I am going to preface this by saying that I am a big fan of the Ghost in the shell franchise. I only everything that has ever aired on either DVD or blu-ray and have seen almost all of them. I have not seen innocence yet because I have been waiting for a legal release for a long time and now that I have it I will watch it at some point. That’s beside the point I’m trying to make. The point is that despite having all this knowledge of different forms of this source material, I find this movie as….okay. I can’t say that it’s a bad movie because there are some good aspects to it, but it’s not exceptional either. I’m not interested in buying in when it is released, but I will watch it if it’s on tv. It’s a movie that exists and that’s a lot more then I can say for those other live action adaptions that don’t exist.
Why am I not disappointed by this movie? Probably because of certain lines in the very beginning of this film. Lines like “we put your brain, your ghost, in this body. A shell”. Way to go Hollywood. Way to throw all that philosophical depth and nuance that the franchise is known for out the window. Still, it was better than I expected. For those not in the know around this franchise, I’m just going to say that the plot is almost an exact copy of the 1995 film. Hopefully that isn’t too much of a spoiler. There are some other aspects from other parts from the franchise thrown into it, but the 95 film takes the center piece. The puppeteer is Hideo Kuze instead, which is the villain from the second season of Stand Alone Complex, so that was weird and made no sense to me. There is a small in universe explanation and I think they were going for sentimentality, but it didn’t really work for me.
Let’s talk about the major herself. The casting of Scarlett Johannson was a major controversial topic that has filled the internet for a very long time. The movie does know this fact as well. In fact, the major’s name was not Motoko for most of the movie, it was Mira Killian. I don’t feel like I was qualified to say if this right or wrong because it’s a complex issue, because her race, name, and identity were changed to hide her from people that know her. She doesn’t know that her name is Motoko until later on in a somewhat emotional scene. I am glad that they discussed the white washing issue a little bit, but it still seems wrong. Then again, I’m not sure if am qualified to comment on the matter because I am a white male citizen that lives in the United States of America. If feels like no matter what I say on the matter I am going to be wrong in some way, shape or form. Scarlett did play the role pretty monotoned in the beginning, but that’s part of her character. She considered herself more of a robot that only serves one purpose in the beginning. The major only started gaining a personality toward the end once she figured out who she is.
The best aspect of the movie was its visuals and that’s kind of sad. I mean, every single Ghost in the Shell series is beautiful. The movies are always going to look good, but Stand Alone Complex is one of the most expensive anime series ever and it looks like it can be airing right now. I mean, it started airing in 2002. It was that ahead of its time. The only problem I had with Ghost in the visuals, because the action was great as well, were the holograms on top of the buildings in the city. Those are so distracting, why did those have to be there?
In the end, Ghost in the Shell (2017) was a decent action movie. It’s just not Ghost in the Shell. The reason I found it okay is that if it didn’t have the name Ghost in the Shell attached to it, it would considered a decent movie. It would be its on original thing and nobody would have any preconceived ideas on it. That’s how I feel about the new Robocop movie as well. I wish a cyber punk series didn’t have to be attached to a name to get any recognition these days. I do think that Ghost in the Shell (2017) is a good movie to watch if you are uninitiated with Ghost in the Shell. Especially for someone that doesn’t watch anime. Some of Ghost in the Shell’s concepts are there, but just handled in a more Hollywood friendly fashion.