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Reviews Comments: A pleasantly surprising good anime adaptation. Ghost In The Shell 2017 film/book review by gunslingerofgilead

Ghost in the Shell is, in my opinion, a genuinely pleasant surprise.

This movie had a lot of baggage riding on it going in. Negating the valid criticism of Scarlett Johansson\'s casting (which I will discuss later), Hollywood obviously doesn\'t have a stellar track record with anime adaptations (Dragonball Evolution and Speed Racer being good, or rather terrible, examples of this). Ghost in the Shell had a lot to prove in terms of whether or not Western filmmakers could successfully bridge the gap between anime and big-budget, live-action blockbusters.

Personally, I think this film succeeded with surprising grace. Much has been said about the visuals of this film, which are absolutely breathtaking, from the computer-generated imagery, to the sets and production design to the fantastic cinematography. However, I also think this movie succeeded in creating a very compelling story with a much more emotionally-engaging version of the Major at at its heart. A surprising amount of screentime in this film is dedicated to exploring the same cerebral themes as the original anime, and while the original anime still definitely outshines this adaptation in terms of how it tackles those themes, this film overall manages to stick the landing on these themes quite well.

On the subject of Johansson\'s casting however, I have to agree with the critics. I won\'t knock her performance, because she absolutely delivers as the Major and nails her scenes on an emotional and physical level, but ultimately I think that given Hollywood\'s history of whitewashing, particularly of Asian characters, it would have avoided considerable pre and post-release controversy to cast an Asian or Asian-American actress as the Major. Rinko Kikuchi of Pacific Rim fame would be my first pick personally.

Overall though I am pleasantly surprised by how well this film turned out. I can give it a solid 8/10 and would definitely recommend seeing it on its opening weekend, especially for fans of the original anime.

Comments

  • kkhohoho
  • 2nd Apr 17
\'A surprising amount of screentime in this film is dedicated to exploring the same cerebral themes as the original anime...\'

The original anime didn\'t have any cerebral themes. That is to say, it had themes; it just didn\'t present them very well. At all. Major was a lifeless shell of her original fiery manga self who existed purely to spout unnatural faux-philosophical nonsense, and that along with the Puppetmaster\'s likewise faux-philosophical nonsense was more or less the extent of where the original film\'s so called \'cerebral themes\' came from. So if the remake can\'t even capture what was was banal and turrid in the first place, then it\'s probably even worse than the original was, and that didn\'t exactly set the bar very high as is.
  • gunslingerofgilead
  • 2nd Apr 17
@kkhohoho I would say that if you didn't like how the original film handled its themes you'd probably like this one better, in that regard. The themes are presented and discussed much more through character interaction and (relatively) natural dialogue than speeches. One of my favorite scenes in the film is when the Major hires a prostitute just so she can touch her face and see how she responds to her artificial touch, and how that makes her feel about her humanity. A lot is said in that scene and it's done with barely any dialogue.

And also, as I said, the Major is much more emotionally compelling here than in any of the anime films. I wouldn't describe her as "fiery" but she has a lot more personality than her iteration in the Oshii films.
  • seuta
  • 7th Apr 17
The anime series Major Kusanagi certainly has more character than the major film. Though that is attributable in that they were trying to condense a rather large story into an hour and half movie. There were unfortunate cuts for the sake of time but it was what got me interested in the series in general as well as cyberpunk.
  • crazyrabbits
  • 8th Apr 17
\"it would have avoided considerable pre and post-release controversy to cast an Asian or Asian-American actress as the Major. Rinko Kikuchi of Pacific Rim fame would be my first pick personally.\"

The harsh truth is that the actress you mentioned isn\'t much of a draw from a box office point-of-view. It\'s likely the only reason why this project got pushed through in the first place was because Johannson was attached to it.

It\'s also likely that the poor-to-nonexistent marketing hurt it far more than any whitewashing claims. The Super Bowl trailer was just terrible, the marketing downplayed some of the fantasical elements to focus on a standard \"woman gets reborn\" story, and Paramount didn\'t seem to know how to promote the film on any of its social media channels.
  • maninahat
  • 13th Apr 17
I can kind of see why people would want Rinko Kikuchi in the role, being that she's basically the only Japanese actress in a mainstream western action movie in ages, but I don't think she would be right for the role. She just looks too darn cuddly, and Motoko Kusanagi is the last woman on earth I would consider cuddly.

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