The title Ghost in the Shell is actually very fitting. What may appear gorgeous and innovative on the outside, is actually a lifeless, dull film on the inside.
To start on a more positive note, the visuals and the cinematography in this film are fantastic. There are some shots that are simply gorgeous and they manage to recapture many of the iconic images from the original 1995 film. The same goes with the score, that is very reminiscent of the original. Though it may seem familiar visually, they really expand on the world building from the original film and actually improve upon it in terms of scope. Yes, while it may look and sound pretty, it is anything but.
The film makes you question how far into the future we’re in, since there doesn’t seem to be many Japanese people in Japan. We get everything that comes with the Japanese culture, just not many Japanese people. Which leads us into one of the biggest problems of the film: Scarlett Johansson as the Major. The whitewashing of the Major was huge, ugly mess, as Johansson is never believable in the film and to try to make her look believable, they actually tried to make Johansson’s eyes look “Asian.” Easily the most offensive thing in this film and it is only visible in one scene, but when you see it, you can’t help but wonder what exactly the people behind this film were thinking.
Now aside from being racist, this is an actual boring film. The dialogue wasn’t captivating, the action scenes weren’t anything breathtaking, and when comparing to the original 1995 film, they really dumb downed the plot. Instead of showing us a more philosophical film involving our evolution, we got a story about a person trying to find their identities. For a story about the human soul, you would think the film would have one.
They hint at a more philosophical route in one scene, but it kind of just ends and it’s never mentioned again. There are a number of things this film could’ve done to add to the original story. The deconstruction of capitalism and how Americans have come and taken over things, like in history, could’ve been a new, interesting take. But nope. We get a very by the numbers and predictable film.
We also have 2 villains in this film. We realize the first one isn’t actually a villain but a person from the Major’s past and when it seems like it may take a more cerebral route, it doesn’t and we get tiny bits of a romance instead which leads nowhere. Then we have the second villain disguised as the good guys and it’s this evil corporation that made the Major; they try to kill the Major since she’s found out too much about her past and since it’s a cliche plot, you can guess what happens afterwards.
The structure and tone is fine and it’s a pretty film to look at, but when you’re trying to be immersed in the story, you can’t help but grow bored. They offer nothing new to the source material and it’s actually a disservice to the original.