The Two Reviews: Ghost in the Shell (2017 Rupert Sanders)

…sits nicely in the cyberpunk genre…’

Ghost in the Shell is a well-established franchise in comics, movies and TV. Just not as live action. The animated movie Ghost in the Shell (1995), based on the 1989 manga series, has been so influential in science fiction cinema that it has become an almost impossible task to make a live action movie version seem fresh. 2017’s Ghost in the Shell is visually spectacular, borrowing ideas from the source material and other more recent movies, but it all feels like something we’ve seen before. The story seems to be half prequel, half remake of the 1995 animated movie. It borrows some key scenes whole then alters or misses out others. Scarlett Johansson’s performance as Major Mira Killian is the real let-down. Half way between Robocop and Mr. Spock she seems physically awkward and disinterested in the world unfolding around her. It feels like an oversimplification of what should have been a complex and layered character. This is the main problem with the film. It is a decent enough action/crime movie and sits nicely in the cyberpunk genre but it is also a dumbing down of the themes and questions dealt with subtly by the non-live action versions of the same.
Reviewed by Alan Matthews – Rated 3/5 

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‘…not entirely for the bin…’

The sight of Scarlett Johansson jumping around Matrix-style in a skin-tight, skin-coloured shell suit may have had an enormous amount of people in an excited mess, but like many others, the flashpoint for me was the disappointment in Hollywood taking their grubby hands to this excellent manga franchise and utilising an American actor in the role of Major Kilian. Not that the character was exclusively meant to be Japanese but seriously? The idea for the character was formed by a Japanese artist, who explicitly set the story in a version of 21st Century Japan. Putting that contention to one side and maintaining a defiant stance of knowing that the anime film version is still vastly superior, I can, however, concede that this version is not entirely for the bin.

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Takeshi Kitano, the legend that is and will always be, plays the counter-terrorism chief with understated aplomb and Pilou Asbaek (a younger-looking Michael Shannon) provides some grit in his portrayal of Kilian’s sidekick. The visual imaginings of a bustling, neon-lit futuropolis (it’s a word okay!) are on a par with Blade Runner and The Fifth Element and there is a decent effort to recapture the thrilling complexity of the anime. Unfortunately the action and story never truly balances out and the scenes rarely extend beyond mediocrity. And with a vacant lead performance from Scarla’ (compare this to her awesome performances in Lucy and Under the Skin), this film falls expectantly flat.
Reviewed by JJ McDermott – Rated 2.5/5

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