Nearly two years since it was first announced, and to much backlash, Hollywood has finally churned out a remake of the 1995 anime classic, “Ghost in the Shell”.
Set in the distant future, a special ops, human-cyborg hybrid named “Major” (Scarlett Johansson) sets out to stop a dangerous criminal (Michael Pitt), who may hold the secrets to her past. The original was influential on a significant amount of Sci-Fi genre flicks and filmmakers over the past decade, from “The Matrix” to the works of James Cameron. As seen in the past, when Hollywood attempts to adapt an anime, they fail remarkably. On top of that, casting Scarlett Johansson as a character that was originally asian, sparked an insane backlash from fans and activists alike.
Shockingly enough, Ghost in the Shell isn’t just the best anime adaptation yet, it’s one of the best Sci-Fi films in recent memory. On a complete surface level, ‘Ghost’ is a visual feast. Director Rupert Sanders crafts a beautiful blend of CGI and practical effects to create a hypnotic and highly-stylized, neon cyber-world. From a technological stand-point, the film rivals “Avatar” as showing how far we’ve advanced in filmmaking and visual effects. And seeing all of this on a glorious IMAX 3D screen significantly enhanced and allowed me to full immerse myself in the film’s universe.
But like it’s central character, the film isn’t all technologically-enhanced, it has enough brains to affirm itself as being intelligent. Whereas themes of identity, corruption, and morality were touched upon in the original, here they are the complete center of attention, and the expansions only add to the story, never draw from it. Casting Scarlett Johansson as a de-sexualized AI was one of the film’s smartest decisions, and the so-called “white-washing” plays a significant role in the plot. She brings empathy to the character, presenting the emotional struggle our lead is going through, and her struggle to regain her identity. There’s a lot to unpack here, and it’s all extremely thought-provoking.
Ghost in the Shell is the complete package, with the ability to both please fans of the original, and welcome in the new in what has the potential to become a new hit-franchise for Paramount.