Ghost in the Shell is based on the manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. It becomes a famous hit in the 2000s and now it becomes infamous for the white-washing controversy with the supposedly Asian characters being portrayed by white actress Scarlet Johansson. It garners some criticisms over this and causes it to become a sort of a bomb in the box office. However, disregarding the controversy, is the film truly that bad? Let’s follow me below to find out!
The basic premise is a futuristic world where humans are outfitted with cybernetics for enhanced superpowers. Soon, the world’s leading cybernetic developer has successfully transplanted a live brain into a mechanical body, the world’s first. She dies from a terrorist explosion that kills her parents and only left her brain alive. Eventually, she is transferred to Section 9 Anti-Terrorist SWAT team, with her rank becoming Major. One day, she starts to see some visual glitches and also encounters a mysterious being that can hack into cybernetics humans. She begins to suspect that a deep secret is hidden from her and that she may be part of something terrible. Without knowing who is friend or foe, can she find out the truth before it’s taken away from her permanently?
First of all, disregarding the whitewashing controversy, I find that the film really tries to make itself as similar as possible to source materials. The futuristic city, which is a beautiful yet desolate mix of Tokyo and Hong Kong, is really well done in its conception and execution. The visuals are great, with each city depicting the dodgy run down slums and wealthy areas. Technology holograms are intentionally kept rustic and rough, with them being both futuristic yet looking less than perfect with many being fairly pixellated. Story-wise, it is pretty interesting, and it tries to explore a deep sense of identity crisis similar to the manga. However, if you have watched the anime/read the manga, the film will prove to be rather shallow and doesn’t address much of the issues as the original sources. This proves to be quite disappointing, resulting this film being almost like another typical anime-Hollywood movie, though it is slightly better in this regard.
Scarlett Johansson is a respectable actress and I feel that she is cast in the protagonist role is a great decision. She has the skills and fairly, her acting does fit the style and characteristic of the original manga protagonist. The lack of emotions and also hiding it is expressed almost perfectly. Other characters are similarly dressed up for their roles well that almost match the manga’s with some exceptions. Pacing wise, it’s pretty good, but the middle portion can feel rushed, as they try to cram as much story from a multiple book manga into one single movie. The rushed scenes do feel shallow, with the CGI action sequences barely covering for it. Lastly, the soundtracks are actually pretty fitting, with some Jap techno track with a combination of traditional Japanese tunes. These help to make certain scenes memorable and stand out from other typical futuristic movies.