Ghost in the Shell
Length: 107 minutes / 1.78 hours
Having only seen the original Ghost in the Shell (1995) film (and its 2008 remake), and not having read the manga on which it was based, most of my comparisons of the 2017 live-action adaptation are from the anime film adaptations that came before it. For its time, the original Ghost in the Shell movie was revolutionary. Along with similarly violent anime films like Akira (1988), Ghost in the Shell showed the world that animation wasn’t just for kids. The adult and more psychological aspects of these films are what helped set them apart as some of the groundbreaking films in the anime genre.
Regarding the live-action remake, I think it honestly took too long to get here. The concepts of cybernetically enhanced humans are surprisingly close to realized technology today. Given that these ideas seemed quite futuristic in the early 1990’s, the fact that they are plausible within the next couple of decades (if not years) reduces the film’s impact in regards to the moral and ethical dilemmas when it comes to combining humans and machines. Furthermore, given that the original film heavily inspired The Matrix (1999), a live-action version seems derivative of the Wachowski’s film that came out more than 15 years prior.
I will admit that the visuals in this live-action version were quite amazing, but so often I found myself just re-watching the same scenes that were in the animated film, but with human actors instead. This is also not to mention that the plot drags in places and the action is occasionally not that exciting. I think the Scarlett Johansson whitewashing controversy was mostly from people who had never seen the original since this film seemed to have a lot of content that wouldn’t make sense to people who weren’t already familiar with the franchise. Consequently, it was a little odd to make the story semi-origin based instead of just exploring new ideas within the canon.
A “safe” and boring version of the revolutionary anime film that came before it, I give Ghost in the Shell 2.5 stars out of 5.