Ghost in the Shell is set in a futuristic world, where human beings are cybernetically enhanced with special features and skills like improved vision, strength and intelligence. We are introduced to Major Mira Killian, whose mind is her own but her body is manufactured. Termed as the ‘Ghost in the Shell’, she works as a special agent in the counter-terrorism division of Section 9 alongside Batou and Togusa under Chief Aramaki. While deep diving into the memory of a geisha, she comes across a hacker called Kuze. She manages to find the hacker, who reveals the truth behind her real identity and her memories. Mira goes on the trail to find the truth behind her true identity and her becoming of the ghost.
Ghost in the Shell is based upon the original manga series by Shirow Masamune. Based on the series, two animated movies, Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in The Shell 2: Innocence were made in 1995 and 2008 respectively. Dreamworks and Steven Spielberg had acquired rights for the live-action film adaptation of the animated series. Before Scarlett Johansson, Margot Robbie was considered for the role of Major, but her portrayal as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad opened up the position for ScarJo. The movie met with a lot of controversy over Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal as Major Motoko Kusanagi as the original character in the series is a Japanese woman.
What To Anticipate:
Ghost in the Shell, honestly is the dumbed-down version of the original manga series. The movie has been made a bit conventional and that somehow affects the original idea behind the animated series. The original animated version had a soul, it talked about human consciousness at a philosophical level that appealed to the adult mind while at the same time, the action sequences were enjoyed by the younger audiences, but the transformation into a live-action film may have dissipated the whole philosophy.
“We cling to memories as if they define us, but what we do defines us.”
Scarlett Johanson’s subtle acting as Major is what silences all the criticism regarding the casting of a white woman in place of an original Japanese woman. The conflict between her dual personality as she comes to terms with her glitches, which are snippets of her memories, the constant search for her rightful place between the human and the robotic world and not to miss the robotic facial expressions and walk – there couldn’t have been a better actor for this role. Certainly, Scarlett’s role in Marvel movies and especially in Lucy seems a source of inspiration to play Major.
Well, it is not just Scarlett that shines through the movie, but Pilou Asbæk’s presence as the constant friend who looks up to her as more human and less robot is impressive. And besides Scar Jo and Pilou, one of the scenes where Takeshi Kitano takes on a gang of shooters is pure joy.
The movie lacks a stronger script, especially when you are carrying the expectations of millions of fan on your shoulders. The visual effects like the neon lights and skyscraper-sized holograms, bodysuits, and robots, though impressive, seem more of a show-off and less of a necessity to the running of the story. The last fight with a spider tank is a mish-mash of blurry images. The original 1995 Ghost in the Shell served as the main inspiration behind The Matrix movies. But, somehow the whole concept around this movie doesn’t seem new. It has borrowed style from games like Crysis and Deus Ex Machina.