Ghost in the Shell

ghost-in-the-shell-scarlett-johansson.jpgFor a movie whose very title references souls and finding meaning within glossy shells, Ghost in the Shell is unbearably hollow.  The packaging is nice but there is nothing underneath. At all.  It will leave you with a number of questions but none of them will be existential.

The first question is how uncomfortable should you be that in what I’m guessing is future Japan (judging from the robot geishas and the right-hand drive cars), basically everyone is white and speaks English. The answer, as always with Hollywood, is VERY.

The next question is how much are you allowed to take inspiration from classic sci-fi (and also shitty sci-fi) before you’re ripping people off. The answer is NOT THIS MUCH OBVIOUSLY YOU LAZY BASTARDS. Ghost in the Shell drops us into a grimy, dark, rainy future full of 3D billboards. To describe it as drawing from Blade Runner is too generous. There are elements of other fictional futures as well, like the Matrix, Johnny Mnemonic, and even Tron (lightcycles!). While this movie looks great at every turn, the total lack of originality left me cold.

Next question: does it count as good acting when Scarlett Johansson convincingly plays a Ghost_in_the_Shell_Scarlett_Johansson_2_aeac805303d6c795b51ea920f763a012.pngbeautiful but emotionless robot? As always, the answer is DEFINITELY YES AS LONG AS SHE RSVPS from the Hollywood Foreign Press and PROBABLY SINCE WE NOMINATED ENOUGH BLACK PEOPLE LAST YEAR WE HAVE A 5TH SLOT FOR A WHITE IN 2018 from the Academy.

Bonus question: does it count as nudity when a nipple-less female robot fights while basically naked? That’s a tough one but after much thought, the answer is SHOWING NIPPLES MAY AT LEAST HAVE DISTRACTED THE AUDIENCE SO THEY DIDN’T WONDER WHY THE ROBOT THAT CAN TURN INVISIBLE DOESN’T JUST STAY INVISIBLE ALL THE TIME DURING FIGHTS.

Obviously, lots of questions were raised by Ghost in the Shell, but none of them engage in anything interesting. Instead of the mundane, the film could have delved into questions like what are the attributes that make us human, whether memory is vital to identity, or why are we as a society unable to ascribe value to function in the same way we do to beauty.  Elements of those interesting questions are present in Ghost in the Shell but the film seems incapable of dealing with them. That is Ghost in the Shell’s biggest failing and the reason it gets a score of four glitches in the Matrix out of ten.

 

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38 thoughts on “Ghost in the Shell

    1. Sean Post author

      It’s a good thought. The problem is there’s no mention of power needs at all throughout the movie so if it’s a power limitation at play they didn’t set it up. So I choose not to let them off the hook so easily!

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  1. badblokebob

    I can’t say I’m all that surprised by any of this. I’m still going to see it though… in half an hour, in fact.

    I feel there’s a comment/joke to be made that if you combined this with Under the Skin it’d fill the gaps in both pondering the meaning of humanity and ScarJo nipples, but as I still haven’t got round to watching Under the Skin I can only definitively vouch for the latter.

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    1. Sean Post author

      There’s definitely something to be made between this and Under the Skin (which I haven’t seen either). Come to think of it, even Black Widow wears a bodysuit in the MCU so maybe that needs to be in the discussion too!

      Now that you’ve seen it, what did you think of the movie?

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      1. badblokebob

        I thought it was decent enough as an action-thriller, purely on the surface level of plot and set pieces, with some pretty visuals. But you’re right, it makes nods towards all sorts of interesting concepts without bothering to explore them in any meaningful way. As a fan of the original movie, it’s disheartening how it adopted scenes and shots without bothering to really understand what they meant, or could mean.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yentl AKA Nena

    My husband and I are fans of the original Ghost in the Shell and after watching the trailer for the movie we both said, “Looks good, but hope it’s really good”. Everything you just mentioned are our very same concerns about the movie being a dud. Might just wait until it comes out on DVD to watch it then.

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    1. Sean Post author

      This movie LOOKS great. The visuals are amazing. But there was just nothing beneath the surface and there should have been – I haven’t read or seen the original but the examination of what it means to be human in this world is a very interesting concept with which the movie seemed incapable of engaging.

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      1. Yentl AKA Nena

        That’s what we were afraid of. The concept is deep and thought-provoking so it’s disappointing that the main purpose of the story was missed. We’ll just watch it for the visuals:p

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    1. Sean Post author

      It’s a decent rental or airplane movie. It’s not terrible, just not as good as it could have been. And there is plenty of Scar-Jo on display.

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  3. Birgit

    Oh, look, a beautiful female star with an unbelievable body in a skin tight suit that makes you think she is naked just to have every teen boy drop his …..popcorn. It’s actually quite stupid of her to not always remain invisible….plotholes!

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. sportsattitudes

    Going to see it today…if only to see those scenes where the robot that can become invisible during fights doesn’t. (That sounds like a quality Mystery Science Theater 3000 moment…)

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  5. J.

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I have to admit, I kinda want to see this. Looked like a unconnected sequel to that Lucy flick (if that makes sense). All manner of bonkersness.

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  6. Kim @ Tranquil Dreams

    Great review! I agree with many things. It is however future Hong Kong they are looking at and it does resemble in many ways. I actually was thinking that while watching and went back to double check with the 1995 animated feature (haha! memory issues). Its also odd how they kind of try to explain the “whitewash” deal but not really at the same time. Other than some pretty visuals and score and decent action and homage to the 1995 animated feature, the story is not very thought provoking and unengaging. Heck..I fell asleep somewhere in the first half and woke up something like 15 minutes later (I think…).

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    1. Sean Post author

      It is interesting it is set in Hong Kong. Is their boss speaking Japanese? I assumed he was but maybe that was based on my assumption that we were in Japan. Either way I kind of liked that little wrinkle and wish there had been more cultural mash-ups to be found in the characters’ interactions.

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    1. Sean Post author

      That’s a really interesting read and it puts a face (or four) to the consequences. Representation in film (and in society generally) is a huge deal and something white people generally, and straight white males in particular, have been able to take for granted and this issue is too often dismissed without thought by those that it doesn’t directly affect.

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  7. Pingback: Have you seen this yet? – learnaswegrow74

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