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Film Review – Ghost In The Shell (Live Action)

Very rarely do I feel the need to clarify if a movie is Live Action or not, in this case I really do have to make the disclaimer that this mostly spoilers free review of Ghost in the Shell is for the Live Action Movie. So let’s get into it. Cause oh boy do I wanna! And it’s not the fan girl in me. Oh no, no no no no. It’s my um… yeah… it’s cause I’m a Shirow Masamune fan girl.

So if someone asked me what my top 5 anime movies would be it’d

  1. Armitage the III Poly-Matrix
  2. Dirty Pair: Project Eden
  3. Akira
  4. Ghost int he Shell
  5. Robot Carnival

And if someone asked me what my top 5 anime series would be it’d be kind of similar because it’d be

  1. Revolutionary Girl Utena
  2. Ranma 1/2
  3. Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
  4. Yu Yu Hakusho
  5. Berserk

See I’ve got a lot of respect for the Ghost in the Shell series because in both cases it’s in my top five. So naturally I was going to go watch this movie. I could honestly care less about Scar Jo, she’s not a bad actor but I couldn’t really say who should have played the Major. And I did my best to avoid every preview that came out for this because I didn’t want to spoil it. Yes I’m a fan girl. I love Masamune if I’d have gone down further to top 10 Appleseed and Dominion Tank Police would have been in those lists. So my love for Masamune is almost as much as Miyazaki.

So the first thing I’ll say, spoiler free. Is it really seemed like this movie was like “American’s are too dumb to understand the complex existential crisis we’re going for.” See in the original movie the word Ghost gets used once maybe twice. It’s fucking dropped in the first 10 minutes of this movie. And it’s the most hokey line delivered. “You have a ghost…” Jesus, awright. Not gonna go for subtly in this I see. And that kinda set the pace for the entire movie. I did my best to divorce myself from GiTS and GiTS:SC but for me it’s impossible. See I wanted to be Major Kusanagi. Not because she’s gorgeous, but because she had her brain lifted from her body and put into another one. I have literally been dreaming of that since I saw this movie because it always felt like it’d solve my dilemma of being in the wrong body. So yes, to me it’s hard to divorce the source material. There’s a lot of theories floating around about the major’s gender and her sexuality. I always got the impression, from reading the books, she’s a girl. She mentions her period and things like that. And I’m sure Masamune would weigh in if we asked him, but a part of me doesn’t want to. So anyway this movie while named Ghost in the Shell and lifting pretty heavily from the first animated movie just isn’t really a GiTS Movie. Not saying it’s a bad movie. It’s visually very good and I honestly believe it caught the feel of what our future is going to look with augmented reality. I see this movie and I think it’s a great shadowrun movie. I’d put it right up there with Blade Runner for defining… oh wait… the anime did that already. See it’s one of the quintessential Cyberpunk animes and it helped to define the genre.

See there’s several key things that they kinda left out of Ghost in the Shell. Which, sadly, they have to cut out for the popcorn and soda crowd. Ghost in the Shell was originally asking us where the boundary between man and machine was and where do we make that distinction. The original cast are all cyborgs but Togusa and Aramaki. So you only really have 2 humans on cast. Nothing that Batou or Major do could be considered human. And there in lies the problem for these characters. Because they can do more than a human, are tougher and have a physical disconnect from their bodies it leaves them questioning their humanity. And it gets heavy int he anime. That major is pretty much a moody bitch in that movie. I much prefer the major in the comics and GiTS:SC but for the type of story it was trying to tell it makes sense and I accepted this. This movie didn’t have any of that elegance and it wanted to so desperately tell the same story while not telling the same story and that made it get lost in it’s own message.

I’d also like to address the “white washing” and boy… is it a serious white washing. Without giving away any spoilers. This is the case of a very clear case of White Washing. I made a post on my facebook feed about how I felt about white washing in anime. See a few years ago they got all up in arms about Leo wanting to do Tetsuo or Kaneda in the Akira Live Action. Well for me Kaneda is a Japanese dude with a Brooklyn accent cause that’s what the first dubs were. I was a bit miffed at the choice and so was the Internet and it got butt hurt and it was pulled. In this case the cast of Ghost in the Shell, despite their Japanese names, really didn’t look Asian to me. They were designed to be the types of characters who can slip into. And really that’s the way a lot of characters should be made. Unless clearly told that they are xyz race they should be interchangeable with any nationality. Now Rurouni Kenshin being clearly a Japanese samurai I’d be miffed if Tom Cruise played him. Some guy wants to play Yusake from Yu Yu Hakisho and I shrug cause he’s a little punk and really anyone could play that role. So in this case the part of Major being played by Scar Jo didn’t bother me. And I liked the choice they had for Bato, even if I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Togusa and Aramaki were both Japanese actors, or at least actors of Asian descent, and that made sense.

So as far as movies go, it’s not bad. I was, mostly entertained, by it. Not sure it was worth almost 30 dollars but I was seeing it for 2 primary reasons. To send a message to Masamune that I as a fan was supporting him and that 1 as a futurist am supporting the future of our cybernetic overlords.

Incorrigibly Yours,

J. E. Flint

Published inFilm ReviewSci-Fi