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Review - Ghost in the Shell

By midlandsmovies, Aug 3 2017 08:23AM

Ghost in the Shell (2017) Dir. Rupert Sanders

This live action port of the Japanese manga stars Scarlett Johansson as Major Mira Killian, a cyborg soldier uncovering her mysterious past in a cyber-punk world where humans already incorporate robotics into their flesh. (Sounds like an Alan Partridge show spec. "Scrap that, Lynne").

The anime adaptation uses sci-fi themes cribbed from a number of sources but none more so than its parallels with the Waschowski’s Matrix films. Despite the 1995 animation preceding The Matrix, that film’s live-action Asian influences got to the screen years before this version which makes Ghost in the Shell seem very dated. This despite the fact it originated the ideas in the first place.

Johansson plays a bionic weapon in what looks like a “nude suit” (merely flesh-coloured for all you teenagers out there) in a future Blade Runner-looking city, tackling criminals as part of her assigned role. Again, many comparisons with other films are on show – from Ridley’s seminal classic to Michael Bay’s The Island and even I, Robot. So once again it makes the film less original and sadly the comparisons (with much better films) inevitable.

One saving grace is the design of the movie which uses spectacular Asian-inspired technology, cityscape locations and fashion. It also has a beautiful colour palette on screen, far removed from the dour, drab and washed-out DC films. However, whilst Johansson can do alienated city loners well (Her, Under the Skin, Lost in Translation) this film reminds me of the awful, and awfully boring, Lucy in which her character also gets “special powers” to the benefit of nothing.

A lack of audience empathy has often been the case when dealing with major characters you know are androids or cyborgs. Here, the film understandably misses out a Robocop-style introduction for plot purposes but viewers may find themselves at a distance – and like me, not caring – owing to the lack of humanity in the protagonist.

A confusing, but overly-explained, narrative in the second half together with seen-it-all-before imagery unfortunately leaves the film lacking in so many departments that there is not much to recommend it. Seek out the anime original to immerse yourself in a more unique and mature experience but this bland movie sits alongside the Total Recall remake as being as forgettable as they come.


Midlands Movies Mike

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