivor of a cyberterrorist attack. Her body damaged beyond repair, the surviving brain is put into a mechanical body, as Hanka robotics make her the first of her kind. A year later, she has risen to the rank of Major, and fights a cyberterrorist named Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt), who has the ability to hack into peoples minds. Along the way, Kuze reveals to her that Hanka didn't save Mira's life, they stole it.

Image result for ghost in the shell 2017 youtubeFrom the announcement of her casting, Scarlett Johansson has faced a backlash amidst the whitewashing controversy. It's a topic that's raged on and been greatly discussed, with support of the casting coming from Mamoru Oshii, director of the original 1995 anime film. As far as the casting goes, it's unfortunate the usually reliable Johansson couldn't have delivered something more compelling. While she delivers the struggle of Mira accepting her circumstances and her body, it's a mostly cold performance, even considering the mechanical body. It unfortunately leaves one far from emotionally engaged.

If anything, Kuze is a more interesting character, although that may be down to the performance of Michael Carmen Pitt. He fantastically sells this mechanical character, both in his body language and his spluttering vocals. Pilou Asbæk delivers a likeable presence as Batou, Mira's partner, and "Beat" Takeshi Kitano proves to be the most commanding thing in every one of his scenes.

The reality of Mira's existence allows characters to philosophise, touching upon the nature of identity, as well as consent. It's a discussion that would have benefited from delving deeper into them, as the way they're lightly touched upon doesn't feel adequate enough. Instead, they feel like an afterthought to the scenes of action. While there's some well crafted moments, such as one involving a garbage truck, too much of it feels rather ordinary.

Helping matters are the eye-catching visuals, especially in regards to the landscape. While it clearly owes a debt to Blade Runner, it can't be denied how visually stylish it is. Sadly, the visuals don't make up for a films quality, and can't overcome how shortly the picture stays in the mind, nor how boring it is overall.

It's unfortunate how soulless Ghost in the Shell ends up feeling. The visuals may be a treat, but that doesn't make up for what the film lacks in philosophy, interest and items worth remembering.

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