Movie Spotlight: Ghost in the Shell

Poster for the movie "Ghost in the Shell"Synopsis: In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: a human who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people’s minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that her life was stolen instead of saved. Now, she will stop at nothing to recover her past while punishing those who did this to her.

Desolately Short Opinion: Despite some gaping flaws and a very troubled production run, Ghost in the Shell came out as a solid sci-fi action flick. While it may not please hardcore fans of the franchise all the way through, newcomers will (for the most part) enjoy it regardless.


Image from the movie "Ghost in the Shell"

Desolately long opinion…

After a storm of outcry over the film’s almost entirely caucasian cast, Ghost in the Shell somehow managed to finish production and release world wide to a roar of disapproving fans. Some argued that the story, characters and general feel of the film is distinctly Asian while others disagreed entirely, saying that the entire cast can in fact be a bunch of random white people. The truth is, love it or hate it, agree or disagree, whitewashing is a problem in Hollywood and has always been. While Ghost in the Shell might be able to worm its way out of anything concrete and cite vague ‘raceless’ references, other films such as the planned WW2 film Ni’ihau and past disasters such as Avatar: The Last Airbender stand at attention as prime examples of diverse characters simply being whitewashed.

My personal opinion is that Ghost in the Shell might have been better received with an all Asian cast and came out as something a lot more epic. You know, something along the lines of the Attack On Titan live action film? Not to mention people would have enjoyed the film a lot more without the dark cloud of whitewashing accusations hanging over it. I know I would have.

(For further examples of whitewashed films, see this list.)

Scarlett Johansson didn’t do too badly as Motoko Kusanagi and quite frankly the casting could have been a lot worse in general. It could have been a lot worse, okay? You guys could have gotten another Dragonball: Evolution and then casting would have been the least of your worries.

I’m also quite happy that the other pitfall this film gracefully avoided was an unnecessary rewrite of the story. I mean, we could have gotten a Dark Tower type rewrite that nobody understands with a minor character suddenly becoming the central focus of the entire story. Wouldn’t that have been great? Imagine them making the one random guy who gets killed at the start of the movie the main character and sideline Motoko in favour of flashbacks of that guy dealing with life issues. Fun stuff. There’s a ticket seller right there.

Let’s just be grateful that we got a live action adaption that remains (relatively) faithful to its core material without getting too adventurous at the same time.

All in all this film is decent on many levels but probably won’t be on any ‘best ever’ or ‘top 5 greatest’ lists anytime soon. Ghost in the Shell is great for absolute die-hard fans who willingly overlook it’s unevenly paced tones and for newcomers to the franchise who simply don’t know any better. I myself enjoyed the film and thought it was pretty solid. Ghost in the Shell is by far not the worst film of 2017 but it sure as hell is scraping by very close to the bottom.

What the critics had to say…

The film opened to generally mixed reviews due to the ‘whitewashing’ accusations it faced through all stages of its development. Release day was no different.

In general Ghost in the Shell received a mild-mannered, mediocre reaction from fans and critics alike with most critics hammering on the fact that the film was all eye candy and little substance. Variety’s Guy Lodge received the film well while critics such as Dan Jolin from Empire and Sandy Schaefer from Screen Rant were far less impressed, stating that the film struggles not only with engaging the audience and presenting a proper story but with depth and substance as well.

Some moviegoers generally liked the film, citing obvious (forgivable) flaws here and there, mostly relating to the ‘whitewashing’ cloud that surrounded it and the fact that the film is an exact rehash of the Ghost in the Shell stories before it. While the film is in fact supposed to be a direct live-action adaption of the original story, it seems older fans who are more familiar with the universe would have liked to see something new entirely. People who had no idea about the long and tangled history of Ghost in the Shell though had little to complain about as it seems everyone enjoyed the action and visuals to some degree.

Ghost in the Shell currently holds a 44% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and got 6.5/10 on IMDb. While not the most successful film ever, at least it wasn’t a total failure and might even proceed to gather more fans long after it’s so far troubled existence.

Image from the movie "Ghost in the Shell"

What we liked in particular…

  • The CGI is great, effects are awesome, A+ on the visuals overall
  • Scarlett Johansson found an excuse to be nude again in a film
  • The soundtrack is pretty good and accompanies the film well
  • Future cyberpunk sort of stuff like this is still original
  • The film reminded us of Blade Runner
  • The story follows the original subject matter closely enough to please most fans
  • The overall concept of the film, resurrected souls in robot bodies are awesome

What we didn’t like so much…

  • The obvious whitewashing stink surrounding the cast of the film
  • The constant whining from people defending the film
  • The constant whining from people attacking the film
  • That dude with the eyes came across as a weird fusion between Duke Nukem and He-Man
  • Scarlett Johansson could have at least tried to have a personality of some sort
  • Troubled hero characters are a cliche and amnesia is an overused plot element
  • The pace of the story and uneven scene advancement

What we would have liked…

  • More Asian people and less white people
  • A complimentary popcorn and maybe a drink
  • Scarlett Johansson not playing Motoko like she’s one of the X-Men
  • Maybe a darker tone to the film in general similar to the animated counterpart

Image from the movie "Ghost in the Shell"

Some fun facts about Ghost in the Shell…

  • Margot Robbie was considered for the lead role. However, negotiations broke down and the role was offered to Scarlett Johansson.
  • Matthias Schoenaerts was considered for the male lead of Batou. Pilou Asbæk was cast instead.
  • This film’s production was met with controversy over the choice to cast the lead role of Major Motoko Kusanagi (a Japanese character in the original source material and previous adaptations) as white, with the role going to Scarlett Johansson. Online protests over Hollywood whitewashing flared up in April 2016 when Paramount Pictures released the first promotional image of Johansson in costume. The anger toward her casting was exacerbated by reports that Lola VFX, the company behind the character-aging effects in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), was commissioned to manage tests on visual effects to make white actors look Asian, though the results were reportedly rejected immediately upon their review.
  • Three of the cast members have also taken part on Game of Thrones (2011). This includes Pilou Asbæk, Joseph Naufahu, and Rila Fukushima.
  • Scarlett Johansson doesn’t wear a black wig in the movie and it is her own hair, which was dyed black for the film.

Source: Useless Daily

So is Ghost in the Shell worth a watch or not?

Ghost in the Shell offers solid action and some great visuals. It’s worth a watch, if only for the sake of watching it. I myself wouldn’t watch it again but that’s only because I consider the previous animated installments into the Ghost in the Shell universe far superior to the live action adaption.

This one’s up in the air guys. It’s your choice. I don’t want to influence anyone’s opinion negatively. See it for yourself and then decide whether you think it’s good or bad or whether whitewashing had any impact on this film or if it’s even a relevant topic for discussion. I believe every film short of the worst crap in the world should at least deserve some appreciation and a view or two. Ghost in the Shell is no different. I watched it, didn’t like it and there it is.

Grand Moff Morris
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Grand Moff Morris

You know, this was supposed to be my day off. But nooooooo. Instead, you got me out here dragging your heavy ass through the burning desert, with your dreadlocks sticking out the back of my parachute.
Grand Moff Morris
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