Ghost in the Shell (2017) - Review
by Bryan Mero
As an anime fan favorite, Ghost in the Shell was a great choice to start a movement to bring Japanese animation to life on the big screen. It's been tried before and has failed miserably over the years (I'm looking at you Draganball:Evolution). Most attempts are b-grade production companies with low budgets and not a lot of star power. Ghost in the Shell (2017) steps it up an notch and brings amazing special affects and a big star to push it forward.
Ghost in the Shell (2017) starring Scarlett Johansson is about a special creation. Major is a robot with a human brain. She is part of a special team that hunts down cyber criminals in the near future. She has the incredible capability of jumping off buildings for attack and then has the brain power to ask questions and investigate. Those two talents combined gives her special ability that no other human or robot could ever dream of having. When she starts questioning her past and starts seeing glitches in her mind, everything starts to unravel.
First let's talk about the visuals. I can't say enough how amazing this movie looks. You are transported to the anime world of the original Ghost in the Shell and it is beautiful. The future cityscape has ads everywhere including 3D holograms. If I were to imagine how cities will look 20 years from now, this is it. Especially some place like Tokyo.
Then there's the acting and story. The story sticks pretty close to the anime but some of the dialogue and acting is a bit wooden. Things you can get away with in an anime (like introducing characters out of no where) is not the best when put on the big screen. Scarlett Johannson as Major is a very non-emotional robot which was a bit tough to watch at times. It took me out of the movie several times and she never really became 'Major' to me. On the other hand, Pilou Asbaek plays Batou, Major's partner. His gruff exterior, bright blonde hair and itchy trigger finger may seem one dimensional but adding in his love of stray dogs in the city and how much he cares for Major brought him to the forefront and my favorite character of the movie.
If you recognize this plot, it might be because you've either seen or know of Robocop (1987). I don't know if Ghost in the Shell (1995) was inspired by Robocop but a lot of the same themes are there. Our hero hybrid starts to remember their past and tries to regain it. Where Robocop succeeds in giving Peter Weller a back story that we care about, we start with Major as she is being built and then thrown into the action. The action was great but as far are caring for her or where she came from, there's no point of reference. This is where the movie fails. If you don't care for your main character, what's the point of the movie?
I do hope it does well enough internationally for others anime adaptations to be made...especially AKIRA.