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MaddWolf
Movie Reviews, DVD Picks, Shenanigans

Major Upgrade

Major Upgrade

Ghost in the Shell

by George Wolf

For all the celebrated vision of the 1995 Japanese anime standard Ghost in the Shell, it resembled the inspirations of a teenage boy hopped up on the works of Phillip K. Dick and Hugh Hefner. There was warmed-over sci-fi pondering, and there was plenty of gratuitous boobage.

Director Rupert Sanders delivers the live action remake as a visually rich feast, bringing a welcome upgrade to both character and storytelling.

In a technically dizzying future where the line between human and machine is growing constantly thinner, Major (Scarlett Johansson) emerges as the first true “ghost in the shell”: human brain in a cyber body.

She’s viewed as the perfect weapon, but her mission to locate Kuze (Michael Pitt), a cyber-terrorist capable of hacking into human minds, leads to some revelations that will have Major questioning her loyalties.

The studio defense of Johansson’s casting amounts to a weak tap dance around the truth: she’s a big star who looks the part and they think she’ll combine butts with seats. While the “whitewash” criticism is fair, Johansson also brings a necessary shift away from Major as merely a ridiculous adolescent fantasy.

Johansson conveys well the clash of mind and machine at work in Major, while Pilou Asbaek (A War) steals scenes as Batou, Major’s macho partner who’s sporting a nifty new set of cyber eyeballs.

Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) and his visual team work wonders (the 3D version is worth the investment), re-creating various scenes from Mamoru Oshii’s original film with stunning new flourish. This future world pops with visual style in every corner while maintaining a cold, unforgiving and detached aesthetic that feels right.

Screenwriters Jamie Moss and William Wheeler do provide crisper dialogue and a more polished narrative than the original film, but it’s a tale still rooted in overwrought tropes and stale cliches. Ironically, with a moral so consumed by the preservation of humanity, Ghost in the Shell doesn’t give you much to think about.

This beautiful body needs more of a soul.

Verdict-3-0-Stars

Written by maddwolf

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