Not too long (one day) after watching the original 1995 animated film, I went to the cinemas to see this film, the 2017 live-action American remake, ‘Ghost in the Shell (2017)’. How does this film differ from the 1995 original? and how does it compare?
A remake of a 1995 animated film, the premise is similar, but with a few key differences. The movie takes place in the future in a city, probably the same one from the original, but probably not. The movie follows Major Mira Killian, a woman whose parents were killed in a terrorist attack when she entered the country, which also led to her having to have her entire body replaced with a robotic “shell” in which only her brain remains human. Major Killian works for law enforcement group Section 9, working to stop terrorists like the ones that killed her parents and turned her into a cyborg. The company that built Killian’s body and supplies Section 9 with it’s arms, Hanka Robotics, is targeted by a mysterious person known as Kuze who can control people remotely and alter their memories.
The biggest issue this movie has is that it looks like a lot of the people that say they hate the movie either haven’t seen it or went in to the cinema having already decided that they don’t like it, and that’s the territory for live-action adaptations of animated properties, but if you go in understanding that this is not the 1995 original, isn’t trying to replace or erase the original 1995 film, and is in fact a Hollywood action movie starring Scarlett Johansson, you’ll be more likely to enjoy it.
Let’s start by mentioning the story. It’s stupid. As mentioned prior, the Major is now a full-body replacement cyborg after the boat she and her parents were on when they entered the country was blown up by terrorists, killing her parents and basically destroying most of her body. Now she works for Section 9 to stop terrorists or something. She has to regularly report to Hanka Robotics to make sure her brain doesn’t reject her new body, a side effect is that she sometimes hallucinates a Japanese pagoda-looking thing (but maybe it isn’t a glitch, woooooaahhh)
The story in this movies doesn’t matter and is just there to string together barely connected scenes, both original and lifted almost shot-for-shot from the 1995 film.
The one thing this movie has going for it the most, though, is the visuals. They’re actually really good. Which isn’t surprising, this is a Hollywood action film. This film is pretty enough to have an art book of its own (Though it probably isn’t as good as the older film’s book, funnily enough). The city shown in this film is a lot more high-tech and CGI-ful than the 1995 version. It’s full of giant holographic projections and advertisements as large as skyscrapers. Shining glass and busy streets full of sleek, retro futuristic cars. The city actually feels alive, most of the time, sometimes even more coherent of a setting than the 1995 original. My crappy .gifs and .jpgs can’t really do the visuals justice, they really are good.
I don’t really think that there’s much else to talk about with this film. A lot of the action was admittedly cool, but now, a few down the line, nothing much was very memorable other than the scenes I already remember from the original anime. And that’s the movie’s biggest problem, that it is “Ghost in the Shell”. Though it would need to lose a few scenes that it borrowed from the 1995 film, this ‘Ghost in the Shell’ would have benefited from a lack of connection from it’s source material, it would still probably sell well, being a Scarlett Johansson sci-fi action movie and it would lose the whole whitewashing nonsense that surrounds the movie even now. (Seriously, the Japanese don’t care and neither should you).
Overall, the movie was different enough to separate it from it’s source material and make it its own movie, but at the same time, you compare every scene that they recreate to it’s anime counterpart, and this one loses out there.
I think you should check this out if it looks any good to you, because if you already don’t like for whatever reason, me telling you what’s good isn’t going to change the fact that you’ll leave the cinema with the same impressions of the film you had going in, and that’s a shame.
You can watch a trailer for ‘Ghost in the Shell (2017)’ here.