Ghost in the Shell (2017) Review

When I heard there would be a live action Ghost In The Shell movie I decided to not watch the original 1995 movie. I know people hold that movie in such high regard and I did not want to be the person who spends their review comparing and contrasting the movies. That being said I watched the trailer for the 1995 version and there were definitely images that were pulled straight from the anime movie. Ghost in the Shell focuses on Major, a young woman who survived a terrible accident, who became cyber-enhanced in order to stay alive. She is now an elite soldier tracking down dangerous criminals and brings them to justice. As a new type of cyber criminal emerges, Major begins to see that maybe her past isn’t what she thought it was, learning that her life might not have been saved but stolen instead. Her search for answers puts her in the path of one of the most powerful corporations on the planet. Ghost in the Shell stars Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Michael Pitt, Takeshi Kitano, Rila Fukushima, Juliette Binoche, Chin Han, and Lasarus Ratuere.

Ghost in the Shell
Image via Paramount

I think there was potential with Ghost in the Shell but the story became a generic conspiracy movie with an evil corporation trying to take over something. It has been done several times before and this time is no different and offers nothing new. Not once did I feel any real threat for Major, not only because of the straightforward nature of the story, but they have the ability to rebuild her ‘shell’. I was able to predict pretty much everything from the first 15 minutes, which is something I am usually terrible at doing. The film also fails to deliver on any deeper concepts, such as our growing dependence on technology, implants and bioengineering, and what it means to be human. Instead we get a bland paint by numbers conspiracy movie with a protagonist who loses his or her memory, works as a super soldier or killer and can’t trust anyone. Been there done that.

Ghost in the Shell4
Image via Paramount

To its credit Ghost in the Shell is stunning to look at, with fantastic visuals and some awesome action set pieces. The opening of the movie was incredible, as Major coming to life looked amazing, and based on what I saw in the 1995 trailer looks almost identical. I also loved the opening sequence when she falls off the building in an effort to stop the assassins. That sequence was followed up by a really impressive action sequence when she starts to shoot the assassins. It is unfortunate that this movie is all surface and no substance, because that is the let down. When you see a movie like John Wick it is expected to be just surface action, but it actually has a great story making it becomes extremely popular, movies like Fast and Furious are surface movies that deliver what you expect. Ghost in the Shell is a movie that should have been all substance, exploring the concepts similar to Blade Runner rather than just a ‘pretty’ movie, and it is a very pretty movie.

Ghost in the Shell3
Image via Paramount

I think this might be the end for Rupert Sanders’ blockbuster career as a director. Between Ghost in the Shell and Snow White and the Huntsman, his movies under perform at the box office whilst also being poorly received by critics and fans. Personally I found both of his movies boring and lacking focus/ direction. The story and characters just go through the motions rather than creating any real stakes or reason to invest in the story, which is unfortunate given how popular the original story is for both properties.

Ghost in the Shell2
Image via Paramount

I did not hate this movie but it left me with no impression or desire to watch it again. I am now intrigued to go back and examine the 1995 animated movie, because I believe there is a great story there but it was just a part of a poorly made film. It felt a little like Jason Bourne meets West World only not as awesome.

Recommendations:

I really wouldn’t recommend this movie. It wasn’t a bad film it was just boring. The visuals are cool but it wasn’t enough to save it.

Ghost in the Shell1
Image via Paramount

Ghost in the Shell scores a 5/10

What did you think of Ghost in the Shell? Was I too harsh or not harsh enough? Let me know in the comments section below.

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12 thoughts on “Ghost in the Shell (2017) Review

Add yours

  1. Yikes. I was gonna figure this would at least be worth a rental after initial criticism, but your review makes me want to categorize this one as a hard pass.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The fun thing I think about movies, is how everyone experiences them differently 😊 While I usually agree with pretty much all your posts, this is the first time I have a different opinion (well, like the old saying goes: There is a first time for everything lol). I absolutely loved this film. I am a huge animefan, and my favorite animecharacter has always been the Major. While I agree that the original film is ofcourse a work of Art, and one that can’t easily be surpassed, this film did in my opinion do a valiantly effort. In my own review I called it Ghost in the Shell light. It would have been great if all the really deep underlying stories and philosophy would have made it to the live action version, but it didn’t. It also might have been very difficult to that. What remained was a great looking movie, which contained the basics of the original: what it means to be human. I also thought Scarlett did a pretty good job in portraying the Major.
    Ofcourse I completely respect your opinion as well 😊 Too bad you didn’t enjoy this one. Who knows, maybe in the future a new attempt will be made, allthough I think the chances of that are pretty slim 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There is a first time for everything I guess. Ghost in the Shell light is a great way to describe it. I agree Scarlett was fantastic, along with the rest of the cast. One of my friends is a huge anime fan said similar things to what you said if your review, unfortunately I was left with no impression. It has made me want to watch the original though.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s interesting. I definitely agree that this movie was lacking, but don’t think the issue was a lack of substance or a generic narrative, though I can see how someone might reach that conclusion. As someone who’s very familiar with the Ghost in the Shell franchise, I feel the problem for this film was how they tried to sample numerous versions of the franchise, and as a result they ended up with a hodgepodge of different narratives, which conflicted with each other.

    I think the challenge with a project like this is for the authors to find their own vision, rather than simply imitate and recreate fan favorite components from multiple past iterations.

    In some ways I felt the same problem happened with the original Silent Hill film, where the main plot focused on the conflict of searching for a lost child, but many of the monsters were rooted in the symbolism of a different narrative, one where the protagonist is looking for their lost spouse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment. I definitely agree with you about the challenge for the filmmakers is to create their own vision. It is always hard to adapt something that has a rich history or following.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed. If you stay too close to the source material audiences respond with “what was the point of creating a copy”, but if your vision is lacking audiences will remark on how “the other one was better”. It’s a very difficult balance, though there is always the option of creating one’s own story, instead of recreating an existing one.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think for video games part of the challenge is how at odds the two are. When it comes to books, shows, and movies, they all share a common thread in how all three are a complete piece of media that the audience shares. How we interpret it may vary, but everyone has the same source material.
        Video games, in contrast, create a more unique experience for each player. Some complete the story in 4 hours, others linger for 8 or 12, finding and exploring all the nooks and crannies, or struggling to overcome the challenges. The cinematics in video games are often little more than bookends for the gameplay, or transitions from one gameplay experience to another.

        Like

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