Monday, July 23, 2018

Movie Review: GHOST IN THE SHELL (2017) Starring Scarlett Johansson


Director: Rupert Sanders
Genre: Sci-fi, Action, Thriller
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Michael Pitt, Takeshi Kitano, Chin Han, Juliette Binoche, Anamaria Marinca
Runtime: 107 min
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, suggestive content and some disturbing images
Purchasing Links: DVD, Blu-ray

Read the review after the jump.


Review by Popa Razvan

Based on the homonymous Japanese cult manga and subsequent 1995 anime adaptation, the 2017 sci-fi thriller "Ghost in the Shell" arrives with honorable intentions but falls short of its ambitions and ultimately fails to justify its existence.

Directed by Rupert Sanders, who has shown solid visual flair with his debut film "Snow White and the Huntsman", the film is set in the near future, as new technological barriers are being broken by Hanka Robotics. Scarlett Johansson stars as Mira Killian, Hanka's greatest achievement, a flawless fusion of a human brain and a synthetic body. The corporation decides to test Mira's abilities within the anti-terrorist organization Section 9, and a year after her creation, Mira, now a Major, has become an efficient crime-fighting machine. However, she's experiencing disturbing hallucinations, that could be glitches, or perhaps lost memories from her former life. The situation is further complicated by the appearance of a mysterious cyber-terrorist named Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt) who seeks to reveal the truth behind Hanka Robotics' experiments. Mira sets out to capture Kuze, and in the process recover her past, a dangerous endeavour that will reveal disturbing secrets.

Ghost In The Shell 2017 Image 1

The film received some harsh criticism prior to its release for casting Johansson for an Asian character. This, however, is the least of the film's problems. Its biggest problem is that, like most adaptations of an already classic source material, the film feels unnecessary, adding nothing new to the original, and ultimately proving incapable of capturing the essence of what made the 1995 animated film such a timeless classic.

The existencial toilings of our cyber-heroine are poorly explored, with the focus shifted heavily towards stylish action set pieces and stunning visuals. A clear case of style over substance. Still, there is something of a silver lining here. The film is handsomely produced, visually thrilling, filled with interesting details and even though the story is short on innovation, it still has enough strength to grab the viewer's attention. Still, it never really betrays the cyberpunk subgenre, or its source material, but it remains a shallow imitation.

Ghost In The Shell 2017 Image 2

In the end, I suppose it could have been much worse. Sanders doesn't commit any grave sins. He's in full command of this movie from an "entertainment" perspective. The narrative flows smoothly, the visuals are top notch, the acting is as good as can be expected, although I couldn't point out any major highlights, and everything clicks together just enough to give the film a fun factor. One curious decision was that of aiming for a PG-13 rating, despite the original film being R-rated. It didn't even help the film much at the box-office, since it flopped with only $169 million worldwide against a $110 million budget. Overall, though, I can't say additional violence and/or nudity would have added anything substantial to the film.

Ghost In The Shell 2017 Image 3

Fans of the "Ghost in the Shell" franchise will probably feel disappointed by the live-action version's shortcomings, but for the uninitiated, and those looking for some relatively clever sci-fi shoot'em up action, it might be worth checking out. Cyberpunk gets so little attention on the big screen these days that even a lesser movie, such as this one, deserves a chance.



  • Excellent production values
  • Stunning Visuals
  • Efficient casting for the most part
  • Interesting story
  • A healthy serving of thrills

  • Not much depth, which is a big minus considering its genre
  • Style over substance
  • Adds nothing new to its source material



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