The strong visuals of Ghost in the Shell have been part of the Japanese/Anime culture for nearly 30 years. Besides being a graphic novel, there was an animated motion picture titled The Ghost in the Shell that was released in 1995 and spawned a total of four films. Ten years ago, Steven Spielberg acquired the rights to produce a live-action version. Last weekend, Ghost in the Shell opened to a lackluster box office that may cost some Paramount Studio executives their jobs.
First off, it is not a bad movie. The film opens with Major Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson) being assembled on a laboratory table. Mira’s body is a victim of a terrorist attack, but her brain is left intact and inserted into an android shell.
Much like Blade Runner, this Ghost in the Shell features a series of investigations and action sequences as Mira seeks to uncover bad guys. The pursuit involves multiple betrayals with Mira questioning her own identification as a cyborg.
The major flaw with the film is the lack of original story. Besides the previous mentioned Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell lifts plot ideas from Avatar, Virtuosity and Innerspace. It feels more like an outline than letting a fresh story unfold.
The film does shine with visual effects. Director Rupert Sanders lets his camera linger on giant hologram figures in the big city. The figures are eclectic and their brief appearances are more interesting than some of the cardboard characters that are used to move the plot forward. While Johansson does shine, we’ve seen her in enough movies of this ilk: Lucy, Her and the Marvel movies.
So Ghost in the Shell is no Pollock or The Last Word, or Kong: Skull Island, for that matter. I wish that The Zookeeper’s Wife or The Case for Christ opened a week sooner.