Ghost in the Shell Part I: Preview

A quick guide to the ranking system:

8.5 – 10   : Loved it.
6.5 – 8   : Liked it.
4.5 – 6   : Worth a watch.
2.5 – 4   : Didn’t like it.
0.5 – 2   : Hated it.
0      : Watching paint dry.


Quick information:

Director: Rupert Sanders.
Length: 107 minutes.
Rating: 12A.
Mid-credits scene? No.
After-credits scene? No.

Part I: Preview+review


It is impossible to talk about the film Ghost in the Shell without mentioning the controversy that has surrounded the film. People have accused the movie of being yet another whitewashed big budget Hollywood adaptation – an issue that has been exasperated by the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Major, or the titular Ghost in the Shell. The new movie is adapted from a series of critically acclaimed anime movies, shows, and manga, all of which deal heavily with themes of humanity, gender, and technology, while set against the backdrop of a futuristic cyberpunk city.


However, according to Mamoru Oshii, who directed the first and second movies, these issues are, well, not issues. In an interview with IGN, Oshii said, “The name ‘Motoko Kusanagi’ (Major’s identity in the anime) and her current body are not her original name and body, so there is no basis for saying that an Asian actress must portray her. Even if her original body (presuming such a thing existed) were a Japanese one, that would still apply.”


He further endorsed Johansson’s casting, saying, “I believe having Scarlett play Motoko was the best possible casting for this movie. I can only sense a political motive from the people opposing it, and I believe artistic expression must be free from politics.” So, that's that taken care of.

Moving on: in this film, Major, also known as Mira Killian, is the first full body cyborg from Hanka Robotics; her human brain has been merged seamlessly into a mechanical shell, allowing her a range of incredible capabilities, including thermo-optic camouflage. As a result, she is an integral member in the anti-terrorist Section 9. After an attack on a Hanka Robotics executive, Major and her team attempt to find and stop Kuze (Michael Pitt), the terrorist responsible. However, along the way, she begins to experience glitches which bring her to question her very own creation. Pilou Asbæk, from HBO's Game of Thrones, plays Batou, Takeshi Kitano plays Chief Daisuke Aramaki, Ng Chin Han plays Togusa, Oscar-winning Juliette Binoche plays Dr. Ouelet, and Peter Ferdinando plays CEO of Hanka Robotics Cutter.


Here's a trailer:


The film partially deals with the implications of technology, and in an interview with Collider producer Avi Arad said, “The villains in the story are people that are abusing this brave new world. The movie certainly addresses this whole idea of in the future, if you think about everybody’s biggest fear around technology is about getting your identity stolen (which is really just your credit record) as apposed someone hacking your brain could happen here… So there are characters, both at a criminal level and a governmental level, who are abusing technology and doing scary things.”


Although it is absolutely gorgeous to look at, it fails to truly explore the philosophical questions posed in the original movies. Instead, it acts as a more generic action counterpart to the anime, choosing to only graze the tip of the proverbial iceberg. That being said, for fans of the original, there is a good deal of fan service in the form of carefully reproduced scenes. The movie itself spurred me on to watch the original 1995 film, so I will say that for its problems, it is a good entry level film for the rest of the series.


Overall, I think it’s worth watching for the visuals alone (especially in 3D, which works very well), but the story fails to elevate the rest of the film: 5.5/10

We’ll be showing Ghost in the Shell at 19:00 in 3D on the 6th and in 2D on the 8th of June; you can get tickets at the door from 18:45. Oh, and don’t forget to read part II afterwards for a more in-depth review with spoilers.


Thank you for reading! You can find more previews and reviews like this one here! If you have any questions, you can e-mail the cinema at cinema@imperial.ac.uk or me at tkc115@ic.ac.uk. Check out our Twitter and Facebook for more details, or if you don’t have Facebook or Twitter, the Imperial Cinema website’s got all your needs covered!

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