Ghost in the Shell Review: Adaptation is a Misfire

Ghost in the Shell is a property that I’m that really familiar with. This is based on the highly popular Anime Manga series of the same name by Masamune Shirow and Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 animated movie. Could the live-action adaptation gain me watch to learn more about the source material?

The Story: In the near future, Major Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind: a human saved from a terrible crash, then cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals.

Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Translating classic manga to the big screen in America isn’t the easiest thing to accomplish. A lot of times, it’s very hard for some directors to truly capture the spirit of the characters and settings fans will understand. It’s been done poorly before with the awful Dragonball: Evolution. And this movie wasn’t really anything on my mind because the trailers didn’t impress me in any way as it looked cool, but it didn’t grab me. Now with Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) directing a sci-fi film with a huge fan base, it left me unimpressed.

There are things to compliment of Ghost in the Shell: The visual effects are impressive as it has a really cool futuristic style feel to it that looks like a Blade Runner style. The production design along with the cinematography as absolutely outstanding and the score by Clint Mansell wasn’t too bad.

Johansson role as the Major caused controversy from many as it was considered as whitewashing. In the same topic that happened with Matt Damon in The Great Wall, if she can do a fine performance in the overall film, it won’t matter. They did try to pull something off when explaining it, but it makes no difference to me. It could be mentioned that they could’ve hired someone who’s Japanese, but they probably hired her because she’s a huge name that will be plastered on the posters and in the trailers. Overall, it didn’t bother me because her performance was good, although some of her lines were a bit wooden.

The reason why this isn’t all that good is that the story is hard to follow. Coming from the perspective of someone who never knew anything about this going in, it’s very confusing what the plot to trying to convey. Because of that aspect, it honestly made the film pace poorly, in my opinion. The script that was written by three people didn’t have the chance to really explore what’s happening or give any remorse for any of the characters. Like Major, I didn’t exactly care about her situation because it did get connected with her in any way. Sanders may be a visual director, but it still needs to be an engaging story to attach, which was the issue I had with Snow White.

Any fans of the manga and the animated film will be pleased. But for the people who never understood the knowledge the film is trying to reach upon, like me, might not get it overall. It didn’t get all the way there for me.

And the action sequences are cool to look at, but there wasn’t anything that stood out as it felt quick or memorable after it’s done.

Movie Math: Blade Runner + Lucy + Æon Flux x The Matrix = Ghost in the Shell

In regards to translation, it’s probably one of the best but it’s really isn’t anything to be worked up about just of how it’s executed for this kind of audience. Sometimes it’s difficult to make Anime into live-action movies as I think it’s also hard in other countries as they get the same type of ridicule as it is here. In the end, Ghost in the Shell does have its good moments like the action sequences, but it doesn’t pull enough strings to make this a convincing or faithful movie.

While Ghost in the Shell is visually glorious and Scarlett Johansson gives a fine performance, it isn’t enough for this adaptation to overcome its messy storyline.

Grade: C


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