GHOST IN THE SHELL
Directed by Rupert Sanders
Based on the comic “The Ghost in the Shell” by Masamune Shirow
Screenplay by Jamie Moss and William Wheeler
Screenplay by Ehren Kruger
Music by Lorne Balfe
Cinematography by Jess Hall
Film Editing by Billy Rich and Neil Smith
Casting by Lucy Bevan and Miranda Rivers
Original Casting by Liz Mullane
Costume Design by Kurt and Bart
Random Credit = Art Department…Ivy Urquhart
The uproar that exploded when the news leaked that Scarlett Johansson was cast to play the Major in this film was understandable. The protest that came close to imploding the interwebs at the confirmation of this bizarro move was completely justified. The Ghost In the Shell was manga that became anime that was followed by sequels (judging by box office, you won’t have to worry about that with this version) wherein the central character was a young Japanese woman whose brain/soul or “ghost” was transplanted into a cybernetic body. In this version, a young Japanese woman’s “ghost” was transplanted into the cybernetic body of Johansson, with raven hair.
Why Scarlett Johansson? Why replace a Japanese person with a gaijin? So they can fit in better? Seeing as it is an artificial face, it is perfectly within the power of her creators to simply give her back her original face. The reasoning behind the reanimation details break down upon examination. When I learned a live-action remake was on the way two actress came to mind for the starring role: Jing Tian and Rila Fukushima. Both actresses could have acted the shit out of that part and kicked the shit out of the fight scenes; can you imagine it?
That is not the only problem with casting Johansson in this role. Have you seen Lucy? If you have, you have seen Johansson’s performance in Ghost In the Shell. She actually showed a wider range in Lucy, but other than that, same theatrics, different film. A young man headed into another movie asked me if she was kind of like in Lucy. When I said yes, he said that’s what he thought and he would skip it. It was only the truth. Why she would act like a robot– Forget it.
The one beautiful part of this GITS is that they did not attempt to recreate her nauseously huge breasts that evolved between the manga and the anime. What lethal tactic do those water balloons serve? Is she able to distract enemies while she motorboats them to death? There is the legend of the Amazons who cut off a breast so that if did not interfere with pulling their bows. That is badass. Then you have a character with ludicrously large…bazooms and a wasp waist that would be the cause of her snapping like a reed in the most gentle breeze. *pop*
Know your anime? You will realise that this plot is not an exact retelling of the original story; there have been tweeks here and there to make it more relevant(?), I suppose. The core is the same, however, the Major leads Section 9 to stop cyber terrorists, before massive attacks can take place and cause permanent damage to the ‘net. As Major, Batou, Aramaki, Yano, Tagusa, and the rest of Section 9 search for the mysterious enemy who is determined to bring down Hanka Corp, she begins to learn more about her past.
With a storyline like that it would seem as if there would be numerous opportunities for dramatic, affecting scenes. The film itself should have a sad and angry core that pervades all the action and especially the scenes with Batou, who is her closest companion, if she has one. Instead, even the moments that should be played with great emotion fall flat. It is not the other cast members fault, because they do well with what that are given. Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, and Takeshi Kitano are standouts among some especially impressive actors. There is only so much the best cast can do with lifeless material and flat direction, however. They do what they do what they do, you know.
Anime and manga fans may be helplessly drawn to Ghost In the Shell 2017, and that’s perfectly comprehensible. The unhappy truth is that, unless they are looking for the special effects or Boss Aramaki’s great part is enough for them, they are going to be disappointed. Crack this particular shell open and you won’t find amazing cybernetics, which is a bummer. Worse, not only are there no electronic marvels and nerve connections, there is no ghost. The brain, memories, or “soul” — whatever you’d like to call whatever makes you you never was in there. And there never was a heart or soul to this film, just 107 minutes of Hollywood using someone else’s ideas again and getting it wrong. Fans deserve better.