Before I saw the new Ghost in the Shell movie, I watched the original to get some perspective. I enjoyed the ideas and execution of the film, but it did start to lose me at the end when it introduced these more complex, philosophical ideas. So I was really hopeful when I sat down to watch this movie. Part of me thought this film could actually be a really solid American-adaption of a Japanese anime. Part of me thought this film could be a disaster, like so many adaptions before it.
By the end of Ghost in the Shell, I had a really good time. The movie has some issues, but I was genuinely surprised by how much I actually liked this film. One of the biggest aspects of this movie, and the 1995, is the setting. The animation in the original paints a beautiful and engaging location for the story, and this new film does a fantastic job with its scenery. With the mix of computer animation and real props, everything and everyone in this movie looks and feels so real. It was wonderful to watch. The work and effort put into this film is a serious accomplishment, and one I really appreciate.
Something this movie does better than the 1995 movie was developing interesting characters. Major, the main character played by Scarlett Johansson, has an entirely robotic body with a human brain placed into it. There’s this internal-dilemma that is present throughout the films: what makes us human? Are you a human if all you have left is a brain surround by artificial skin? That’s just two of several questions that are scattered throughout the films. It’s a fascinating concept, but with this idea in mind, I thought the Major in the 1995 movie never got a chance to really portray a more “human” side to her character. In this film, I thought Scarlett Johansson did a great job portraying both the “human” and “robotic” sides of the character. This film spends more time examining the “human” aspects of the Major and give her more development as a character. Batou was another character in Ghost in the Shell that got more character development this time around. Sadly, there wasn’t enough time spent with any of the other characters to make them any more interesting than they were in the original anime. I am aware that there are other movies and television shows based off of Ghost in the Show that offer more backstory and development of these characters, but as someone who has only seen the original film, I have no attachment to those characters.
Besides some very obvious fully-CGI Scarlett Johansson moments, the biggest problem for me was the third act of the movie. The first two acts are full of moral dilemmas, where there is no clear right or wrong side. Both sides of the conflict offer enough reason to be supported, and the movie worked best when it was subtle with its direction in storytelling. For some reason, they decided to drop the series of internal conflicts present throughout the film, and instead make the movie end with a cliché good-vs-evil fight. Not only was it uninteresting to watch, but it betrayed what the rest of the film had set-up and ended on a somewhat flat note.
Setting aside the boring, familiar ending, there was actually quite a bit to love in this movie. This wasn’t a Matrix copycat or a wannabe Black Widow movie. It was surprisingly faithful adaption of a Japanese anime that didn’t suck! Hopefully more American adaptations of anime ended up like this one, and not like Dragonball: Evolution. I am going to give Ghost in the Shell a GREAT out of 10.
What did you think of Ghost in the Shell?
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**My next review will be on 13 Reasons Why which you can watch on Netflix NOW!**