ghost in the shell 2017 review

It’s really difficult as a fan of the original anime, and lover of the 1995 movie Ghost in the Shell to write about this, because I really wanted this movie to work.

We had talent across the board and the visuals from the trailers, and the pre-released clip all ingredients for a pretty good movie!

So I went in expecting nothing but greatness, boy was I wrong, and this will serve as my Ghost in the Shell review. 

Ok we’ll kick things off with what worked:

Visuals:

As I stated earlier, the visuals in the movie were amazing. It was an esthetically pleasing movie. The world was just beautiful. The CGI was clean and at some points you wanted to believe this was all real. I mean the story is set in 2029, and we’re in 2017 so it could happen.

They also did a great job of taking and using certain shots from the original movie in this live action remake and I was glad.

Characters:

Major: As controversial as the casting of Scarlett Johansson was as the main character Major (Motoko Kusanagi), she did however turn in a great performance, she was believable as the Major a cyborg with a human brain who was going through an identity crisis.

Batou: As close to the original character as could be. He has always been sort of an older brother type to the major in a sense, while carrying on as an unemotional person who seems to love dogs. They nailed that part of his character down.

Togusa: Chin Hans portrayal of the only 100% human body in the unit was spot on. It is important to note that he does have a partial cyber enhanced brain.

Chief Aramaki: This was tricky because they took a chance with the character, however the portrayal was a huge payoff. He can be seen as a father figure to the major and Takashi Kitano nailed that.

The Villain: Kuze was an interesting character and a risk that paid off. When the full cast list was announced I was nervous when I saw Michael Pitt would be playing him, but I was pleased with what I saw.

Now onto what didn’t work.

Togusa is an important member of Section 9 and was limited to one scene, I get that you couldn’t really explore most of the characters, but to have him in the movie, and not explore this character who is arguably just as interesting as the major herself is an insult to fans of the original.

Chief Aramaki, the risk they took with him speaking Japanese while everyone else spoke English was good, but was a little distracting when you’re trying to pay attention to the movie, and then read his subtitles at the same time.

Visually as I expressed earlier, it was stunning. But it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. The original came out in ’95 and inspired movies like “The Matrix” and “Edge of Tomorrow” and we’ve seen in those movies visuals that mirror this movie. I know that you wanted to be faithful to the original, but you can do that while delivering something new or fresh.

The STORY

While it had its good moments. There were parts of the movie that felt boring and a little to long to be honest. As a matter of fact someone in the middle of the movie got up and left the theater.

The story while trying to make its focal point the major and her identity crisis. Never took its time to set up any other members of section 9, and even Michael Pitts’ Kuze seemed to just be there to help move The Majors story along and wasn’t explored as the villain he could’ve been.

The story was stale, watered down, and pales in comparison to the ’95 movie, that explored the effects of cyber enhancements, and having the single network, while touching on the major, and her teammates. It’s as if the writers said to themselves “all that is too difficult for your average moviegoers to figure out”.

As a fan of that movie. I was hugely let down with the direction they took in this adaptation.

Oh lest I forget, the big twist…

SPOILER ALERT!!!

So if you’ve been paying attention, there was the white-washing controversy about casting Scarlett Johannson as Major Motoko Kusanagi.

In the movie, I believe towards the end 2nd act it is revealed in a weird twist that The Major isn’t who she was. She was reprogrammed and is actually Motoko a young Japanese girl who lived in the “lawless land” got kidnapped, and had her brain harvested and put into the shell she currently is now. She somehow remembers and meets her mother (CRINE). Amidst the cries of white-washing the character, this is really how the writers decided to explain that move. SAD!

This movie was just chuck full of this could’ve been done better moments, I really wanted to like it because the source material is that good, and even after the big boss fight at the end I was left saying “huh?” And “I’m glad that was over.”

All in all, the movie is gorgeous, I would say wait till it’s out on blu-ray to see the movie, but I’m sure you’re already doing that. Just do yourself a favor and get the original ’95 movie you’ll thank me.

I like Scarlett and I really wish she had known better.

Mukhtar Ahmad covers Entertainment for MFST, you can follow him on twitter @MoeCrosby

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