Friday, December 14, 2018 • Afternoon Edition • "The comic book industry's inflamed butthole."

Ghost in the Shell Review

Written by Zechs on Friday, March 31 2017 and posted in Features

Ghost in the Shell Review

A bit too simplistic, yet engrossing Hollywood take on the classic anime/manga/OVA/movies. Yeah-- they blended a lot of various forms of the property in this single film. It's a miracle by itself the movie can be more coherent than me at times.

With the ghosts of Hollywood past adapting Japanese manga/anime with horrible cinematic abominations and then all the controversies (aka Scarlett Johansson being cast in what would be typical of the main Japanese character in this Motoko Kusanagi) surrounding this particular entry. It's kind of hard going into Ghost in the Shell with a clear mind without these concerning problems. So I did.

The movie is an amazing visual feast on the eyes. The cyberpunk world this film lays out is an amazing one to behold. There's a lot to enjoy cinematically. Likewise, the performances are decent for the most part. Johansson does a fantastic job playing someone truly lost and trying to rediscover her humanity. Now, of course, I cannot help but confess I was a bit ticked off of her more American name, but once the film delves into the rabbit hole of her past, I was kind of surprised what we got. 

Likewise, Pilou Asbæk is good as Batou. My only complaint is the sort of choice they go having to explain how he gets his more recognizable look. The real scene-stealer is Takeshi Kitano as Chief Aramaki. There's a ton of good stuff that he has near the end portion of the film, that made it more enjoyable. 

Then there are the performances that are alright, just not much for them to chew on than what they've got. Michael Pitt as Kuze is alright. The problem with the character is basically he's a blender of three antagonists of the series (the Puppet Master in the 1995 original film, the Laughing Man, and Kuze from Standalone Complex anime series).

Because of that, the character becomes a little lost in the final act. Other than that, the other characters throughout the film are basically there or caricatures. Honestly, other than Togusa (Ng Chin Han) it was hard to tell the rest of Section 9 out save well the name drops. I get who was who, but they really barely get any moments to honestly shine save one lone scene of Saito doing what he does best. You know going into the film five minutes in, who'll be the main antagonist of the film. Then you're just waiting for the protagonists to just realize that fact too.

There in lies the main flaw with the film. It feels muted or gutted at times. As if Hollywood was terrified of taking that extra step because it was fearful the casual viewer wouldn't grasp the larger message of the movie and take that adult approach that the franchise in Japan is so darn famous. There really feels like a few scenes were cut, or gutted to make the message easier. That or scenes from the 1995 movie or Arise OVA put in to make it as little more than an homage than to fully drive the plot. 

In that regard, those who watched or read these various elements to the franchise might not truly enjoy it. We've seen or read this tale before. So there isn't really much to get out of other than seeing a softer tale told. That said, this is probably the first time, Hollywood sort of nailed this attempt, but did half heartily, because again. I guess they expect the normal human who watches this cannot comprehend the topics the film is supposed to touch on. It's a shame because it seems the director Rupert Sanders did his name best crafting a perfect world and has some great action set-pieces sprinkled throughout the movie. 

So, should you warrant a watch? I'd say yes. If you go in with the knowledge that this is yet another interpretation of the franchise, just a muted one. The parts that you enjoy it are there. The cinematic style. Some of the characters. But the film is flawed. Not heavily flawed as other Hollywood attempts at this genre that came before it. But if not? I get why the flaws are there on why some would hate this film. It is muted, it feels like something is missing. 

Maybe it's the PG-13 rating. Maybe it's the ease of good/evil in the film. Other versions of the franchise made it harder to discern some of the antagonists in this being just purely as evil in this, and that's why it made it so good. Kuze sort of works in the first two acts of the film, before floundering a bit because the one-dimensional jack-ass had to be the "final" antagonist. Even though it kind of makes me wonder, why Kuze had no real plan to get to him like he did everyone else. 

Ghost in the Shell is honestly quite literally that. There is something within the shell of the movie. But it is transparent. It is flawed. But it there. This isn't a bastardization or the usual trash fare that Hollywood usually churns out. This is probably the best they've done so far. The problem is it's good. It's enjoyable. But it just doesn't push those extra buttons or takes that extra step into being something more. Something to be more memorable. I just have that nagging feeling in a few more months we'll be getting an "uncut" version, not seen in theaters.  It deserves to be seen in theaters to fully get the visuals it shows off. The movie is worth your time if you got nothing to do, but kill a few minutes. If you're looking for a superior film that touches this subject? Go watch the original 1995 movie or Blade Runner: the defintive cut or whatever. This? This is just something that is all nice and pretty, but deep inside at the very end is just so damn hollow.


2.5 out of 5


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About the Author - Zechs

Zechs is the lord and master of The Toy Shed, Moment of the Week, and Durnkin Reveewz. He's also the official whuppin boy at the Outhouse. So he'll get stuck seeing stuff that no mere mortal should ever see. If there's any greater quality to Zechs, it's that he's an avid fan of comic book characters and would defend them to the bitter end against the companies that use them wrongly. He's also brutally honest. Zechs walks the lonely path in Chicagoland area.


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