Monday, April 03, 2017

Ghost In The Shell

Year: 2017
Director: Rupert Sanders
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbaek, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Chin Han, Juliet Binoche

Plot: A cyborg soldier discovers her past is a lie after an encounter with a cyber criminal who is eliminating people working for the same company that made her.

Review: First, an admission: I know nothing of the original Ghost In The Shell anime that this film is based on. This is actually an advantage as I can judge this film with no bias, and I really don't care about the whole whitewashing issue (noting that this matter is brought up by Asian Americans and NOT Asians.)

In the near future, humans and machines have merged their existences more than ever. Humans want to be more enhanced and thus more cybernetic improvements are sought. Our story begins with a young woman called Major Mira Killian, an agent working for Section 9 of the Department Of Defence, who is a cyborg built and trained to be the perfect weapon. Her investigation into a high level assassination leads her to Kuze, a mysterious hacker who is killing off scientists working for the same company that made her. The deeper she digs, the more she realizes that Kuze is connected to her and what she has been led to believe all this time may have been fabricated.

From a visual standpoint, Ghost In The Shell is superb. It may very well be the most beautiful film I've seen all year. The sets, costumes, makeup and tech all look brilliant. The city looked like a marriage between Mega City One in Judge Dredd and Coruscant in the Star Wars prequels. I could look at this city all day. Credit goes to the production design, visual effects, costume and makeup team for creating such an astounding universe that manages to look gorgeous and cold at the same time.

Scarlett Johansson is of course, the best thing about the film, looking every bit the hero that the story requires, balancing innocence, confusion and toughness deftly. Her story as the Major is much like Kate Beckinsale's Selene in the first Underworld film, except here it has a bit more depth. Takeshi Kitano is also splendid as Aramaki, Major's boss, who is a complete badass, even when he's just talking. The man has undeniable presence indeed. Pilou Asbaek is great as Batou, Major's reliable partner and surrogate brother. Seasoned actress Juliet Binoche lends some good support as the scientist who created Major. Michael Pitt rounds up the cast as Kuze, managing to make an impression despite not getting much time to shine.

Ghost In The Shell does suffer from a few pacing issues, a somewhat predictable plot and the lack of a solid villain. But I really loved the film overall, which works as both an action film and a sci-fi one.

Verdict: Ignore the mixed opinions and whitewashing issues that clouded this film and just go see it for yourself. (8/10)

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