OK. Let’s forget all the baggage that comes with the title ‘Ghost In The Shell’. Let’s forget about the original movie and throw away trash talk about whitewashing. If we judge Ghost In The Shell as a stand alone project (as it should be judged), then what we have is a quietly brilliant piece of work that brings up thought provoking ideas without bogging itself down with ‘preachiness’.
Based on the anime film and manga of the same name, Ghost In The Shell follows a character called ‘The Major’ played by Scarlett Johannson. After her life was saved in a fatal event, Hanka uses her brain and implants it into a synthetic body, creating a human weapon to fight for the government and Section 9.
Just about every website has gushed over how visually stunning Ghost In The Shell is, while it’s true I don’t want to focus on this for too long, there’s more to this film than just it’s aesthetic. The art department has clearly worked VERY hard in creating a real physical world that’s believable, it’s sci-fi and neon but everything feels lived in. Designs for everything are prominent, weapons, vehicles and clothing all feel like they live and breath in this world. There aren’t many films that allow for such creativity in the art department unless they’re big-budget franchises like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.
STYLE VS. SUBSTANCE
When a film has a budget of £100 Million and looks this good I wouldn’t necessarily be angry if it was all style and no substance, but Ghost In The Shell subverts this expectation. It’s actually very nuanced and the first half the film focuses on thought-provoking questions such as what does it mean to be human? What makes us human? What makes me unique? There’s plenty more, with all the seeds planted it may seem as if the films decide to up and bail on these ideas but it really doesn’t if you pay attention to details, especially in the last act.
What Ghost In The Shell does well is mix depth with a decent action movie the average western movie goer can enjoy. Director Rupert Sanders definitely respects the source material and it rings true, nevertheless, he never feels the need to copy story details exactly but tries to create something new with the intentions of the original art.
Finally, Scarlett Johannson can’t go unmentioned here, her performance is nuanced and particular, meticulous in her choices, again it’s the right mixture of robotic and human. In the original The Major it’s not the kind of character you can really connect with, Johansson explains that there is a human, a ghost behind the robotic movement of her rigid shell physicality.
Words By Levi Eddie Aluede