GHOST IN THE SHELL

ghost_in_the_shellScarlett Johansson as Major Mira Killian / Motoko Kusanagi

“Beat” Takeshi Kitano as Section 9 Chief Daisuke Aramaki

Michael Pitt as Hideo Kuze

Pilou Asbæk as Batou

Chin Han as Togusa

Juliette Binoche as Dr. Ouelet

Peter Ferdinando as Cutter

 

 

In theatres March 31

5 out of 5

 

In the future, the definition of what it means to be human has been enhanced.  A vast majority of the population is augmented with cybernetics and robotics.  In other words your organic brain is basically an enhanced computer complete with connection ports in the back of the neck.  Even though there are different levels of enhancement available, there has never been a completely prosthetic human being, until now.  Enter the Major, Mira Killian.  Along with her brain, her body is completely prosthetic, no flesh no bones, but she IS a human being none the less.  The Major is a part of an anti terrorist task force called Section 9.  Section 9 is called in to handle a hostage situation at a business meeting where the executives of the Hanka Corporation are in talks with dignitaries from other countries about the future of robotic enhancement for the citizens of their respective countries when a rouge geisha android attacks and kills a hostage.  During its examination it was discovered that the ai of the android was hacked by someone by the name of Kuze who seems to have an ax to grind with Hanka corp.  To get a lead as to where Kuze can be found, the Major engages in a “dive” which is basically connecting her brain with the android ai to hack into its system.  The android ai attempts a reverse hack reaching into the the Major’s brain to gain information on her forcing the connection to be broken, but not before finding a possible location for the terrorist.  On further investigation of Kuze, the Major begins to suspect that her life is not her own.  She is continually bothered by visual hallucinations that can only be called glitches by the scientist that designed her programming.  As the major continually unravels the mystery of Kuze she begins to understand that she has been lied to about herself, about her past.  She begins to realize that she was “created” for a purpose and that Kuze could possibly have the answers to the questions that are beginning to form in the Majors mind, but there are powers that be who don’t want the major to explore her past and they are willing to go as far as her death to make sure that she is kept in the dark.

Ghost in the shell is based on a hugely popular Japanese manga series that has spawned several anime movies and a very successful TV series.  This Blade Runner-esque immersive world of cyber humanity is an exciting vision executed with relish by Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders. I am a fan of the TV series and I had a certain level of expectation.  I was doubtful when I heard that a movie was being made.  I was curious if they could capture the feel of the material to justice. It was just so mind-blowing to see that universe on screen in live action!   Hollywood has a tendency to rush to make a “hot” property just for the cash in and they ignore what made the property so hot in the first place: the writing, the structure, the innate feel of the work, etc. As a fan of the series, I can tell that this production team gets it! For the fan there is nothing here that feels off or awkward.  For those who are not familiar with the source, no worries.  The story is very straightforward and easy to follow.  Just sit back and immerse yourself in this visual candy land of the possible future.

Scarlett Johansson delivers a strong, emotionally nuanced performance here.  She can definitely handle the physical side of this role, you have only to catch her in any of the Marvel Avengers movies to verify that, but she brings a vulnerability to her characterization of the Major trying to understand who she is that balances well with the hard edged anti terrorist agent.

There has been some controversy over “whitewashing”, casting a white person in what had been clearly seen as an Asian character.  In some cases to a certain extent I can see the problem with that in other properties, but I think those naysayers shouldn’t have a problem with that on this film as that very subject itself is actually woven into the plot as the Major explores her past.  The cast of this film is a diverse one which is as the members of Section 9 are supposed to be.  My only beef is that they did not get enough screen time.  I would have liked to see more of them in action.  I hope this may be the beginning of a series of films so we can see that happen.

Ghost in the Shell is a fantastic cinematic piece of cyber, sci-fi fantasy.  If that is your game, you should not miss this.

 

Check out the trailer for “GHOST IN THE SHELL” below:

 

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