Film Review: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

© 2016 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – 4/5.

Author: Feargal Agard | Runtime: 106 min. | Director: Rupert Sanders | Year: 2016.

Wow! I had never seen the actual Ghost in the Shell before, but this version blew my mind. There is mystery, strangeness, fierceness and room enough for touching moments. Scarlett Johansson did a great job and the special effects are mind-boggling.

Ghost in the Shell takes place in the near future and tells the story of Major (Scarlett Johansson), a woman who almost died drowning with a sinking ship, but Hanka Robotics saved her life and cyber-enhanced her body, making her the first of her kind, a human being made cyborg. As a result, she devoted her life to be their perfect soldier. It is her task as counter-cyber terrorist and field commander, together with her task force Section 9, to fight the world’s most dangerous criminals, hackers and terrorists. Suddenly, they encounter a new threat. Which is a terrorist who will not stop at nothing as he sets out to sabotage Hanka Robotics’ artificial intelligence technology. She makes many attempts to track this hazardous enemy down with the determination to kill him. Eventually, it will lead her to a dark discovery that not only involves herself, but also the company that she works for.

Ghost in the Shell is based on a Japanese manga by Masamune Shirow. The film was directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) and written by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger. The story of the film is essentially a self-discovery story, because in the end Major wants to discover more about herself. She wants to be in touch with her human side and feel part of humanity instead of being seen as a thing (a machine) to be controlled by humans. That is why individuality and identity is so much interwoven into the story. It also has a fitting juxtaposition with the futuristic artificial and cyber-enhanced world that she lives in. All humans are obsessed with technology and in essence want to become more machine-like, but she wants to be more human and escape that reality. This brings us to the theme of the film and also the moral of the story. Major lives in a time that is so super technologically advanced that it does not even look like there is any place for nature (or anything natural). Their technologically advanced world actually is scary, and the theme seems to convey that humanity’s quest for technological advancement holds dangers. Therefore, we could conclude that the moral of this story is to appreciate our human uniqueness, because that is the only thing that separates us from each other and especially from machines and technology. The film stars Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbaek, Chin Han and Juliette Binoche.

Scarlett Johansson’s performance is flawless. No wonder most spectators are taken with her acting, because she always pushes the boundaries of her roles. She perfectly captures Major’s often cold and sad emotions, sarcastic humor and her powerful intensity. Johansson always puts a lot of energy in making her character authentic. For example; When she first woke up in the film she is hardly able to breathe. She is supposed to portray a human spirit now nestled in a cyborg body and her brain needs to connect with her new artificial vessel. The way that she shocks and gasps for air is so realistically done that it touches you and you believe in her performance. Towards the end of the story when she discovers many new things about herself and even though she had been very consistent with her flat almost robot-like emotional expressions. She still managed through her subtle emotional expressions to make you sympathize with her as she goes through an emotional period.

Ghost in the Shell consists almost entirely out of graphics and special effects. I am not sure if I have ever seen so much of that and I don’t think that The Matrix can compete against the amount of graphics that I saw in this film. The graphics were very realistic, seamless and beautiful. The futuristic world that Major lives in is absolutely crazy, people basically live in a digital world with huge holograms on buildings and on the streets. They are constantly bombarded with the newest technological advancements and pieces of information. Everywhere that Major goes we are confronted with robots and cyborgs who work and serve humans. Next to that a lot of humans enhanced their minds with technological devices, and even for missing limbs they’ve got cyborg-like solutions. Seeing all of this was so beautiful and impressive, but it also does a great job to serve the theme. As all of this is so overwhelming you come to understand that a world like this is not healthy for humans. Technology should be applied wisely, but luckily the technology used to create the graphics of this film were commendable.

I did wish that the ending would have had an even greater combat fight, because I felt that this film had such a dramatic take which is why I wanted it to end with a fiercely dramatic blow. Still, if you love graphics, Scarlett Johansson and the original Ghost in the Shell (mega fans might disagree). You will definitely enjoy this crazy futuristic adventure.

In Dutch theatres as from the 29th of March.

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