Friday, April 21, 2017

Film Review: Ghost in the Shell {Live action 2017}

Ghost in the Shell (2017 Live Action)
In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: a human who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people's minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that her life was stolen instead of saved. Now, she will stop at nothing to recover her past while punishing those who did this to her.
Starring: Scarlett JohanssonPilou AsbækTakeshi Kitano

My Thoughts:
I would like to start off with the fact that I have not seen the animated film this is apparently based on. Ghost in the Shell is a very well established franchise in the Japanese anime and manga industry and has a very loyal fan following in the West as well. I have an idea about the characters because I've seen two or three episodes of Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex(SAC). 

The characters in Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex
The characters in the Live Action

This would be an unpopular opinion but I could never get invested in Ghost in the Shell SAC.I watch a lot of anime and I've heard a lot about this series but I could never get past two episodes as I believed it would be an action packed police procedural but the focus was never on the action atleast in what I had watched. When I heard about the live action adaptation, I knew I wanted to watch it. Especially after I saw the first trailer as I assumed that Hollywood would definitely focus more on the action and get the story of the franchise across.

My assumption was right, the first scene of the film itself establishes the fact that Johansson as Major is an ass-kicking bawse and we see constant reminders throughout the film. The film is full of fight scenes and lots of battles which I thought would satisfy me. Unfortunately, I did not understand why these battles were needed . Maybe the director really wanted to keep showing off the Major's invisibility skills so that the CGI budget would be justified.

The film was extremely engaging when it focused on the world building. The scenery and the attention to scenic detail in the film was jaw dropping.I would start paying attention to the background as soon as one of those unnecessary fight scenes used to start.The camera and computer work was excellent.

Beautiful work in world-building 
Johansson being overshadowed by the scenery.
While a lot has already been said about Johansson's casting in a role originally suited for a Japanese woman. In my opinion, the fact that I had already seen so many films in which Johansson had taken on a very similar role didn't let me engage with the film. Her characterization of Major was very similar to that of Lucy (in the film Lucy). I would have loved to have seen more of the captain who speaks in Japanese throughout the film. Takeshi Kitano was perfectly cast and I hope he takes on more roles in Hollywood. 

Takeshi Kitano in the film
The biggest weakness of the film is it's story-line. Various characters and plot points are introduced and then left alone. There was a scene in which a character lost their real eyes and had to get prosthetic replacements, the entire ordeal is brushed aside and mentioned in passing. No effort is put into emoting the pain and suffering of certain characters.This makes it very hard for the audience to care about the characters as well. It is only when morality and humanity is discussed that any character seems to show emotion.

Overall, I loved the world that I was introduced to and am definitely going to give the animated versions of Ghost in the Shell a chance. Despite the weaknesses of the film it made me curious about the source material and I would still go and watch the sequel (if there is any) to see more of the world and characters apart from Johansson's Major. 

My Thoughts:

Beautifully shot film that introduces an intriguing new world.

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