Ghost in the Shell (M)
Rating: 2.5 / 5
In this remake of a Japanese anime 1995 classic, Scarlett Johansson stars as the Major—a powerful feminine robot fitted with a human brain. Superficially, the film stays more or less true to its source material. As in the original, the Major must track down a mysterious cyborg hacker while dealing with the existential questions brought on by being more machine than human.
While the original is a somewhat complex film, you can’t say this remake is in its league, but the deep ideas are definitely there to be analysed. This adaption feels almost as mentally testing, although perhaps for the wrong reasons. Entire elements of the 1995 film’s plot have been distorted or emitted to the detriment of the message.
The original film’s lofty themes—such as its meditation on the human condition—have been replaced with Hollywood-style character development back stories overwrought with sentimentality. It seems that the sensibilities of sci-fi fans have been bypassed in an attempt to water down the subject matter for a broader audience.
Despite this, as a standalone live action movie, the film itself is visually well put together. The cityscapes and set decoration are stunning and the set design has clearly been laboured over. Genuine thought was put into the various gadgets and gizmos used by the characters and action sequences are well choreographed. Needless to say, the special effects won’t leave you wanting.
While this isn’t what you’d call a stellar example of sci-fi brilliance, its winning special effects propel it just above the run of the mill blockbuster.