The heavily-coveted anime Ghost in the Shell has held a special place in my heart; ever since I was a young child in the 90’s, I would stay up until the late hours of the night, just to catch the latest episode of the anime. I remember being captivated by it, swept away by the beauty that was the first feature film. Flash forward to 2017 and we have a live action version of the film in the palms of our hands. Given the history of Americans trying to Americanise Japanese animation, I was quite skeptical of what they might do to my favorite franchise.
The film follows Motoko Kusanagi, the main protagonist of the series, who happens to be a cyborg with extraordinary abilities. After the viewing the first 20 minutes of the film, I was completely thrown off. The entire cast of this Japanese work of art was completely white-washed. The setting being in the heart of Japan, the characters being of Japanese descent, and not a single member of the Section 9 crew was close to their anime counterpart. Chief Aramaki was the sole survivor in this drowned out picture. Having him speak not a single word in English, but in Japanese, made me happy that they at least accomplished something during casting.
Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of Major Kusanagi was stale during some scenes, but there were also moments where she shined in showing the struggle Major has with her identity as well as her ‘Ghost’. The rest of the Section 9 soldiers did well with their roles as well. Making it very difficult to stay upset at the fact that the film was slowly blowing up it animated predecessor. One major takeaway from this film was that it was breathtaking; The visuals kept your eyes locked on the screen, sometimes making it difficult to focus on the characters and dialogue. This take on the futuristic Tokyo setting was so aesthetically pleasing and made you feel like you were definitely viewing a modern day sci-fi film.
Although the plot was intended to follow the original script of the animated film, this live action twin decided to throw its own twists and changes into the mix (like most American films do when trying to adapt anything). Some of these changes caused the die hard fans, like me, to turn our heads and ask “Why?”, but I won’t spoil what those changes are. Despite going into the film with low expectations, I went away from it pleased at what I saw.
No, I wouldn’t say that ‘Ghost in the Shell’ is a masterpiece and should be watched by everyone in the world, simply because the live action film wasn’t that outstanding. While the view was gorgeous, the action scenes gripping and the plot being somewhat entertaining, it definitely doesn’t live up to the animated film from the 90’s. If you’re looking for something to watch on an off day, with your family or friends, or maybe you’re just a sci-fi fan, then I would say this movie is definitely one for you. However, if you’re using this as a way to get into the anime, then I would recommend you watch the animated film and series before giving this a try.
Ghost in the Shell is available now on Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital.
Price: $17.99 – 24.00