Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche
Director: Rupert Sanders
Running Time: 106 mins
Ghost In The Shell is an American film about a near future where cybernetics becomes a part of daily human life, and one woman whose body is entirely robotic that encounters the risks associated with this new era of humanity.
This film was a real shame. Although it’s an absolutely gorgeous movie to look at from start to finish, featuring some utterly jaw-dropping special effects, it has very little beneath the surface, and when you’re remaking a film as thrillingly innovative as Ghost In The Shell, that means something has gone very badly wrong.
But before I get into this film’s many problems, let’s start off on the bright side by talking about the visuals, which are exceptional. Again, the original Ghost In The Shell comic and anime are both teeming with fascinating and intricate detail, from the amazing city scapes to the complex cybernetic organisms, and this live-action remake does that better justice than I could have ever expected.
The exhilarating neo-noir vibe is the core of the film’s visual splendour, and whilst it plays with some really exciting visual effects in the action sequences, the most spectacular thing to look at is undoubtedly the gritty depiction of this near future flooded with technology.
When it comes to visual effects, costume and production design, I think that Ghost In The Shell really deserves high praise, because it both honours the source material’s innovation whilst ingeniously bringing it all to life in live-action.
That said, the amazing visuals aren’t enough to save this film from what is a painfully poor story, and not only is that disappointing, but it’s a little hard to understand how it could have happened.
Whilst it’s not an all-time favourite of mine, the great thing about the original Ghost In The Shell is just how intelligent it is. Not only does it feature Blade Runner-esque depictions of the near future that border on being prophetic nowadays, but its unbelievably deep themes of the relationship between humans and technology, as well as the concept of humanity itself were so interesting to follow.
That’s why I really can’t understand why this remake is so dull. Taking from such incredibly intelligent and deep source material, I expected this film to delve into those same dramatic themes with a similar level of dark grit, but that just isn’t the case.
Above all, it feels just too much like a Hollywood blockbuster. Although it regularly attempts to bring some emotional and philosophical pathos into the mix, this film is a far cry from the hard-hitting sci-fi drama that was the original, focusing far more on the visuals, action sequences and cool sci-fi concepts.
I’ll admit that there are a few good moments that occasionally spark some interest in the deeper themes, but the film generally fails to hit them home on a consistent basis, and when brought up in the middle of what is more often than not a pretty dumb action movie, they feel completely out of place.
It’s pretty clear then that this film just isn’t particularly well-written, failing to match up to the original’s intelligence or hard-hitting drama, and rather aiming for something far lighter while still trying to inject some interesting themes here and there.
Along with the poor screenplay, I was pretty disappointed by the performances. Scarlett Johansson is very wooden in the lead role, akin to her performance in Lucy, and doesn’t do enough to add to the emotional depth of her character’s internal struggle. Meanwhile, there’s nobody in the supporting cast that really sets the film alight, with two laughable villains in Michael Pitt and Peter Fernandino, and a collection of uninspiring performances from quality actors like Juliette Binoche and Takeshi Kitano.
Overall, it’s pretty hard to escape the fact that Ghost In The Shell is a big disappointment. Yes, it’s a visually gorgeous movie from beginning to end, and it does have a couple of moments of intrigue, but in general, it fails to match up to its brilliant predecessor with an unintelligent, inconsistent and shallow screenplay, coupled with a set of underwhelming performances, making for a pretty unimpressive watch, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.6.