Review: Ghost in the Shell

It is positively amazing, how Hollywood manages to re-enact most of the scenes from the original Japanese animation, yet utterly misses the key themes and questions asked by the original.

The movie is about as successful in capturing essence of the source material, as a Hollywood movie for Shakespear's Hamlet would be. In the middle of such a movie, the protagonist would say to his assembled followers: "To fight, or not to fight, that is the question", a scene which would be followed by Hamlet grabbing ahold of a sword and a bible, banishing an army of ghosts in a glorious battle, and then returning to have a happily ever after with his lover. Entertaining, sure, but not quite as interesting as a visit to the theater.

Verdict: Avoid (and by that I mean to say: avoid it like the black plague). You are better of watching, or even re-watching the original Ghost in the Shell, or alternatively watching The Matrix, which draws some of its inspiriation from Ghost in the Shell. In my opinion, Matrix is more faithful in exploring the key themes from the Anime than the current remake.

Now, you might think that I'm being overly critical of the 2017 movie, and that the movie is worth watching just for it's entertainment value. You might be right, as you would be able to experience a wonderful moment exploring the uncanny valley caused by a visually impeccable Scarlet Johannson in the role of Motoko Kusanagi, which she simply fails to portray credibly. Instead of evoking questions about the nature of gender roles and sexuality, Scarlet is simply seen as eye-candy. A unique character, who is transcending humanity is relegated to being a mass-produced robot devoid of real agency.

Then you would seek good reasons for why the backstory of both Major, as well as the antagonist are degraded to simple run-away's, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

You might ask yourself, why the topic of A.I. is completely absent.

You might pause to wonder about the absence of concern displayed by any character with respect to hacking in a world, where the digital and the analog converge. This topic is so core to the original, that the remake couldn't completely forego it, but the characters mostly live with the hacking, without being emotionally impacted by it at all.

So yes, you're welcome to watch the movie, if you're not fazed by the offence to your intellect the movie really is.


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