Ghost in the Shell follows the simple yet original idea that made the anime series so famous in the first place. In the near future, humans have developed technology that allows them to have cybernetic enhancements to improve various characteristics. Everything from increasing your vision capabilities to having a robotic liver so that you can now drink the night away without any consequence. But like all technology, the boundaries keep getting pushed. Soon a young woman (Scarlett Johansson) wakes up to realize she has become the first human integrated A.I. with a mechanical body fused with her human mind. Hence, Ghost in the Shell.
In preparation to the film’s screening, I began watching the original anime series to draw comparisons and to see if the Hollywood treatment would do justice. I wish I could say they did. I really do.
Ghost in the Shell is not only lackluster with the use of its source material but it’s lackluster as a general story. The plot is heavily focused on Johansson’s character the Major, unlike the anime which was about the team, and her performance doesn’t really do much to capture your attention. For the entirety of the movie, her stern facial expression remains stone cold and it’s hard to relate to someone who’s very robotic. I’ve seen films with A.I that were more artificial than her but had more human-like expressions that allowed you to feel a sense of care for them (I, Robot, Aliens). Wasn’t the whole plot of the movie trying to reinforce that she is more than just a robot but she was something entirely special?
With an uninteresting lead, an uninteresting story soon followed. Not only was the plot predictable to watch, it simply was uneventful. Nothing that occurred really stood out as memorable nor was did it hold large consequence. It was simply a translation from A to B with each scene that passed. If the plot included more of the members of Section 9, I could have cared a lot more than I did. There were hardly any team-oriented action scenes and makes me wonder what was the point of even introducing the whole Section, to begin with. This was a solo character film and when your lead is not fun to watch, it completely falls apart.
The only redeeming factor is within the casting of Pilou Asbaek as Batou and the visual FX of the film’s universe. Having watched the series beforehand I was greatly pleased to see that the translation of Batou’s character was the silver lining within all this mess. Every scene with Asbaek was a joy to see as he was the most human-like character out of them all. Sadly his charisma was shortly used as the focus was clearly drawn on the A-lister Johansson.
Just like Asbaek was great to watch, so to were the visual effects in the film. The future truly does look like the future and it does a great job of portraying how our world would look like 30 years from now. There’s a lot of background graphics as our characters walk by in the streets that simply just exist and this subtlety works incredibly well as it’s not in your face. It makes you want to re-watch it just for those little fine details alone and hats off to whoever took the time to create all those knicks and knacks.
But other than that, Ghost in the Shell is another forgettable re-hash of a great TV show.