Ghost In The Shell Review
So I actually have a copy of the original anime film, Ghost in the shell, released in 1995. It's directed by Mamoru Oshii. I saw it when I was younger. I remember liking it but I can't remember the specifics, besides the awesome visuals. This review is an unbiased view on the live action film, well, unbiased in the sense of the previous films.
A future//In a shell/.
Hands down, the best part of this film is the world design. Godzilla sized holographic advertisements tower alongside buildings. Elevated roads wrap around the city like a network of concrete. The streets filled with neon lights, even street holograms clutter the walkways. This film doesn't do anything new or original, but it feels believable, and most of all consistent. The robotic designs, and the augmentations are presented beautifully in the film. They are all showed off with grime and worn use. The robots, especially the geisha are fantastic in design and performance. The enhancements portrayed in the film are well implemented with nice physical makeup. The inevitable path we are headed in society is truly reflected here.
:/Scarlett in/:A shell//:
How could we not talk about the white washing here done by Hollywood! Okay, I'm not turned off by whitewashing of an Asian character here, because it fits the plot, mostly. I mean, one she's a robot, they are essentially non-racial, as their skin is literally artificial. Two, the company that designed her is American (In this film), so why would they not create a robot in their image. Three, if you watch the movie, you'll find out that her ghost is not an American ghost. Look, as I said before I don’t remember much of the original anime, so I don’t know if the lore there is contradicting. (Probably).
But, lets argue about that in the comments, just know, that I’d always prefer the non-white cast. Why? because look at how many white leads exist. A few Asian characters are shown in the film. Some actually spoke Japanese which I applaud.
Okay back to Scarlett! look if I had to choose a lead actress for this film it would’ve been Scarlett to begin with. She has everything you'd want in an action film hero. Watch "Under The Skin" and see her shine as a foreign being in a human skin and tell me you don’t want to see her recapture that.
Well did she?
Her performance is as good as it could be, given the writing which I will talk about next. She walks with her shoulders bulged and hunched showing the weight of her robotic shell. She walks flat footed and heavy, her face expressionless. Her voice monotone and dull. She did all she could acting wise for the role given. Her eye's fearless yet lost. Scarlett's performance signals the biggest and most flawed aspect of this film..... The writing...
::A plotted:: \\hack.//
You know what the worst part of this film is? The fact that it had all the resources to tell a great story. The topics and themes they could've touched were as numerous as the holograms floating in the city. The film toys with plenty of themes but discards them to tell a story of a bad corporation? fucking lazy. Let's talk about the things they skimmed over that could've made this film great. The idea of what it means to be a human. The film touches that idea many times but never dives into it. This is where Scarlett had slim pickings but could've shined. If only the writers had dived into the paranoia or sense of humanity through her character. Which would've of been the easiest thing imaginable to do. Her character suffers from random glitches in the beginning and goes to get them erased. The line "How do you know whats me and whats not," is just tossed away. Imagine how it would feel to think, that every thought you have could be pre-programed. Even this thought you are having now could be designed. You even see through mechanical eye's. What if what you see is only a program forcing you to see a certain way or certain things. What if every action you take or took, was truly controlled through a third party. How could you describe anything if everything could be manufactured. Those memories you had? They're just pre-installed software. FUCK, the blast I would have writing the existential crisis a character like this would have. (Dont worry I have a plot for one already). Did they do any of that no!
Instead we get a plot we already know the answers too. Key 1 one in creating drama, the unknown. We all know from the get go the company is bad. Why spend the first half of the film leaving bread crumbs for the audience just to tell them. "Hey this company is sketchy" when we ALREADY KNOW! Its a waste of time, talent, and space. Other topics they skimmed over, is the abuse of technology. Some characters are so augmented that seeing their bare mechanical flesh ripped up is just saddening. The fact that all the advertisements are for that exact thing, products that improve. You can see it in todays generation, augmented breasts, buttocks, eyes, skin, lips. Look at the stars we admire, many of them fall under the knife for the cosmetic, yet we idolize that they are the epitome of beauty. I almost want to vomit at the thought. Humanity has an addiction for becoming inhuman, its a brilliant topic to tread.
The story is beat by beat ripped from incompetent writers that probably read equally incompetent screenwriting books, or were following the wave of Hollywoods common brainless plots that absorb most of todays films.
[[a directors]] :link:
The wide shots of the over-crowded buildings. The panning into a giant circular building to establish a scene. This film had a nice shot structure that kept me in place and felt good to see. I could see another director easily do the typical Micheal Bay crap. This film feels very in-tune visually, with the original anime. The over head shot of an alley, puddles splashing with the footsteps of an invisble man. The slo-mo invisible water fight scene. There is alot borrowed from the anime. Which hey, anime artists have created some of the greatest frames in cinema, so kudos.
Time to start wrapping this shell up. The music was actually additive here, their were about two good songs that truly sounded unique and had a nice neon-style to them. The rest of the cast did a good job, besides the one sided villian that fell flat.
Ghost in the Shell could of been a great film, but its trapped by its lazy beat by beat plot, that plays generic and flat. Bummer, considering the direction by Rupert Sanders is nice. The lead actress, Johansson clearly put the effort to portray a ghost trapped in a robotic carcass, her walk even shows the weight she carries. She is never given a moment to show it off though. The enormous holograms and practical robotic effects shine showing a visual eye at work. In the end, incompetent writers incarcerate the film to be only a ghost of what it could've been.