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.


Directed by

Written by

Action, Crime, Drama, Science Fiction


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


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)


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)


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)


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

Hollywood Reporter


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)


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


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


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. (Graeme Tuckett)


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

NZ Herald (Alex Casey)


It's slick, enjoyably brutal and beautiful but, just like its protagonist, feels like it lost a little bit of soul somewhere along the way.