Ghost in the Shell 3D

Out Now On-Demand

Live-action adaptation of Masamune Shirow's classic cyberpunk manga of the same name starring Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk and Michael Pitt.

Cyborg policewoman The Major (Johansson) and her task force Section 9 thwart cyber criminals and hackers. Now, they must face a new enemy who will stop at nothing to sabotage Hanka Robotics' artificial intelligence technology. Shot in Wellington, New Zealand.

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Directed by

Written by

Action, Crime, Drama, Science Fiction, 3D

107mins

Rating: M Science fiction themes, violence & content that may disturb

USA

Official Site

Coming nearly 30 years after the manga of the same name, Hollywood’s retelling of Ghost in the Shell draws liberally from 1995’s anime as well as plucking at the DNA of subsequent entries in the canon. Over the past decades, the ideas within - human/tech interfaces; the nature of consciousness - have been thoroughly mined elsewhere, most notably by The Matrix and, more recently, Ex Machina and TV's Westworld. In a sense, it’s fortunate that we’re not subjected to a retreading of familiar territory here, but in not offering anything new to ponder, 2017’s Ghost in the Shell only has surface-level entertainment to offer.

It’s some surface to behold though, dazzling with swoops through neon-cluttered cityscapes, luxuriating in an aesthetic that revs up the look of the anime in 21st Century fashion while largely retaining its feel. Taking an if-it’s-not-broke approach at times, director Rupert Sanders steals shots and even whole sequences that will be familiar to fans, restaging some, repurposing others. He innovates, too, with spectacular effects work - exploding glass and splashing water effects proving jaw-dropping, and successfully translating animated 2D images into a tangible 3D present, one that retains some of their visually poetic qualities.

If you sense a “but” coming, you’re on the right track. Scarlett Johansson’s Major is an ass-kicking weapon in need of a character arc that she’s let down on by the film’s strangely un-emotive qualities. Just as the Major is convincingly detached from her humanity throughout most of proceedings, the film’s comfortable when operating from her perspective - a little cold, maybe lacking in soul. Those qualities are needed in the third act, though, and never really arrive, nor does the film really attempt to get us to care much about any of the human characters particularly (apart from going “damn, Beat Takeshi’s cool”).

So not only will the pic fail to make you think about anything weighty, even with the heady ideas flying around. You won’t feel much either, and this emptiness will likely hold this back from forging a strong connection with audiences.

Total Film (UK)

press

Not the most original film you'll see this year, but Ghost in the Shell's visually stunning sci-fi world demands to be seen on the big screen.

Empire (UK)

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So heavily derivative it doesn't feel like anything new, and there's little depth beneath that slick surface. But it's solid and attractive, at least, with a retro appeal to its cyberpunk stylings.

The Guardian (UK)

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Johansson is always convincing as the robot Major ... Her acting style is just elusive or unreadable enough to make her plausible here.

Hollywood Reporter

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A heavily computer-generated enterprise with more body than brains, more visuals than ideas, as if the original movie's hard drive had been wiped clean of all that was dark, poetic and mystifying.

Variety (USA)

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Led by a resolute Scarlett Johansson, Rupert Sanders' pulse-quickening, formally stunning live-action take on the manga classic both honours and streamlines its source.

Screen International

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Even though there's an enormous amount to look at and digest, little of this film is truly memorable or thought-provoking.

Little White Lies

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No amount of whispered, meaningful monologue can hoodwink the viewer into believing that this movie is anything more than an shapely, empty vessel with delusions of existential sci-fi grandeur.

Stuff.co.nz (Graeme Tuckett)

press

One of the most visually and sonically spectacular films I've seen and heard in a year or more.

Pretty (but) Bland

I enjoyed this film because it was gorgeous and it had Scarlett and possibly those Geisha's because they might nearly be worth the price of the ticket alone. But the story never quite soared to anywhere original that we hadn't seen before and better. It saddens me to think they squandered what could have possibly been transcending . Perhaps it would have made a better series then restrained within a 2 hour film.


Looks great in 3D - but it's an empty shell

In an attempt to make us forget that this Ghost has already been shelled by movies from THE MATRIX to EX MACHINA, the scriptwriters of this re-tread have taken the plot of the original, gutted it of anything too challenging for anyone over thirteen, and reduced it to a gorgeous looking, action movie, with so little characterisation or complexity left that it makes Johansson’s sci-fi actioner LUCY look positively multi-layered by comparison.

SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN director Rupert Sanders does a bang-up job of making matters look great, pillaging from sci-fi masterpieces like BLADE RUNNER, whilst also staying visually close to Masamune Shirow's original manga.

One of but a handful of Japanese actors in the movie, Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano is always wondrous to behold, but has little to do outside of give a knowing wink to fanboys like me, always eager to see him on the big screen. Casting the ever-reliable Michael Pitt serves to jettison any tension in terms of who’s the bad guy, because, um, it’s Michael Pitt.

As cyborg, Major, Scarlett Johansson does a first-rate job, in much the same way as Kate Beckinsale does a first-rate job of wearing tight lycra in the UNDERWORLD movies, and letting an oh-so-male-gaze camera lust after her every pixel.

The support cast, from Juliette Binoche to Pilou Asbæk, Rila Fukushima and Chin Han, are all serviceable in their underwritten roles, but the script’s focus on Johansson’s character, at the cost of all others, limits the scope of a movie that shines bright on the big screen, glitters in all its 3D, CGI glory, but proves yet again the adage: all that glitters ain’t gold, and all that’s CG, 3D, slickly marketed and given a cool soundtrack amounts to bugger all without a decent script or characters to care about. Oh, and it doesn't help having a central “mystery” so simple you can work it out quicker than you can say “Hollywood Whitewashing.”

And as for that ending “twist”? Let’s just say after GODS OF EGYPT and even ‘The Eternal One’ in DR STRANGE, it’s time to admit Caucasians aren’t the only interesting, dynamic and skilled actors in Hollywood, or even Wellington, New Zealand, where this was shot.

SPOILER ALERT! Stop reading now if you’ve not seen it!!!

Okay, Hollywood whitewashing aside… how on Earth can you ignore Hollywood whitewashing of a classic 1989 Manga (and 1995 Anime), that now includes a resolution in which the filmmakers attempt to, quite literally, justify Scarlett Johansson’s physique now encasing a Japanese soul? Seriously? Really?


See this in IMAX 3D

That's how I saw it and I can't imagine it any other way. It's the only way to appreciate the scale of the cityscapes

This is a tidied up version of the esoteric classic but it works on many levels. The linear story makes it easy to follow and visually it's a real feast. Do we care that the lead actress is not Asian? Not really. Her character never looked particularly Asian in the first place. All the actors do a fine job. This is a great piece of entertainment that presents no challenges to the viewer and at the end of the day maybe that's just what it's supposed to be.