I’ve got a new film review just for you guys! Ok, so it’s not exactly a new film, but it is one that is mostly talked about in the anime/Japanese/Asian community. It’s also been criticised for its casting choices, mostly because it was a rather difficult choice to swallow. There’ve been many memes connected with the film, and frankly, I’m rather impressed by some of them, and in all honesty, after watching this film, I’m interested in watching the actual anime series.
If you’ve guessed the film, you’re right. I’m talking about…
Ghost In The Shell
For those of you who don’t know, what it’s about, read on and I’ll explain.
March 30 2017
What’s The Film About:
It’s set in a futuristic Japan, where humans are practically no longer humans. Many people have chosen to “upgrade” themselves using cyber technology to upload, download and transform their human bodies to become something much more. Major is the first humanoid robot, operated by the mind of an unknown woman. She works with Sector 9, a branch of the government, aimed to root out any troublemakers that attempt to attack any of their affiliates. The Hanka Robotics company is the target of the attack, and Major and her team have to find out who’s attacking them and why.
As of the 11th April 2017, the total gross for the film comes to around $130 million. However, looking at the opening weekend sales, I’d say the film didn’t do as well as they’d hoped. The total came up to just a little over $18.5 million, and considering the production budget was $110 million, I’d say it was a box office failure. Considering the fact, it took a lot of criticism over the casting choices, I’d say it was to be expected.
In all honest, I’ve forgotten most of the film’s storyline, and it’s only been a couple of days. What I do remember of it, though, is the fact that a young woman was sent to a hospital looking facility, and was forced to be the subject of an experiment, that combined both her brain and the body of a robot. Essentially, she is the “ghost in the shell”.
I have to commend the graphics team though, the opening credits, where the robot and brain were being assembled, were top notch. It reminded me of all those anime, and CGI pictures I scroll through on DeviantArt. Of course, I wonder why it’s all done under water, and where the company managed to find such a large space for the project, but hey, it’s an anime and it’s in the future, so we’ll go with it for now.
After that, we’re plunged (get what I did there?) into the futuristic world of Japan, as Major and her team try to figure out who’s threatening the staff at Hanka Robotics, the very place where Major was made, and where the team get their upgrades. It’s an action-packed film, with a very anime-esque storyline. Trust me, I know my anime (since I grew up with it), and the fact that their enemy was someone who enjoyed the black hooded cloak is no hard hint to find.
In terms of the parallels, I can definitely see the shots that were inspired by the anime, like when Major bursts through the window, the bird’s eye wide shot as she’s being repaired, the way Major hangs from the wires in that basement (if you watch it, you’ll understand). It’s all there, and if you close enough, you can find the smaller nuances that make up the anime. Like in the close ups of Major’s face, the reveal of Batou’s new upgrades, or the melancholic pose gaze out the window, as she contemplates her life, and the meaning of it.
Now, I did say I couldn’t remember the whole thing, and that’s purely because of the action sequences of the movie. Don’t get me wrong, they were awesome at the time, and both Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, and even Takeshi Kitano, pull out some badass moves (partially thanks to the CGI team), but these action sequences are rather old. You get those seizure inducing battles in the dark, the roundhouse kicks that knock out a person, or those point blank gunshots in nearly every action film you find in Hollywood. While, yes, they’re also in anime, the truth is, the anime do a better job of representing the violence, with the fluid motion of their characters. With live-action films, you get a more clunky version, and it’s not as smooth as the cartoons.
It’s not just the action sequences that left the film lacking, in my opinion, it was also in the way they casted the movie. I’m not as bothered by Scarlett Johansson playing Major, as some other people, but it does still bother me. You see, in film, Major discovers something about her past, and that past includes Japanese characters, and it would have made much more sense if Major was Japanese, purely because of these characters. After all her name is Motoko, and her boss is Japanese, since he speaks it throughout the film. It would have made much more sense if she could communicate with him, in the same language.
Another thing, that just didn’t make the film that memorable, was the way in which the future was set. Again, don’t get me wrong, the bluish and greenish neon that represent a cyber Japan was a great touch, but it just looked so…CGI. Yes, it is CGI, but again, you get that in ALL Hollywood Sci-Fi films.
If my teenage brain serves me correctly, sometimes the future isn’t as clean and pristine as these movies suggest. Some anime have portrayed the future as being dirty and grungy, and sometimes they’ve used the steampunk genre to represent the future, or a mesh of the past and future. In all honesty, I would have liked to have seen the dirtier side of the future. It proves that it won’t be as utopian as we all think.
Overall the film was lacking, and perhaps it would have been better if they’d focused more on the story, than the action sequences, but hey, that’s my opinion. I suggest, if you watch the film, watch it with someone who knows the anime, you’d probably be lost if you don’t. In all, the only saving grace I think this film has is the opening credits, and I think it’s safe to say, I’d like to see more like it, even if the film isn’t based on the anime, at least you have something that looks rather artistic and, to be honest, Hollywood is lacking in that department.
So, what do you guys think? Did you watch the film yet? What did you think about it? Were there parts of the film you didn’t like? How did it differ or not differ from the anime? Leave your tips in the jar below, and I’ll see you soon!
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