I went to see the new Ghost in the Shell movie earlier today. I’m not going to lie I wasn’t sure I would like it. First off I’m a big fan of the original movies and the series. Heck I’ve even tried cosplaying the main character Major Kusanagi. That said I wasn’t expecting a beat for beat remake of the original. They did have similarities, the rain scene, the geisha robot attack and the Major vs. Spider tank scene were all taken from the original anime movie. I know some people are wondering about the whole white washing issue, I hear you, but that’s a post for another day.
Before I go too much further I should say what the story is about. Major is a young woman who nearly dies in accident but is saved by a robotics company (Hannak Robotics.) They create a new body for her using sophisticated cyborg parts, luckily her brain is saved so she’s still able to have her old memories. But the same company also makes her take medicine that makes her forget those memories; instead reprogramming her to be a soldier for a government program called Section 9. She eventually meets someone like her who is going around attacking anyone involved with Hannak Robotics. What he tells her changes the way she sees herself and the world around her.
While the story is not new, it’s told decently. Scarlett Johansson gives a solid performance as the Major and Pilou Asabek is great as her friend and fellow solider Batou (pronounced Bot-toe if anyone’s wondering). Takeshi Katano was great as Aramaki. His performance was a good blend of sarcasm and cunning. While Peter Ferdandino gave a decent performance as the villain Cutter, there wasn’t a lot of depth to his character. Michael Pitt was good as Kuze. He was just mysterious enough to keep you guessing but not so bland as to have no personality. All the other minor characters gave good performances even though I would have liked to learn more about Togusa and other members of section 9.
I really loved the visuals of this movie. Seeing all the neon signs and the various 3D type images of Tokyo was amazing. The fight scenes were also great from the freaky robot geishas to the scene with Motoko fighting a suspect in the rain; everything popped and was very fluid.
I was worried the writing would be terrible based on some of the reviews I read but I was pleasantly surprised. Seeing the Major struggle with who and what she really was made me think about what it means to be human. By the end of the movie I found myself rooting for her and the rest of section 9. While Cutter wasn’t a great villain, the character of Kuze more than made up for it. His scenes with the Major kept me interested and engaged.
Overall I’d recommend this movie. The acting is pretty good, the writing was decent and the visuals were wonderful. If you’re looking for a faithful recreation you won’t find it here but the idea of what it means to be human and how that affects those around you remains intact.