Ghost in the Shell: Film Review

Ghost in the Shell, which is based on a Japanese manga series, has been surrounded by whitewashing controversy and so I expected it to be rubbish, like most films mixed up in that kind of backlash, and I lost even more hope when reviews were banned from publication until very close to release. I don’t know if it’s cos of my low expectations or what, but I actually really enjoyed it.

Scarlett Johansson plays Major, who has a robotic body and a human brain and works in Section 9, a task force which tracks down criminals, hackers and terrorists. They are investigating the murders of leading scientists at Hanka Robotics, the company which made her. It seems like Hanka is the victim in the murder and hack attack but perhaps it’s not?

To say any more would be going into spoiler territory and it’s best enjoyed the less you know, although the plot isn’t exactly complex and original (I felt some Westworld parallels) and you can see the twists coming. The ending was also a little deflating because I was expecting an epic fight but there wasn’t really one. I was craving some hand-on-hand combat in the finale but it never came, which was a shame, because it meant the stunts and set pieces in the beginning excelled those throughout, which is the wrong way around – they should progressively get more amazing.

It takes a while to get going but it didn’t mind that so much because I was busy being amazed by the visuals. It is gorgeous, from the landscapes and costumes to the way the stunts are shot and I cannot fault the CGI one bit and this is one of those rare occasions where 3D is put to good use.

Johansson looks fabulous, pulls off incredible stunts and proves why she gets cast in these kick ass female parts (like Lucy and The Avenger films). However, her character is pretty cold and grumpy so it’s hard to connect with her and I just really hated her skin tight outfit. It looked liked she was naked – the outline of her boobs was very clear – and served no purpose besides being wank bank fodder.

She may be the biggest name in it but there are performances I liked more – Pilou Asbaek as her sidekick provided the cool and light-hearted moments, Michael Pitt brought the creepy, Juliette Binoche had the more emotional side of things covered and Takeshi Kitano, the head of section 9, has such an unexpected kick ass moment that I wanted to cheer afterwards.

So I loved the cast and the visuals but the plot, script and character development left a lot to be desired (I struggled to remember everyone’s names) but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. I loved looking at it, the stunts were jaw-dropping (although they peaked in the beginning), and I was highly entertained.

In cinemas Thursday 30th March 

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