‘Ghost in the Shell’ Where Style is the Substance

By: Ali Habous

It is finally here….one of the most anticipated sci-fi films of the year. Based on one of the most famous and beloved Manga Anime of all time, Ghost in the Shell comes with some seriously high expectations from anime, sci-fi, and action film lovers. As a fan of the original 1989 anime, I always knew that bringing this philosophical, cyber-punk, action filed product to the big screen isn’t going to be a walk in the park. The surprise is actually the long time it took to bring this one to the big screen. Some movie lovers are expecting a new age of cyber-punk from this release while others are expecting a new age of sci-fi action a la 1999’s The Matrix. Unfortunately, for all the potential that this one had, Ghost in the Shell turned out to be far and away from being a game changer, and its substance ends up being its own style.

The film is about Major (Scarlett Johansson), once a human, now a cyber-enhanced operative tasked to track down a deadly terrorists. After a fatal boat accident which almost ended her life, they moved her brain into a new body and transformed her into an invincible killing machine. However, not everything is what is seems when she realizes that her current target is not just a terrorist who is able to hack people’s minds, but also someone who knows a bit too much about her. You have Scarlett Johansson, an interesting story, big sci-fi action, and one of the most famous anime ever. What could go wrong? A lot of things actually.

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Director Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) is not Spielberg (Minority Report) or Ridley Scott (Blade Runner and Alien) and it shows here. He is not able to keep the whole affair in balance, scenes with stunning backgrounds tend to surrender the excitement and thrills to the beauty of the film, the action scenes look good but devoid of any tension. The acting is very stiff, everyone feels like an android including Johansson herself, that is mainly because the screenplay fails to draw out any real characters or human emotions which in turn keeps the audience at bay with no connection or emotional stakes. Even though the story is interesting, somehow the filmmakers refuse to go deep into the more interesting man and machine topic, and instead they take solace in scratching the surface, which is a shame because even I, Robot was deeper than this one.

The film is disappointing but not a complete disaster. The visuals are striking and the effects are decent. The director and his team are able to establish a stylish mood throughout the movie which will remind many movie goers of classic sci-fi films. The production design is the film’s main asset and the filmmakers deliver on that specific front. Ghost in the Shell is bound to disappoint many movie goers and equally struggle in generating box office receipts, but if you keep your expectations in check then you might end up enjoying the visual experience.

Rating: 5/10

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2 Replies to “‘Ghost in the Shell’ Where Style is the Substance”

  1. I’m not familiar with the anime like my boyfriend is, but I actually enjoyed the film. I can see what you mean about the film not bringing anything really new or groundbreaking on screen…I can definitely agree with that. But, for a non-fan, I surprisingly liked it. And, my expectations were quite low.

  2. it is amazing how low expectations can make the experience better 🙂

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