A long time ago I saw ‘Ghost in the Shell’ the classic mid nineties movie and I quite liked it and then a while later I saw the first season of ‘stand alone complex'(S.A.G) and I quite liked that too, then I saw ‘Ghost in the Shell 2’ and I didn’t like that one so much. Now however I’ve seen………………………
As in the new live action movie starring ScarJo and annoying everyone on the internet for whitewashing and cultural appropriation. Yeah that one.
Well in that one we open on Mira Killian the lone survivor of a terrorist attack that leaves her orphaned at the age of 33 judging by the way we’re so content to shove her in a super advanced robot body and send her out to fight crime less than one year later. Now the visuals here are rather gorgeous and will remain so throughout the movie. For the most part. Anyway after this rather gorgeous introduction we jump to one year later where Scarlet is now working with Section 9 and their rag tag group of operatives who we won’t really be spending any time with in this movie. Except however her right hand man Batou, played by Euron Greyjoy, and between them they have to figure out who the new mysterious killer is, hacking into robo geisha’s and picking off high ranking government officials. Will this have connections to her past and the weird glitches she is constantly seeing?
*Spoiler* well duh. See this is a modern american movie hoping to launch another multi picture franchise and thus it has to be an origin story with deep connections to our lead and setting up all the things we know from the original. Remember Batou and his cybernetic eyes, ever wondered how he got them? What you didn’t and just took them as part of the world building of the original showing the characters function over aesthetic beauty and the worlds acceptance of advanced body parts. Well tough because we’re gonna tell you anyway. Had this been a decent story that may have tied into the over all plot in some way but it’s not, it’s an origins movie so they’re kind of just there.
This is most telling with the Major as we’ve gone from a eighties style cyber punk adventure to a Hollywood “Sci-fi” which means we’re jettisoning the ideas and concepts to make room for “character”. It’s not like you can’t still do cyber punk as a notion. Even S.A.G had some notions on the concepts of memes a thing that wasn’t a thing back when the movie first came out but was enough to carry a decent series that still questioned the notion of what it means to be human and the concept of ideas in the age of the internet. This movie however feels like it belongs back in the days of Blade Runner as it seems to fall short of the philosophy of the mid nineties original on what it means to be human. Actually that’s a bit unfair as it still falls short of Decker and the replicants too. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie, structurally it’s fairly sound, the acting is decent enough when the actors are allowed to do it and the visuals are fairly good but for a sci-fi it doesn’t feel like it has anything to say. Even the concept of companies controlling the government through money and sponsorship is a plot thread only mentioned and not really given much time in the sun.
So is it saving the heavy stuff for the sequel then? Well while I’m sure they’re setting up the possibility of one; given how much they cannibalised from the original, with entire scenes ripped from the source and plopped down in the middle to appease the fans, I’m worried we’d have to rely on getting a wholly original script and that’s something I don’t have too much faith in. If you’re after a decent enough cod sci-fi film to fill the strange gap in the super hero schedule then this will do you but it has little to say and for a franchise like ‘Ghost in the Shell’ that’s probably the biggest shame here. In many ways the movie reminds me of the recent Ghostbusters remake. That’s not to say it’s anywhere near as bad as that was but with that you had a lot of people getting very angry. You had people angry that they were remaking a popular franchise and others angry that they were changing a cultural part of the main cast and then you had people shouting back on both those points with just as much vitriol and anger. Yet fairly quickly we realised that the movie wasn’t worth it and we all felt a bit silly for getting so worked up over a movie that would be forgotten in the case of a few years. The same can be said here. As I said that’s not to say it’s anywhere near that bad it’s an action movie with some decent action scenes rather than a comedy movie with little to no actual comedy. It tries and I think the best you can say about it is “It’s not as bad as it could have been.”
For anyone still reading I’ve got to point out how many hoops the movie has to jump through to justify calling white chick Scarlet Johansson Major Motoko Kusanagi and yet they bail out at the last minute opting for just Major. What gives?