We are no strangers to the fact that Hollywood helms bad adaptations when there aren’t great directors to back a good story. Ghost in the Shell movie is one of the latest victims to that. It goes without saying that the popular eponymous anime which we discovered in the year 1995 was a benchmark hard to beat. Even so was the manga that gave birth to that very idea. The truth is Ghost in the Shell isn’t utterly disappointing but it is simply mediocre. Something we did not expect this unique heroic sentient tale to be. It’s fine, to be honest, but not good enough.
Ghost in the Shell was destined to end up being a surefire misfire with all the controversies that it kept raking in the moment it went into production. The first splinter in the eye was Rupert Sanders of the Snow White and the Huntsman fame who had decided to helm it. Snow White was a disaster even though Rupert worked hard in order to make things work somehow. Weird enough he hasn’t improved his storytelling skills. Maybe he needs to hire good writers to heave his climaxes.
Scarlett Johansson as Mira Killian
Then people complaining about the usual whitewashing scene in Hollywood is one of those ongoing issues that we are yet to overcome. Even though the script demanded Asian faces, the studios decided to galvanize it with their own set of actors. Hollywood needs to understand this crucial fact – While you trying to rope in one enclave of the globe, you are losing potential fan audience from the other.
That being said I wouldn’t be surprised if Death Note fails to deliver as much as we expect of it. Apparently with the trailers out and everything it is evident that it has been whitewashed too.
Even though Scarlett Johansson didn’t seem like a good fit for the role of Mira, she takes everyone by surprise. To begin with, she dons a unique gait, bringing about a robotic look and feel to her character. The way she stands, the way she walks, it is all just very convincing. Even though it was hard to imagine her as the ghost in the shell, she proves that she was a befitting choice for the role proving every critic wrong in that area.
I would blame the writers of Ghost in the Shell movie for not giving her ample lines given her potential. Apparently, that’s an allusion I make at the impoverished screenplay of the story. The script demanded profundity at times, but everything gave an impression of being fabricated so much that it was hard to ‘connect’.
Plot of Ghost in the Shell Movie (Spoilers)
In a distant futuristic world where parts of human bodies can be mechanized, Hanka Robotics has taken over the robotics front. Headed by Cutter the CEO of Hanka, played by Peter Ferdinando, and operated by Dr. Ouelet played by Juliette Binoche a secret project of using human brain inside a resounding ‘shell’ is brought to fruition. The brain of Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson), a terrorist attack survivor was brought into usage since her body was damaged beyond recovery. She is at once put on the field to operate as a counter-terrorism operative by Cutter.
We cling to memories as if they define us, but they don’t. What we do is what defines us.
A year after she has quickly become a major and is a part of Section 9 working under Chief Daisuke Aramaki. As part of her mission to foil a terrorist attack, she heroically kills a mechanical geisha only to find it hacked by an entity named Kuze played by Michael Pitt. She ‘dives’, meaning goes into the stored memory of the dead robot, to discover the truth about Kuze which leads her to a night club. On reaching there with Batou (Pilou Asbaek) following a lead, they end up realizing it to be a trap. Batou loses his eyes in an explosion with Mira encountering major damages.
It is soon realized that Kuze is bent on killing people linked to one particular project named 2571. Realizing the next target of Kuze to be Dr. Ouelet, Mira and Batou (with a new pair of Hanka eyes) intercepts the invasion of two sanitation workers who are hacked by Kuze from a safe location. Tracking down the captive worker’s signal, they are able to track the original location of Kuze.
Mira is captured by Kuze who tells her that he was a failed project of Hanka (2571) and it was the same project that had created her. He frees her asking her to trust her memories before running away. On confronting Dr. Ouelet for answers, she gathers that there were 98 failed test subjects before her and that her memories were implanted. With Cutter keen on shutting Mira down, Dr. Ouelet decides to help her escape slipping an address in her palms. Cutter kills Dr. Ouelet fake advertising that it was Mira who had killed her that she had turned rogue.
Identity of Mira
Meanwhile, Mira visits the address Dr. Ouelet had passed on to her, to find her true identity (Mokoto) and her actual mother living there. On her way out she calls Aramaki to tell her about Cutter, which Aramaki lets Cutter listen to. With orders to kill Mira, Cutter sends his men to kill Aramaki and his men after realizing them going voluntarily in her favour. But the Section 9 team are already a step ahead of him. They retract killing their assassins.
Mira reaches the spot where Mokoto was last taken away from by Hanka with the help of her glitches, where she meets Kuze once again. They both try to recall their time together there as anti-augmentation revolutionists. Just then Cutter attacks them with a spider tank killing Kuze, and fatally injuring Mira who rips the tank’s motor losing her arm in the process. She gives her consent to kill Cutter to Aramaki who then executes him.
Reunited at last with her mother, Mokoto continues to work for Section 9. The curtain falls dropping one of the most cliched dialogues you will ever come across in a movie.
You can order Ghost in the Shell Movie here:
Ghost in the Shell Movie fails on many occasions to create awe-inspiring moments. You could blame the improper fictitious setup for that. Maybe we have seen a lot of sci-fi futuristic stories before, and that’s why in times like today, things fail to kind of pop our eyes. With the vacuous storytelling style that Rupert Sanders uses there is nothing solid in the movie that manages to blow our hats off. Even the final culminating point shoehorned with a Spider Tank doesn’t feel like a Boss fight.
GITS movie also doesn’t retain the gravitas of a futuristic tale. If you put it against the likes of Blade Runner, you would realize how many times this movie fails to deliver what we expected it to deliver. For a colossal concept of a human brain trapped inside a mechanical armour, a lot of things feel left out. You should really watch Metallo cringe and croon for not being able to touch and feel, if you want to see how it’s done.
Also in Ghost of the Shell movie, there was no explanation whatsoever about anything. It takes the audience for granted to have watched the animated movie or read the comic beforehand, assuming that bringing us to up to speed with what’s what would be a waste of time.
One of those supposedly frantic moments of Kuze meeting Mira for the first time, to tell her about the project takes away all the excitement owing to some poor writing. Kuze explaining her the what’s what doesn’t feel like a revelation at all. Then there is that weird CGI when she takes the ghost form, running around and jumping, climbing walls. That appears really out of place and obvious.
Then there is that weird CGI when she takes the ghost form, running around and jumping, climbing walls. That appears really out of place and quite obvious to be honest.
The Final Verdict
Ghost in the Shell movie starts off with a bang but lacks the flair of a movie with a proper route. The direction doesn’t resort to aggrandizing things Mira Killian could do. Neither does it portray what a big deal diving, cybernetic eyes, robotic ghost body, or Mira’s brain was. It is almost as if there was an innate glitch the movie carried all along, of not exploiting its theatrical quotient.
In a plot to find out her true identity, the protagonist fails to induce pathos. It is one of those paramount issues that was mightily overlooked. Even so, the movie is still quite enjoyable if you switch yourself off to its countless surrounding issues. You can watch it for Scarlett Johansson at least.
You can check out the trailer of Ghost in the Shell movie here: