Ghost in the Shell – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Ghost in the Shell – 3/5 – Live-action adaptations are all the rage.  A lot of things entail to derive this kind of translation, but being true to the tale is something that matters in the end.  Ghost in the Shell is an adaptation of one of the more famous animes.  This is a film that lavishes in its visuals, but doesn’t provide much when it comes to story development.  Even when it becomes convoluted, Ghost in the Shell is still an awe-inspiring world to see on the big screen.

Premise:  In a futuristic world, one character must learn the truth of her past to understand why she is one of a kind.

In the lead role of Major is actress Scarlett Johansson.  Performing a role that many believe should have gone to someone different, Johansson does her best by creating a stern but methodical persona to this anime character.  From the look to her action scenes, you feel her presence throughout the story.  Being built on the ideal of a cybernetic trope, she strikes that perfect line of an intrinsic monotone built character.  Never embarking on erratic emotions to high or low, she delivers with an ‘even keel’ kind of attitude.  From her dialogue, you understand her contradictions of finding out what her true purpose is in this world.  With the rest of the cast, you can refer to film’s IMDb page.  In short, every ancillary and side character plays up the common tropes you would expect in any kind of sci-fi/thriller influenced film.  Beyond the obvious, they slightly stand up above average details through their visual draw.  No matter if it is the robotic like villain, the brutish sidekick or the armada of various other relevant characters, they bring attention to what you see then any kind of character depth through other kind of interactions.

The direction tackles this adaptation using the common ‘mystery of the past’ trope mixed in with sci-fi/thriller elements.  Putting aside the clichés and predictability of using these elements, what draws you to the film is the world building.  The surrounding atmosphere of a futuristic world pushes forward the story.  This infusion of worldly elements helps provide a bond to who the character is and her personal mission.  As you are introduced to this world (through a common backstory prologue), you are given a quick look at Major, Hanka Robotics and Section 9.  After the first encounter, you are quickly pushed down a linear path with the use of the ‘bread crumbs’ trope left for the main character to find.  The past begins to reveal itself through a mixture of flashbacks, wonky dialogue and forced exposition.  The tiring drama drags the film down, but you are eventually brought back when the direction focuses on the action set pieces or the world building.  The drawing of a shifting imagination keeps you going, even if the story wanes.  Once the film begins to reveal ‘truths’, you begin to see what makes Major the person she is.  From this point, the linearity of the plot starts to come unglued through unexplained circumstances and fragmented dialogue.  The pacing puts a real drag on purpose, timing and meaning to the characters that meet Major.  Even as you’re left in awe of plot holes and convolutedness; the world keeps you glued to the big screen.  Once you get to the final stretch, it turns into a mixture of obvious revelations and unnoticeable action set pieces.  Winding down to the end, the epilogue helps provide a dynamic of character reflection for Major.  Even if most of the film’s journey leaves you pondering, you still enjoy what you saw within this imaginative world.

No matter how uneven the story is, it is the visuals that keep you in delight.  From the city, the illuminating lights to the cybernetic infused human characters, it is all enthralling.  No matter if you’re in closed quarters or panoramic shots, you believe what you’re seeing is real.  The score is mute at best.

Ghost in the Shell is an adaptation that, even for a lot of mishaps, still had some positives.  Even for the shaky and predictable story, it is seeing a live rendition of this imaginative world that draws you in.  If you’re a fan of the anime, I say give it a chance.  For everyone else, it is worth checking as a matinee.

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