Review: Ghost in the Shell channels Blade Runner and Matrix in enjoyable sci-fi tale

Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell - Credit: Archant

Based on the internationally acclaimed Japanese Manga and much loved anime, this live action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell arrived with a negative online buzz due in part to a whitewashing scandal that surrounded its casting.

For those unaware, controversy surrounded the casting of a white actress (Scarlet Johansson) in the lead role, and calls were made to replace her with an Asian actress.

People were also unhappy that the film was made at all, feeling that a live action version was unnecessary and the core values of the original would be lost in translation.

However, going into this screening with none of that baggage, having not read or watched the previous incarnations, I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.

Fears of a convoluted plot requiring prior knowledge of the source material proved unfounded, with British director Rupert Sanders producing an engaging sci-fi tale that delivers heart stopping action scenes while also exploring what makes us human.


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The focus of the film is Johansson’s Major, a cyborg with an implanted human brain working for a anti-terrorist organisation.

While hunting for the villainous Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt), she begins to experience flash backs which cause her to question her origin.

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Set to a pulsing electronic soundtrack from Clint Mansell and featuring spectacular CGI visuals, its sprawling techno-dystopia channels sci-fi blockbusters such as Blade Runner and the Matrix.

The ever reliable Johansson grounds things with a very human portrayal of the conflicted Major, and Juliet Binoche is also excellent as the motherly Dr. Ouelet – who provides the film’s most thoughtful moments.

The film’s critics will say it is not the classic it perhaps should have been, however, treated as a stand alone, this is an enjoyable sci-fi action flick that is well worth your money.

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