Ghost in the Shell
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.
- Trailer 2
- Trailer 1
- Super Bowl Spot
- Clip ('Wake Up')
- Clip 6 ('Invisible')
- Preview Clips 1-5
- Featurette ('Mamoru Oshii')
- Rupert Sanders('Snow White and the Huntsman')
Action, Crime, Drama, Science Fiction
Rating: M Science fiction themes, violence & content that may disturb
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)
The Guardian (UK)
Little White Lies
Stuff.co.nz (Graeme Tuckett)
NZ Herald (Alex Casey)