After much deliberation and discussions between the other writers and friends, we have finally come to a conclusion about how to feel about the new American version of Ghost in the Shell. Before reading on I should warn you that this review contains major spoilers to the film. But if you’re alright with that, then proceed on. And if you haven’t seen the 1995 film of the same name then what the hell are you doing here, stop, and do yourself a favor and go watch the original.
First things first, this review isn’t going to put the movie in a positive light. Overall, I would give the movie around a 50%. Allow me to explain why.
The film has one big thing going for it; visually, it is incredible. However, the film is marred with not-so-stellar and frankly predictable plot and it lacks a lot of existential debates that makes it feel like it’s not quite a true Ghost in the Shell story.
While the director has mentioned that the Scarlett Johansson iteration of Ghost in the Shell is not a remake of the 1995 film, it certainly feels like the same movie. There are a lot of moments where the animated movie and the new film are shot for shot the same.
From the scene above to fighting the spider tank and ripping limbs off (not as intense, but they still were well done), it was difficult to separate the two.
Since the two are so similar we might as well note the differences. First and foremost, the main antagonist in the 2017 isn’t anything as crazy as the Puppet Master. He seems a lot less terrifying than the entity/AI created from the internet. Instead, he seems more like an upset terrorist/brilliant hacker than anything else. Albeit, he did look really cool. Still, he doesn’t seem as dangerous as a rouge AI. Not to mention that the Major’s name is different up until midway through the film (which I am willing to let that one go, but don’t worry, I’m more upset at other aspects).
Another major difference is in the instance that the original film has a lot of political implications and deep questions on life, humanity, and existence. The 2017 movie skipped the politics and only really scratched the surface with questioning existence (as it is the same Major Kusanagi at the end of the film and not the half human/AI entity).
This was my biggest issue with the movie on the whole. I had to rewatch the ending to the original 1995 film a could of times to fully grasp what had happened in the original title. As for the 2017 version, it has been dumbed down to fit a wider audience. I understand the motivation to do so and, depending on the series, I say it would be fine to do. But Ghost in the Shell? Ghost in the Shell has always pushed the envelop on these existential debates and the new film missed that important mark.
As a quick note, I’m not going to bother touching on whitewashing. It seems like everyone else is at this point, so I’m sure you’ve heard all about it. It is an issue but one that if I were to touch on, would take pages and pages of ranting.
So we’ve hit on the things that the movie did wrong. Let’s touch on the things that the movie did right. The most important aspect being that visually, this movie is incredible. It portrays neo-Tokyo in such a incredible way it is ever science fiction and cyperpunk fan’s wet dream.
From all the impressive CG with the cloaking, the filming style, and overall cinematography it is an impressive work of art. It obviously takes elements, sets, and aspects from films like Blade Runner and The Fifth Element and adopts them well. The characters are well done (they did what they could with Bato’s eyes) and I’m super excited to see all the crazy impressive environments that we get to see in modern film making.
The action is on point, not that anyone was worried about that being an issue. The musical score is incredible. I’ll say that if you are going into the movie with low expectations or just wanting some cool action in a cyberpunk setting, then the 2017 version will be your jam.
The acting is alright, I won’t get into it since I am not the best judge on that subject. I’m not an expert in this department, I mainly review animated films after all. I thought the cast did a fine job with their performances.
If you know nothing about the ghost in the Shell series and haven’t watched the original film nor the other anime series, you may enjoy this movie (we know some folks who did). Or if you are on the hunt for a general science-fiction movie that is entertaining and in a solid setting, then it could be right up your alley. However, if you are expecting a true Ghost in the Shell title, then I would say that you had prepare yourself for some disappointment.Tweet