For a good number of years there have been murmurs of Hollywood wanting to make a version of ‘Ghost in the Shell’ and now it’s finally a reality.
Originally starting out as Manga, ‘Ghost in the Shell’ is most notable as being adapted into an anime feature in 1995 by director Mamoru Oshii which is regarded one of the greatest anime’s of all time. Now I am only slightly familiar with the anime, it was the first anime my brother ever owned and I only watched it once many years ago. I was tempted to re-watch it in anticipation for this film but decided I wanted to go into this film with fresh eyes and see how it works on its own without having to make comparisons. So with that being said I found this to be quite a good movie.
The film is directed by Rupert Sanders (Director of Snow White & the Hunstman) and stars Scarlett Johannson, Michael Pitt, Juliett Binoche and great Japanese director Takeshi Kitano. The story follows a cyborg named Major Mira Killian (Scarlett Johannson) as she tracks down a terrorist hacker known as Kuze and slowly uncovers secrets of her past in the process. It covers the same themes that a number of other sci-fi films have done recently like self identity and while not exactly unique, it is certainly ripe with intrigue and competently executed with a couple of somewhat emotional moments.
Now a big part of Ghost in the shell’s intrigue is not just the main story, but the film world it inhabits. Set in a futuristic fictional Japanese city called Nihama, its quite fascinating seeing the different details and characteristics of the world that are on show in most of the scenes. I always love being introduced to different worlds and realities in films and this was one is very interesting.
The world is brought to life excellently by it’s visuals which is one of the films strongest points. The production design in particular is outstanding, but the visual effects are also really good – aside from a few dodgy looking bits – and it just all makes it a very cool and interesting film to look at which really engrosses you into its future world. It’s aesthetic reminds me of ‘Blade Runner’ and a few visual similarities with the anime have been pointed out by people.
The actual soundtrack is made up of an electronic score that is mostly subtle and atmospheric which consistently helps set the tone and mood of the film, as well as melding exceedingly well with its futuristic setting. It doesn’t stick out among other electronic scores but definitely fits its purpose.
With the acting, the performances are pretty decent for most part, Scarlett Johannson definitely works well in the lead role which a essentially a mix of her roles as Black widow in the ‘MCU’ and the Alien in ‘Under the Skin’, I also liked Michael Pitts performance as Kuze and I’ll never not enjoy a stoic Takeshi Kitano who has one of the most badass moments in the film. The rest of the cast are fine and work well enough in there roles but a mainly mediocre performance at best.
Finally – being a Sci-Fi thriller – the film does contain the action we expect considereing the source material, nothing to write home about but still enjoyable to watch and spread out nicely across the film. It includes a bunch of gun play, hand to hand combat and acrobatics which is choreographed professionally and features a few special moments.
Overall I found ‘Ghost in the Shell’ to be a solid slice of Sci-fi. It may not have the supposed depth and complexity of its anime foundations, but it does still have a small amount of thematic depth lurking there and delivers an enjoyable visual treat that is engaging throughout with an intriguing story and interesting world details.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Overall: 7.1/10 – Good
Reviewed by Eric Hart (Blazinhart).