“Ghost in the Shell” is directed by Rupert Sanders and stars Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Juliette Binoche, and Michael Pitt. The film is based on the 1995 animated original of the same name, and is about a future in which humans and machines are becoming more incorporated into each other, which leads to the creation of Major, a cyber-enhanced soldier with a human brain, and she attempts to stop a very dangerous criminal who threatens to kill many of the people she works for.
I have not seen the 1995 original which I know is loved by many, so I was hoping that if I came in completely fresh to the material that I could really enjoy this new rendition of an animated classic. With that being said, none of the trailers really wowed me, and the casting of Scarlett Johansson in the lead has stirred some controversy, so I came in hopeful, but also holding my expectations relatively low.
This is a visually stunning film, with the futuristic setting allowing for some gorgeous special effects. The cinematography, done by Jess Hall, also has some gorgeous wide shots that make for some memorable moments of pure imagery. There are moments of bright, bold colors among the dark city that were absolutely breathtaking, and the visuals from this film are certainly my favorite aspect.
Of the characters, I found two supporting roles to be standouts, and those would be from Pilou Asbæk and Michael Pitt. Asbæk is great as Patou, bringing some real necessary dry humor and being the fullest of life of anyone in this film. Asbæk has the best chemistry with Scarlett Johansson of the entire cast, and his back and forth conversations with her made her character the much more intriguing. Pitt’s role was my favorite role of the movie, as I felt that his character brought the most entertaining and enthralling storylines to the film by quite a large margin. Pitt does a great job in the part, and his presence made the film significantly more watchable as it went on.
There are definitely some ideas that are pretty cool, all of which I assume are coming from the animated movie from 22 years ago. The concepts of humans enhancing themselves with robotic parts, as well as the idea of Johansson’s character as a whole is awesome on the surface, and these concepts made for a few plot points that really grabbed my attention.
The action scene shown in the trailers come in early on, and it is beautifully executed. Though I wished there were more of these, this scene was everything I could have hoped for. The action is well shot, the visuals are stunning, and Johansson gets free reign to be a legitimate action star.
As exciting and compelling as this film wants to be, it just simply is not. This was a painfully boring movie to sit through nearly from start to finish, with the lack of action sequences and the overly complicated storyline that never fully develops both contributing to this movie being excruciating for the entire runtime. For a movie that lasts only 107 minutes, it felt as if I was just getting out of “Schindler’s List” instead of a relatively short action flick.
Scarlett Johansson is absolutely lifeless in this film, and while I get her character should be somewhat robotic, she should not have been this soul-sucking to watch. Not one lick of charisma comes from Johansson from start to finish, and she brought nothing to the table that any other actress couldn’t have, specifically one of the proper race, and it just hurt to watch such a good actress in Johansson drag through the mud and be nearly unbearable to root for.
This movie really just collapses in on itself by the end, as there is no build up that makes much sense at all leading up to the final moments. Like I said, I have no background experience with this source material, so all of this should have felt fresh, but I found myself often confused about what was going on, as the plot does not develop well at all in the second half of the film.
All of this leads up to a conclusion that had no tension to it, as the end fight is up against an antagonist that I honestly couldn’t even name at this point. There is nothing here in the final moments that has the originality of the concept that this film is built on, and when the credits rolled, I was relieved that this film was over, as the longer it went on, the worse it got.
“Ghost in the Shell” has a great original idea, some stunning visuals, and a couple great supporting performances, but falters from a dry Scarlett Johansson performance in the lead, as well as a dry movie overall, as none of the concepts come through nearly as well as they should. This is one of the most boring movies I have seen this year, and it definitely shouldn’t have been, but “Ghost in the Shell” is missing the magic to make its story interesting.
What do you think of “Ghost in the Shell”? Comment below with your thoughts.