Live action seems the way to go now a days. Disney is doing it with their classics and lets not get started on all the comic book films coming out in the Marvel Universe and DC Universe so what is next? Half way around the world you can find some marvelous Manga/Anime out there telling fantastic stories ranging from blood sucking zombies to fluffy animals taking over the world to giant robot mech suits saving the universe and the list goes on and on. Hollywood has gotten its hands on some of the most prized titles and they are well stuck in development hell and not moving anywhere. Japan has had success in making a few live action films based on title such as Attack on Titan and Full Metal Alchemist. These films only hit the big screens overseas and barely ever make it over here.
Enter Paramount Pictures and their new Ghost in the Shell live action film based on the hit Anime/Manga of the same name created by Masamune Shirow in 1989 and saw its way to film in 1995 and 2002 with a TV series as well. We are huge fans of the series and of Anime so we have some pretty high expectations here because this may open the door to some stellar quality projects coming your way sooner than later.
It is no doubt that Scarlett Johansson is a bonafided bad ass when it comes to these types of roles and the good thing is that she can play them each completely different from one another. Like we said earlier we are big fans of the anime and manga series of Ghost in the Shell so when this project was announced after DreamWorks and Steven Spielberg acquired the rights in 2008 to produce a live action film based on the original manga we were scared. Why? I think you know why because it is so hard to keep fans, fanboys/girls and the general public all happy at the same time when Hollywood ventures in to this kind of territory. Don’t forget to add the studio big wigs and their shareholders and investors because at the end of the day it is a business. Do you fluff it up? Do you make it a CGI orgy? Do you dumb it down? Do you completely change the story? So you can see where we are coming from when we say the term scared.
Hollywood did Ghost in the Shell justice and I would be more than happy if there is no sequel or if they do not try to start a cinematic universe here. Directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) and written by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger, based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. The film stars Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han and Juliette Binoche. Now that that is out of the way lets get on with our review.
Ghost in the Shell is visual buffet from beginning to end and has the quality inside to back it up. So it is not just an eye fest shoot em up bang bang film. One aspect we enjoyed very much was the the city itself. It is it’s own character in the film that keeps you engaged every time we have those long shots of the city. The Major (Scarlett Johansson) is an enhanced human that is not really human aside from her brain that was transplanted into a cybernetic body in order to become the perfect soldier. Her memories were erased but ultimately the begin to resurface because it is nearly impossible to wipe a human brain clean. The movie strays a bit from the original source material which takes away from the depth of the story and makes it into a kind of generic revenge plot with some sick twists here and there. Action wise Ghost in the Shell knows how to keep a good balance between that and the story as it progresses. We enjoyed seeing the sort of retro-cyber punk look of the settings, costumes and background in the film. That gave it a more authentic look as well as the practical effects being used in place of CGI. It is good to see how the film is able to keep its pace and not bore you to death with too much of one thing.
Major is part of Section 9 which is an anti-terrorist group and is partnered with a team of operatives and after thwarting an attack on a Hanka (Company that built Major) business conference she learns that one of the attackers was hacked by an unknown entity and here is where it opens up. We won’t spoil the rest for you because here is where you should begin to pay attention. For us the whole really stole show was Chief Daisuke Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano). Through out the entire film when he was on screen it was just perfect. He has some great one liners and knows how to handle himself just fine. We have seen what the “critics” have said about the film and we have to disagree on some of their points of view. Could Ghost in the Shell be a better film? Yes it can be. It will please fans of the Manga and it will satisfy newcomers enough to make fans of them and peak their curiosity enough to check out the original Anime. You can go in and watch this without having to have been familiar with the Anime/Manga and we thought that was a good idea. Lets not try an alienate the audience.
We recommend this film for your viewing pleasure. It satisfied us a fan of the anime and also as a new comer to the seires. We would have liked to see it keep it closer to the original story and have a little more punch in some of the scenes leading up key plot points of the film. It seems Rupert Sanders held back a little and maybe relied a little too much of visual aspect of the story but we can see how it can be tough to find a balance when working on a project like this. There are people to please besides the audience and this is where projects like these may suffer on the creative side and make up for it aesthetically.
GHOST IN THE SHELL starring Scarlett Johansson opens in theaters nationwide on March 31, 2017.
In the near future, Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people’s minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that she has been lied to: her life was not saved, it was stolen. She will stop at nothing to recover her past, find out who did this to her and stop them before they do it to others. Based on the internationally acclaimed Japanese Manga, “The Ghost in the Shell.”
Director: Rupert Sanders
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbaek, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche, Michael Pitt