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All Shell, No Ghost

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On the one hand, Ghost in the Shell isn't a disaster. Given the history of videogame and anime movie adaptations, that's a considerable accomplishment. At the very least, it drew a faithful real-life portrait of the cyberpunk world of Ghost in the Shell and hit most of the iconic action beats of the original animated film. On the other hand, it tossed most of the important themes and potent atmosphere (the things that make GitS great) out the window in pursuit of a simplified, easily digestible plot. The dialogue lacked any nuance and the best modern CG and special effects don't look as good or feel as compelling as the hand drawn animation of 22 years ago.


The movie is at its best in the action scenes where thermoptic camouflage comes to life and when the creepy geisha bots and other maliciously hacked technology instill the cold blooded potential of transhumanism in our psyche. Also good are the quieter moments when Batou feeds the neighborhood dogs (including a basset hound, of course) and the Major quietly explores the world, searching for her place in it. The movie loses its way when the driving force of the plot becomes the scandal behind how the Major was created (instead of the much more important philosophical question about what her existence means) and the villain emerges as the most typical of bad guy cliches.


There's also some glaring hypocrisy in the ending (spoiler) since our heroic characters have been going on about justice and not killing people, and in the climax, they summarily execute the villain instead of bringing him to justice. The Major, in fact, explicitly calls for this, even though she was the most vocal opponent of unjust killing and human rights abuse throughout the film. Character motivation? Consistency? Feh. You can certainly argue that the villain deserved to die, but ordering an execution of someone who's surrendered makes every word the Major spoke earlier feel completely hollow.


Despite its flaws, I felt engaged. It was well paced, the casting was solid and the acting was serviceable. It was competently filmed, if not dazzling in its angles. I never once looked at my watch (always a good sign) and there were moments, such as Batou losing his human eyes to cybernetic eyes, that offered something different from the animated films and were genuinely cool to see in live action.


It's definitely worth a watch, but I wouldn't rush to the theater to see it. This movie feels like it was tailor made for streaming services to cure your boredom on a rainy afternoon or quiet evening. If you're a GitS fan, you'll almost definitely enjoy it more if you approach this adaptation with low expectations. As a film, it's only slightly better than mediocre, and yet, I was prepared for so much worse. So, while it's a back-handed compliment, I feel like this is the best GitS adaptation that could have been made by the creatively bankrupt Hollywood of 2017. The brilliance of Mamoru Oshii was never within their reach.



6/10
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Added by Hereticked
6 months ago on 6 April 2017 22:10




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