#REVIEW: “GHOST IN THE SHELL”
Review by Jonathan Godfrey for Mr. Will Wong
In 1989, Masamune Shirow released his seminal manga (comic book), Ghost in the Shell. Set in the 21st century, the book followed a clandestine task-force known as Public Security Section 9. In 1995, this cyberpunk story was adapted by Mamoru Oshii as an anime (animated movie) with the same name. Despite its departures from the original, Oshii’s film went on to inspire a generation, and is considered by many as the definitional Ghost in the Shell. Nevertheless, there would be several more entries. Including the Stand Alone Complex and Arise series that released throughout 2004 to 2015.
Steven Spielberg acquired the rights to make a live-action Ghost in the Shell Movie in 2008. In 2014, Director Rubert Sanders began production. His Film, like Oshii’s anime, beings with the Shelling Sequence, a visual that depicts the story’s debates about the relationship between the mind (ghost) and the body (shell). Major Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson) is the ghost being shelled, and as payment, she is tasked to work for Section 9 alongside partner Batou (Pilou Asbæk). Her efforts to police cyber-crime leads her to Kuze (Michael Pitt), a terrorist who networks human minds to combat robotic interests. As the Major risks all in her efforts to take down Kuze’s operation, her ghost is awakened and works to overtake the programming of her shell. It’s a fitting story for this current age, as the role of technology is increasingly understood and adopted universally. Furthermore, the Film discusses the role of individuality in a connected world, a once niche narrative now mainstream in this era of the internet.
Sanders’ Film is as picturesque as his last (Snow White and the Huntsman), and presents yet another take on Newport City. The large holograms that adorn the city are not the only bit of visual brilliance mind you. The costuming, props, and applications of CGI are eye candy that is gratefully gobbled up. Last but not least, the cast is excellent. Even fan favorites like Togusa (Chin Han) and Saito (Yutaka Izumihara) get some great moments, but only Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano) is able to steal the show from ScarJo. Though many fans of the 1995 anime only will find fault in this Film, fans of all things Ghost in the Shell are going to love it. As will many others, because Sanders and company have created yet another valid entry into the growing ideologies of Ghost in the Shell.
Paramount Pictures Canada release GHOST IN THE SHELL Friday, March 31, 2017.