Ghost In The Shell Movie Review – What Critics Have To Say
Warning: Content below might content movie spoilers.
Ghost In The Shell:
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Takeshi Kitano
Director: Rupert Sanders
Writers: Masamune Shirow
Screenplay: Jamie Moss
In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals.
Review by MaryAnn Johanson on Flickfilosopher:
more like ghost in the meh-chine
No, I have not read the manga by Masamune Shirow. I have not seen the 1995 animated film. (I’ve seen Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.) I have not seen the 2002 animated TV series. I have not seen the 2013 animated web series. I have not seen the 2015 animated film. (All of these originated in Japan, and fit solidly into the genre of anime, a particular subcategory of storytelling of which I am not much of a fan.)
And that’s fine. Generally, it’s a neutral matter, whether or not a critic (or a civilian moviegoer) has consumed whatever source material gave birth to a movie; either is a valid experience of a film, and anyway, most people who see a film adaptation will not be familiar with the source material, particularly when it comes to books or comics, which have much smaller audiences than movies do.
Click here to read the complete review on Flickfilosopher.
Review by Guy Lodge Varierty:
Led by a resolute Scarlett Johansson, Rupert Sanders’ pulse-quickening, formally stunning live-action take on the manga classic both honors and streamlines its source.
In “Ghost in the Shell,” the mind and soul of a brilliant original being are extracted, preserved, and rehoused in a sleek, expensively built, technologically advanced new body, enhancing her original abilities at some cost to her identity. That’s the premise, of course, of the cult manga created by Masamune Shirow in 1989, but it’s also an apt enough description of what has happened with director Rupert Sanders’ fast, flashy, frequently ravishing live-action transmutation.
Spectacularly honoring the spirit and aesthetic of Mamoru Oshii’s beloved animated adaptations without resorting wholly to slavish cosplay, this is smart, hard-lacquered entertainment that may just trump the original films for galloping storytelling momentum and sheer, coruscating visual excitement — even if a measure of their eerie, melancholic spirit hasn’t quite carried over to the immaculate new carapace. Box office returns should be muscular, minting what could be one of the more enticing franchises in a multiplex landscape riddled with robotic do-overs.
“We cling to memories as if they define us, but they don’t. What we do is what defines us.” This line, from a script efficient enough to belie its multi-handed development, is repeated in the film as a guiding mantra for The Major, the hybrid human-android cyberterrorism fighter here incarnated as a suitably otherworldly Scarlett Johansson. But the line seems a wily nod on the writers’ part to the fan pushback an American remake of the Japanese source material was inevitably going to receive when first announced, even before the controversy generated by Johansson’s casting in a role perceived by many as Asian-specific. (In a significant departure from the source, the issue of the character’s cultural appropriation is given a tacit script workaround here that is both rather clever and unlikely to quell debate.)
Click here to read the complete review on Variety.
Review by Tim Robey on The Telegraph:
For Johansson, this could easily be a franchise in the making, her own futuristic, post-human equivalent of a John Wick or Bourne.
We could talk about the style in Ghost in the Shell all day, and confine the plot to brief brackets. (It’ll do.) As Blade Runner did before it, this slinky, cyberpunk action flick makes its style the entire statement, pondering a future of human-robot synergy simply by visualising it in as much eye-popping detail as possible. The ghost of the title – derived from the Japanese manga comics by Masamune Shirow, which were heretofore adapted as anime features – is the human consciousness of the heroine.
Played by a black-cropped Scarlett Johansson, she is physically a robot in all ways but the cerebral: the mind, and soul, of her old human form has been ported into a cyborg shell. Her job, as an asset of the Hanka Corporation which performed this fusion, is to weed out “terrorists”, though the term is interestingly synonymous throughout with anyone who could be considered hostile to the company, whether they have fair cause or not.
Review by Mike Cahill on IndieWire:
Scarlett Johansson Stars in a Dazzling Reboot That Lacks Character.
Paramount’s all-new live-action reboot emerges as a dazzling logistical display with a missing file where the human interest might once have been stored.
Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 cyberpunk opus, “Ghost in the Shell,” was one of the first Japanese anime titles to cross over to Western audiences, and it’s been reissued and repackaged so often since the millennium that it’s scant surprise studio execs seized upon it as reproducible property. Possibly it was a matter of waiting: for digital effects houses to get up to spec, the right deals to be struck, and any accusations of cultural appropriation to blow over. Paramount’s all-new live-action “Ghost,” powered by hefty reserves of American and Asian money, emerges as a dazzling logistical display with a missing file where the human interest might once have been stored.
Fans need not blubber unduly. As overseen by “Snow White and the Huntsman” director Rupert Sanders, this transliteration would seem faithful enough to satiate those who just want to see favorite scenes and characters redrawn on the biggest screen imaginable. As that suggests, what’s been tinkered with is the scale. Oshii’s knotty postmodern inquiries into identity — a stopover on that sci-fi continuum connecting “Blade Runner” to “The Matrix” — are here stretched into IMAX-ready, 3D-enabled spectacle. Blown up to this magnitude, ideas already threadbare through 20 years of recycling start to look doubly thin.
Click here to read the complete review on IndieWire.
Review Ben Croll on The Wrap:
Scarlett Johansson Takes Us to a Souped-Up Yet Familiar Future
Too aesthetically intoxicating to ignore but too derivative to adore, this live-action take on an anime classic is a frustrating tangle.
