Director: Rupert Sanders
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Juliette Binoche, Rila Fukushima, Michael Pitt.
Synopsis: In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the worlds most dangerous criminals.
Review: In a future where cyborgs and crime are the norm, cyber enhancements are used to even the odds. Major Motoko Kasunagi is apart of Section 9, an Elite secret police task force meant to deal with the crime of the city. The film is very interesting. Some may even see how a lot of this can be the direction we in the real world are heading. Yes its that time where we address the giant elephant in the room. So you hear a name like ‘Motoko Kusanagi’ right? Does Scarlett Johansson’s face come to mind? A lot of people feel like she is miss cast. For what ever reason Hollywood choose to use this actress for this particular kind of film and its Japanese origins is far beyond the scope of this review. This is the film we got so lets review it.
This version of Motoko Kasunagi is nowhere near the ballpark of the cartoon series or movie . When the cartoon version is standing in the room, you know she is in charge. Scarlett Johansson’s version has to resort to bullying people around in order to get their attention. I know she is playing a cyborg and all but Scarlett Johansson really is acting like a robot. Unfortunately this does not work well on a big budget film in a industry where star quality is a must.
The main villain Kuze is still very good even in this film. He is from the cartoon series Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig. He is misunderstood but still he commits revenge crimes to get back at the people who are responsible for ruining his life. That’s very much like the character ‘V’ from V for Vendetta (2005). Kuze was not a bad guy for the sake of being evil, he was made this way. The film’s lighting makes since when Kuze is underground in the dark as a reflection of his emotions. He feel as though he is dealing with everything alone in the dark until he meets Motoko Kasunagi. Unfortunately this film makes a big mistake in telling the origin story. The 1995 version gives us the ‘Shelling’ process but shows the audience that Motoko Kasunagi is a cyborg and has already come to terms for her change from a non-augmented human to full on cyborg. This film on the other hand hogs all of the screen time by hyper focusing on Motoko Kasunagi and forces the plot to serve the character, weakening the story dramatically. This is extremely unusual for a Ghost in the Shell form of media since this franchise is one of the absolute highest quality, why? Ghost in the Shell is notorious for using story telling elements to create some of the best villains, excellent environments, and top notch screen plays. What we get here is constant screen shots of Scarlett Johansson’s facial expressions rather than pushing the story forward.
The problems shows in this movie when way too much screen time in placed on Motoko Kasunagi and not building up the other cheaters in Section 9 and developing the Kuze story line more, which brings us to the next problem. Two different villains are mixed into one character. You have to choose one. Either choose the Puppet Master from the 1995 film or choose Kuze’s story from Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig. By not picking one and focusing on a particular story, we have a weaker version of that story. If the creators of this movie had chosen to use the Puppet master instead of Kuze, they could have made a second movie about kuze and then made a third about the laughing man Blackhat. Wasted potential? Maybe not.
The cinematography is typical of a cyber punk style movie. its a shame since the director could have tried something new. The movies light is way too dark and the camera flying around the cyber punk city which makes the movie feel way too detached. You just don’t feel the city like you do in the 1995 animated movie. A whole lot of philosophy is missing from this version which is a true shame of the worst kind. Wow. Ghost in the Shell is the kind of franchise that really makes you think. This movie? Not as much. The whole movie feels weaker than the other Ghost in the Shell media out there today. The movie is not ‘bad‘, its middle of the road. Passable. To us at the time of this review, cyborgs are a thing of wonder. From science fiction to medical prosthetics, we see this kind of technology all of the time and its no doubt, the future. Transhumanism is the concept of merging humans and technology alike. This has already happened in the form of smart phones, smart watches, Bluetooth ear buds, and Google glass like camera glasses. Yes folks, this is cyborg technology and its not going away at all. From drones delivering packages to your door step via online ordering to popular AI that talks to you like Alexa the Amazon Echo AI, its already here. The movie its self is excellent because we get to see where we as a human race is headed.
The cinematography is great. The director knows when to speed up the story and when to slow it down and let the atmosphere sink in for the viewer. This is an artistic master piece. Its well paced, well layered, and very well written. There is so much psychology in this movie that I cant possibly cover it all. The cinematography is truly artistic. The music is awesome and very well fitting. This is one of my personal favorite movies. The movie its self is layered with all kinds of life lessons. From over specialization to personal growth. Its easy to see why this movie lead to many other forms of media in the franchise. Superb!
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