Friday, 31 March 2017

Ghost in the Shell (2017) - Film Review


I don't really enjoy Anime at all, I try my hardest and I want to explore it more, but for the most part, I have a hard time connecting with it. My expectations at this were at an all-time low, the trailers did nothing for me, aside from the music, and being forced to see the trailer over and over again made me sick of the film before I'd even seen it. Much to my surprise, I actually quite enjoyed Ghost in the Shell, far more than the original Anime.

It is very faithful to the Anime visually, but it is bulked up to a longer runtime and is inarguably dumbed-down for a mass audience. The story is far more straight-forward and less abstract, which I appreciated. It's pretty simple, a woman's consious is bought back to life in a cyborg body and is part of a high-tec police force that have to bring down a cyber terrorist. There's more to it than that, but it is nowhere near as complex as its source material.

There was a lot of contreversy surrounding Scarlett Johansson's casting with even complaints of "White-washing", at one point I seem to remember an article claiming they were going to use CGI to make Johansson look "More Asian". Thank god that never happened, what a misguided step that would have been. Johansson is great though, she plays it similar to her role in Under the Skin, a character who is alien to everyone else, not truly sure what she is and because of this she is cold and almost emotionless. There's some surprising family stuff added here, which didn't always work, but added more depth to Johasson's Major.

Scarlett Johannson as Major
The rest of the cast are good for the most part. Pilou Asbaek was decent as Major's enhanced partner, Batou. Takeshi Tikano is always great to see, although I wish he had more to do. Michael Pitt on the otherhand, I wasn't entirely sure what he was going for, I can't decide if he was brilliant or terrible, but he talked like he was doing Nicolas Cage's Adam West impression from Kick-Ass, it was bizarre to watch.

Where Ghost in the Shell really shines is its visuals, action and score. This is a gorgeous film that was reminiscint of other sci-fi films and games like Blade Runner, Deus Ex and it even takes direct shots from the original Ghost on the Shell. This really was a sight to behold, there was no expense spared in the special effects department. I was a little worried about excessive slow-motion during the action scenes thanks to the trailer, but there wasn't a lot and it's used sparingly.

There were people complaining about the PG-13/12A rating, but it didn't really make it difference. It might lack the visceral violence of the original, but it makes up for it in visual style. I had no idea Clint Mansell scored this until reading the opening titles. The score was one of the few things I really liked about the original and he did a fantastic job with this.

Dan Bremner in Ghost in the Shell
My real complaints with Ghost in the Shell was it just felt lacking in some parts and a few scenes really didn't work. This is also one of the shorter blockbuster films at just over a hundred minutes, but I felt an extra half hour or so could have made for a much meatier film. The ending felt pretty rushed and while I appreciate it was more subdued than your usuall CGI mash-up of explosions, it was pretty underwhelming and wrapped up far too quickly.

Ghost in the Shell will probably be hated by a lot and loved by others, but for me, I really enjoyed this adaption of an Anime I'm not too keen on. It's a visually spectacular, simple and beautifully scored sci-fi, and I wouldn't mind seeing more films in this universe.

7/10 Dans

Ghost in the Shell is out now in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

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