Let’s all just agree that ScarJo is a bad ass.It’s worth mentioning up front that I have never read a Ghost in the Shell book or watched one of the animated films. I’ve never seen an episode of the Ghost in the Shell television series or played one of the video games. Believe it or not, I haven’t even seen the OVA. I went into this new film adaptation with a completely clear mind. Alright, maybe not completely clear, but it’s safe to say that I didn’t know much about the source material walking into the theater.
I feel as though the marketing for this film was perfect. There were some teaser scenes online and a Super Bowl spot, but nothing really gave away much of the story. Newcomers were intrigued because we had no idea what the hell it was, while the fans knew exactly what was coming. Honestly, I (like many others) will see anything if Scarlett Johansson is in it, and the studio behind this film knows that.
Ghost in the Shell is about a woman named Major (Scarlett Johansson) who is the first human to have her brain (or ghost if you will) implanted into an artificial body (the shell… get it?). When Major wakes up in her new body for the first time she is told that she was the victim of a terrible accident caused by terrorists. Therefore, in order to save her life a brain swap procedure was apparently the only option.
Skip forward a year and Major is now a super soldier whose sole mission in life is to take down all of the bad guys. Terrorists have reached new heights (or lows, depending on how you look at it) and can now hijack people’s minds, so Major and her team set out to stop them. Along the way she also finds out that everything she was told about her past is a lie. Tough break.
Visually this film is amazing. Very The Fifth Element looking, however, from what I understand the visuals also stay true to the original animated series. The entire world that has been constructed for this film is rich with giant skyscrapers, neon lights, tons of advertisements, flying cars, and plenty of cool future gadgets to keep most people entertained. Also, Scarlett Johansson is pretty much naked for the entire film sans nipples, and that’s just silly. Though you’ll quickly forget about the nipple thing while you watch her pull off some of her best Natasha Romanoff moves.
The supporting cast is where it gets a little dull. At times I felt little to no emotion behind the lines of dialogue being delivered. Takeshi Kitano who plays Chief Daisuke Aramaki has literally one facial expression throughout the entire film. I don’t want to call out too many actors because some of the roles are spoilers of sorts, but even a seasoned vet like Juliette Binoche seemed to be bringing her B- game. The only real shining star aside from Johansson is definitely Pilou Asbæk who plays Batou. Batou is basically Major’s sidekick that can kick anyone’s ass but is also a giant teddy bear. A giant teddy bear with cybernetic eyes.
To sum it up, as someone unfamiliar with the source material I was able to find entertainment in the visuals and the Scarlett Johansson ass-kicking. The story starts off slow and is a little predictable at times and the acting could have been a little better, but you’ll likely be too distracted by the visuals to really care. Unless you’re a diehard fan of the series, which in that case you’ll be too busy telling everyone how much better the manga is. Either way, this movie was well executed, just not enough to get me to go back and watch/read the original stuff.