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Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

It’s time for another movie review presented by our good friends over at FatCats Gilbert on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Baseline! FatCats Gilbert is the best place to see all of the latest movies at the box office including the one I’m talking about today, Ghost in the Shell! To see all showtimes and to purchase tickets, you can click right HERE!

This is one of the most anticipated movies of the year, and it’s easy to see why. The original anime film from 1995 is a smash hit, and it still has a huge fan base. To be honest, I haven’t seen the original. I should have seen it before this just to do some research, but I couldn’t get the time to do it, so I went in blind. I didn’t even have a great idea of what the movie was about. I knew about the controversy with Scarlett Johansson being cast as the main character in the film, so I guess I’ll talk about that in this intro. Why are people mad? This is a business. A proven fact is that Scarlett Johansson brings business. Actually, statistically she brings the most business. That doesn’t even take into account that she’s also a really talented actress. End of story. So let’s talk about Ghost in the Shell.

Ghost in the Shell is directed by Rupert Sanders and stars Scarlett Johansson as Major, a human brain, or ghost, inside of an artificial body, or shell. Get it? Ghost in the Shell? This is some high level stuff here, so it took me a minute to process that one. Anyways, Major is part of a futuristic police department that defends against cyber and technological terrorism with the rest of her crew called Section 9. She might be the perfect specimen for protecting against the evilest of evils, but can she do her job the best of her ability while also trying to find out about her past as well as the true meaning of humanity?

I just want to say that I have no emotional or nostalgic ties to this film because of the original, so that’s my caveat for this review. I think that this is one of the best looking movies I’ve seen this year. Save for one shot that I thought looked like an introduction to an Arkham Knight cut scene, all of the visual effects are mind-blowing, and when they’re paired with the use of color and lighting, Ghost in the Shell is so aesthetically pleasing. All of the neon colors combined with the way visuals can be used to create a science fiction world blew me away, and it was the reason that I found a lot of the film interesting. The production design with practicality was also great, and when paired with what was created on a computer, you get one of the best visual world designs I’ve seen in recent memory. I loved the world design and build. The world itself and the setting that has been created by this premise is really fascinating and cool, and it lent itself to the characters, the jobs, and the types of actions that go on in the movie. In this setting, it’s completely believable to see cyber terrorists as the biggest threats to peace and safety. Technology has gone so far that we’re at the point where it physically puts humans in danger, and to think that any type of future could result that way is really riveting and scary at the same time. Scarlett Johansson was also excellent as Major. Again, I don’t know anything about the original, so I can’t speak for how faithful Johansson’s portrayal is, but I loved what she did with the character. Most performances seem dry, but as crosses between AI and human intelligence, they make sense in context. She’s great in action scenes, and when she is trying to learn about her past and learn the difference between artificiality and humanity, I was actually compelled. I’ve heard that the original goes deep in-depth about that contrast, and this only makes me want to see the original more than I previously did.

I did think that as far as development and establishment during the runtime, Ghost in the Shell falls very flat. I found most of the story and the characters very flat, and everything seemed to already come about. I wanted to know a lot more about how the world came to be and how most of the characters came to be. Major was given depth in the final fifteen minutes, but prior to that, even she felt relatively flat to me when I think there were plenty of opportunities to explore the history of the mythology. I don’t need an entire prologue to tell me about the time, but I wanted something that discussed how we went from our modern times to where these characters are. I just needed a morsel to see the rise of artificial intelligence and the necessity for this type of police force. I’ll use a sports metaphor to describe the depth of Ghost in the Shell. The characters and the setting are both really great at what they do, but we don’t see the process of them becoming great. It’s like when the Yankees win a World Series. They usually win through instant gratification and automatically being good through signing free agents. However, it’s far more satisfying to see a team like the 2016 Cubs win the World Series because you’ve seen every piece of the team progress into the well-oiled machine that finally exists. Ghost in the Shell is the Yankees. There’s plenty of instant gratification, but I wanted to see the process just as much as I wanted to see the result.

Overall, from what I can tell, I think that Ghost in the Shell will please fans of the original because it gives me the sense of Japanese anime. The visual design and production design both give that world-building feel of animation, and the setting is so captivating. The visuals, both computer generated and practical, are amazing, and this is one of the best looking films I’ve seen so far in 2017. Scarlett Johansson was also great as Major, and just in case she needed to prove it after her time as Black Widow, she handles action amazingly well, and Rupert Sanders directs the action in the style of an animated film which surprisingly works. I do think that the film fails in terms of depth. I thought it felt very dry and very flat, and we see a world where everything has been perfected instantly. We don’t see the road to perfection or the struggle to get to the present, so I never fully latched onto or emotionally connected to anything that was happening with characters, setting, or story. In the end, though I think it examines humanity in a very interesting way, Ghost in the Shell still fell short of what I was really hoping for which was a depth-driven sci-fi film that stimulates my thoughts. It stimulated my thoughts briefly, but didn’t give me the depth I was looking for. I’m going to give Ghost in the Shell a 5.2/10.

Will you be checking out Ghost in the Shell? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm