Ghost In The Shell (2017): Style vs. Substance

Ghost In The Shell is a 2017 sci-fi action film directed by Rupert Sanders, written by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger based on Ghost In The Shell by Masamune Shirow and stars Scarlett Johansson, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbaek, Chin Han, Juliette Binoche and Takeshi Kitano. The film chronicles an except in the life of one Major Mira Killian when the section she works for comes under attack by an unknown hacker.


I will refrain from making any observations comparing this to the original anime film until the end of this essay.

Ghost In The Shell is a gorgeous film. If there is one positive I’ll come out with after watching this film, it is that this is a fantastically beautiful film. When I saw the world that was designed for the purpose of making this film look special, all I said to myself was “I want to go to there”. Every shot is so well composed, the effects are seamless and the 3D actually made the viewing experience brilliant. Kitano from Battle Royale is in this movie and he is just the best part of the whole film for me. That being said, the film as a whole, its characters, its story, its score, however, do not match the film’s visual brilliance.


My problems with the film lie with its internal logic, basic story, and dialogues. The film fails a logic test because I feel like it does not know what it wants to be. Without spoiling the story, the film has a moral to dish out to the audience but if one was to take that moral on face value, one can quickly realize that the film itself does not practice what it preaches. It was extremely grating when the final line of the film comes across and I was dumbstruck by how inappropriate it was.

Then we come to the film’s plot/story. The synopsis I’ve put up above does not do justice to how unfocused the plot is. The film deals with 2 main plots and a series of forgettable subplots. My longstanding gripe with filmmaking like this continues as the film has no focus and the heady themes it wants to deal with getting no time to be fleshed out. Scarlett Johansson’s uncharacteristically wooden acting does not help the cause here. There is something overtly weird about her performance. The way she talks walks, moves etc., all of it feels very off. She can be as “naked” as she wants, but this is no Under The Skin to keep me riveted throughout.

The dialogues and line readings are just downright ludicrous. “Earn that paycheck” (thank you, Cinemasins) dialogues are scattered all across the film. The lines come off as subtle as a gunshot in an empty alleyway. The writers may have felt that the audience were too thick to understand all the themes that they were going for.

This film is just a rehashed Bourne story with Scarlett Johansson and sci-fi added to it. Now that line is a better synopsis of this movie.


Now for those observations. SPOILER ALERT

  1. Guys if you wanted her to be Major Kusunagi anyway, why even have this nonsense story. Just begin with her being Major Kusunagi and not this Killian malarky and make an out and out remake of the original anime.
  2. Stories about identity can be more than just figuring out one’s past.
  3. Why won’t anyone use that iconic score until the end credits?
  4. If one’s brain is active in a body which is a machine, why would the person stop feeling stuff? The person can see, hear, touch, taste etc. All of that stuff is going to the person’s actual human brain. So why don’t feelings happen again? Can someone explain this to me?

There are many more of these but anyone who reads this gets the point already. Me, I’m just disappointed. So much wasted potential.

OVERALL SCORE – 1.75-stars


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