FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last night, I saw 2017’s “Ghost in the Shell,” which stars Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers , The Island), Pilou Asbaek (Lucy, A Hijacking), Takeshi Kitano (Fireworks, Kikujiro), Juliette Binoche (The English Patient, Godzilla ), Michael Pitt (Seven Psychopaths, The Dreamers), Chin Han (The Dark Knight, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and Peter Ferdinando (Starred Up, Hyena). It is directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman, Greatness Awaits [Short]), while the screenplay was written by Jamie Moss (Street Kings, Safe House 2), William Wheeler (Queen of Katwe, The Hoax), and Ehren Kruger (Transformers: Dark of the Moon, The Ring). Based on the comic of the same name, “Ghost in the Shell” is set in a futuristic world where the line between robots and humans is disappearing. The first android to have a human brain is created and under the new name of Major (Johansson), she leads missions to take down bad guys for a big company. One day, during an important task, Major follows a trail of clues that may lead her to a rude awakening.
I’ve never liked anime. There, I’ve said it. In fact, how many people do enjoy it? Sure, most of my friends from high school do, but that doesn’t make up the globe as a whole. The closest thing to anime I’ve ever taken fun in watching was “Avatar: the Last Airbender,” which I have yet to finish. I just don’t like the style; it’s weird, flamboyant, and extremely suggestive. At least that’s the vibe I’ve received from most of the anime that has been shown to me. Why is any of this information important? Well, in case you don’t know, this “Ghost in the Shell” film is banked off a highly acclaimed anime movie of the same name, and I have heard a ton about it; and by a ton, I mean primarily from Chris Stuckmann, a film critic. In almost any instance where he discusses anime, he brings up “Ghost in the Shell,” claiming it’s one of the best of all time in that genre. I never planned on watching the anime, though when the trailer released for this new incarnation, I will admit I was intrigued. I like Scarlett Johansson as an actress and the cinematography looked stunning, so why not give it a shot? Coming out of the screening at my home, I’ll say for the most part it was decent. I know that isn’t much of high praise, but it isn’t a terrible adjective either. There’s a lot going into this picture, many elements that can throw an audience off track or even bore them if need be. I’m not sure what the filmmakers were aiming at when crafting this. Did they make it for the fans or the people unaware of the story? Whatever the case may be, there was quite a bit to read into, yet not much at all. A confusing statement, I know, but hear me out. I felt like an outsider watching this. There’s a vast world to explore in this story and we center on a single android woman with the brain of a human. What unfolds isn’t given much depth, though the obstacles to get to conclusions are often rigorous and lengthy, attempting to cause twists and turns in the process. While it did take me a while to grasp the story at hand in terms of its plot developments, the twists themselves aren’t that difficult to predict. It’s rather simplistic in its plot structure, having seen it many times in other flicks. Who knows if “Ghost in the Shell” influenced the films I saw leading up to this. Either way, I wasn’t that surprised or thrilled in the experience that took place. That’s not to say it isn’t good, however. There are plenty of great aspects to take from this feature. For one, the cinematography is astounding. I could’ve done without the over-abundance of CGI, but what the filmmakers did worked for the story, and several shots were truly beautiful, both in landscape and action. Speaking of action, the combat sequences were pretty snazzy. Johansson proved herself once again to be a leading bada** and she did a great job in her role. Everyone else did fine; adequate for what the script demanded of them. There weren’t really any roles that blew me away, but none of them were terrible. I think the issues lied more so in the characters than that aspect. Lastly, the concept was interesting. It clearly pulled from “Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?” as “Blade Runner” did, and I saw a mixture of other sci-fis in there, but I thought the idea was cool nonetheless. I’m a sucker for the science fiction so it wasn’t too difficult to sway me. Getting into the cons, the main issue of “Ghost in the Shell” deals with its ability to tell a suspenseful and engaging story. Though the concept was good, the execution could’ve been handled a lot better. I found myself looking at my phone quite a bit throughout the picture, and every time I tried to focus on what unfolded on the screen, I grew bored often. It’s a dry script filled with many build-up sequences and hardly any pay-offs until the last twenty-five minutes. The flow took a toll as a consequence of this as it felt very slow. Finally, as I have mentioned earlier, the characters weren’t the best. Johansson’s figure was okay, but the other characters suffered. I didn’t care for really anyone no matter how hard the writers tried, and it eventually caused me to become bored as a result. It’s not that the characters were boring; they just were one-dimensional and offered almost no personality. So…I guess they were boring…yeah, my bad. I make mistakes in describing things, as do most people (and no, I won’t just go back and fix my description). “Ghost in the Shell” was less than what I expected, and I blame that on the writing. Everything else, between the cinematography and acting, was pretty solid, but the story took a severe toll on the experience. With such a good concept, you’d expect a great execution, but unfortunately it didn’t receive the best treatment. If you are interested in checking this one out, I wouldn’t deter you from getting it. You may like it. As for me, I found it…okay. FINAL SCORE: 71%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: