|GHOST IN THE SHELL (director: Rupert Sanders; screenwriters: Jonathan Herman/Jamie Moss/William Wheeler, Ehren Kruger, based on the comic by Shirow Masamune; cinematographer: Jess Hall; editors: Neil Smith, Billy Rich; music: Lorne Balfe, Clint Mansell; cast: Scarlett Johansson (Major Mira Killian), 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano (Aramaki), Pilou Asbaek (Batou), Michael Pitt (Kuze), Juliette Binoche (Dr.Quelet), Chin Han (Han), Danusia Samal (Ladriya ), Peter Ferdinando (Cutter), Kaori Momoi (Hairi), Anamaria Marinca (Dr. Dahlin), Daniel Henshall (Skinny Man), Lasarus Ratuere (Ishikawa), Yutaka Izumihara (Saito); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Avi Arad, Ari Arad, Steven Paul, Michael Costigan; Paramount; 2017)|
|"A film we know should be better if the story
could only resonate with deep thoughts and not venture
down the road of the usual action thriller."
by Dennis Schwartz
live-action remake of Mamoru Oshii’s
1995 Japanese animation classic “Ghost in the Shell”
disappoints despite its technical advancements and
solid international cast. It's directed in a
workmanlike but questionable
mindless way as a CGI-laden pulp
action-pic by Rupert Sanders ("Snow
White and the Huntsman"/"The Juliet"), with tech
prowess deemed more important than advancing an edgy
humanistic story through thoughtful dialogue.
Co-written by Jonathan Herman, Jamie
Moss, William Wheeler, and Ehren Kruge to keep it
simple for marketing purposes, thereby the art is
sacrificed for the bottom line. It's based
on the comic by Shirow Masamune. Though visually
stunning, the narrative is drained of the original's
philosophy musings about bots-the very thing that made
it a classic on the level of such dystopian
mind-bending sci-fi films as "Dark City," "The
Matrix," "The Blade Runner" and "Metropolis." Though
it repeatedly tells us “Humanity is our
virtue,” its storytelling lacks the gravitas to make
It's set in the futuristic New Port City, a place with hologram commercials that line its skyscrapers, the streets are lit with dazzling colors and there are noisy dark black market spots to fear.
Johansson is cast as Major, the Asian heroine
(controversy surrounded the choice of a white American
woman portraying an Asian, though it had no effect on
the way I saw things), programed with fighting skills
as a crime-fighting human/cyborg hybrid.
We're told at first her body was destroyed by an
accident but her brain is preserved and placed in a
nearly indestructible robot container. We observe her
return to consciousness by the
compromised scientist (Juliette Binoche,
French actress), who is filled with pride over
her military-designed creation of a bot who acts
human. Major keeps her human brain, called a
ghost because her memory is wiped clean, while her
body is a man-made shell. She's the first successful one-of-a-kind
perfect marriage between humanity and technology.
Meanwhile the villain Cutter (Peter
Ferdinando), the owner of the Hanka Corp,
the largest manufacturer of artificially intelligent
beings, says Major is only a weapon.
forward a year and the rubber-suited Major, part of
Section 9, a special counter-cyberterrorist
group that's headed by the wise cop Aramaki
(Takeshi Kitano, a great Japanese director), is
partnered with the massive protective cyborg policeman
Batou (Pilou Asbaek, Danish actor). They are on
the job fighting corporate terrorists, as we learn
someone is trying to kill officials and
scientists associated with the Hanka Corp by hacking
into their brains and programing them to kill their
eventually learn the culprit is the creepy
cyborg Kuze (Michael Pitt), who has links to Major. He
has a curious story to relate to Major about why her
memory was erased and why he seeks revenge against
Cutter. From here on Major is determined to find out
who she really is.
get to following Kuze's back story, we must endure the
usual quota of Hollywood action-pic chases and
shoot-outs, as this humorless presentation glumly
takes us to dark places--leaving us lured into a film
we know should be better if the story could only
resonate with deep thoughts and not venture down the
road of the usual action thriller.
REVIEWED ON 4/1/2017 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