Marshaling the very latest in digital photography, stereoscopic imaging and cutting-edge effects, “Ghost in the Shell” is a technical knockout, a here-and-now valentine to what design wizardry Hollywood can pull off in 2017. At the same time, it does so in service of a tired tale full of repurposed visual tricks, storytelling clichés and big-studio concessions, to the extent that the film offers a sleek modern polish to a story that feels about 15 years too late.
In that sense, form really matches content. For those who don’t already know, director Rupert Sanders’ 2017 “Ghost in the Shell” is a remake of director Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 anime of the same name, itself an adaptation of a popular manga series. All three tell the story of The Major (Scarlett Johansson), a cybernetic kickass ‘bot housing a real human brain.
The Major (here named Mira Killian, though in the Japanese versions she goes by Motoko Kusanagi — and the film does address the whitewashing controversy in its own way) is both an employee and product of the Hanka Corporation, a robotics and defense conglomerate in futuristic New Port City.
Click to read the complete review on The Wrap.
Review by Jordan Mintzer on Hollywood Reporter:
Scarlett Johansson stars as a cybernetic superhero in director Rupert Sanders’ live-action update of the Japanimation classic by Mamoru Oshii.
If the “ghost” of anime classic Ghost in the Shell refers to the soul looming inside of its killer female cyborg, then this live-action reboot from director Rupert Sanders really only leaves us the shell: 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.
Not that it’s easy to follow in the footsteps of Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 Japanimation masterpiece, which remains a cornerstone of the genre and sits somewhere between Blade Runner and The Matrix, but Sanders and his team have clearly opted for a sleek, watered-down version that eschews much of the first film’s A.I. existentialism for a futuristic shooter that never digs deep enough. Abetted by a few cool set-pieces and a gun-toting Scarlett Johansson, this Paramount release will see strong box-office returns before disappearing from most of our minds.
The movie already met with some criticism two years ago when Johansson was cast as the part-robot, part-human Terminatrix known as Major, whereas the character in Oshii’s movie and Masamune Shirow’s manga series was Asian. Such whitewashing is becoming more and more controversial for Hollywood studios trying to woo a burgeoning fan and financial base in the East, and nearly all the principal players here are Caucasian, save for a memorable “Beat” Takeshi Kitano, who manages to steal most of his scenes without ever getting up from his desk chair.
Click here to read the complete review on Hollywood Reporter.
Review by Lisa Nesselson on Screen Daily:
Scarlett Johansson plays an all-silicone machine with a human brain in the latest adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s modern manga classic.
So-called “fake news” may irk the current resident of the White House but authentic fake news — an entire identity — is at the slightly sterile heart of Ghost In The Shell, whose fetching heroine (played by Scarlett Johansson) is told a striking lie about who and what she is. Self-selecting audiences will probably be won over by the mood, wanton firepower and top-notch visuals on display in this lavish live-action version of manga artist Masamune Shirow’s modern classic. A “ghost” inhabits the no-nonsense female protagonist but mature viewers, scanning the busy horizon for more than a ghost of a plot, may find the proceedings more exhausting than rewarding
Intellectually we know a great
deal is at stake, but the emotional pay-offs remain frustratingly minor.
Rupert Sanders’ opulent opus starts its international rollout on March 29 in France, with Paramount handling major territories. Shirow’s original manga has given rise to two animated films, two animated TV series, video games and other iterations.. The questions it raised in 1989 about the eventual melding of human and machine — talk about identity theft! — are as pertinent as ever, maybe more so. But even though there’s an enormous amount to look at and digest, little of this film is truly memorable or thought-provoking.
Click here to read the complete review on Screen Daily.
Review by Ryan Baldock on The Hollywood News:
Ghost in the Shell review: Calls of ‘whitewashing’ and concerns from anime purists can’t stop this from being an excellent achievement.
Based on the hit manga and anime of the same name, Ghost in the Shell arrives with controversy surrounding it thanks to more claims of whitewashing. Let’s face it though, there isn’t an asian actress who draws in crowds like Scarlett Johansson and Ghost in the Shell needs every one of those extra pennies to look as good as it does. It’s about time anime started making its way to Hollywood (with Death Note soon to follow), and Ghost in the Shell is a surprisingly successful attempt at breathing new life into a seminal work of art.
Major (Johansson) is a member of Section 9, part of the police that deals with cyber terrorism, lead by Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano). However, Major is a special weapon, a human mind inside a completely cybernetic body. Major, her partner Batou (Pilou Asbaek), and the rest of the team suddenly find themselves hot on the heels of the notorious terrorist Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt), a man with a grudge against the biggest name in cybernetic enhancement, Hanka.
Rupert Sanders follows up Snow White and the Huntsman with yet another visual feast. From his previous effort his anime influences were clear, with parts very reminiscent of Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. Now he gets to direct a whole adaptation, and he relishes every single frame. The film is breathtaking to behold, and this is rare but I highly recommend seeing this on the biggest screen and in 3D. Sweeping city landscapes, and twisting motorways that seem to sink into the depths of the city, make this film come alive. Like the characters themselves, the locations have been enhanced, rather than created from scratch. It makes the entire world feel huge and lived in. There’s a genuine sense of vertigo during huge building dives, and when we see things through the eyes of a machine it’s like we’ve inhabited the bodies themselves. Every single facet of the film has been lovingly crafted, and with so much going on in shots you’ll need multiple viewings to take it all in.
Click here to read the complete review on The Hollywood News.
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