Posted Mar 30 2017

Ghost In The Shell - This Movie Does Not Rock

Dir: Rupert Sanders

Starring Scarlett Johansson, Juliette Binoche, "Beat" Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt

Just so you know – the “shell” is the robotic body that houses the “ghost,” which is basically a human brain/soul/life force - call it what you will. Scarlett Johansson – everyone’s go-to sci fi girl these days – is just such a cyborg, having apparently lost her body in a terrorist boat sinking, her brain is alive and well and living in a synthetic body that looks like it has jumped out of a 14 year old boy’s wet dream. She’s now the Major, a lethal, sometimes invisible (never really explained) super police type, who likes to enter crime scenes by falling off the roof of very tall buildings in slo-mo (no, never really explained either.)

But as the Major progresses through her new life, she can’t help but recall feelings from her previous existence, and slowly comes to realise that what she has been told may not be the truth. Yes, we’re in Robocop territory here – only without the wit and insight. Indeed, for a movie that follows the now overly familiar trope of the synthetic struggling with its feeling of sentience (even Westworld has been getting in on that action in recent months, not to forget Humans also) this remake of the classic Japanese anime lacks exactly what its central character is in search of  - a heart, some degree of soul. In the hands of director Sanders, this Ghost is a remarkably chilly beast. 

You can praise it visually, with its gloriously realised future vision of some semi-dystopian pan-Pacific city (no, not explained where we are either) but as well realised as the visuals are, the very first thought you may well find yourself having will be along the lines of “God, hasn’t everyone been stealing from Blade Runner for the last thirty years?” And when that’s flicked through your noggin, you might then think how Terry Gilliam managed to harness more or less the same design in The Zero Theorem for a fraction of the budget. And then, when you find yourself visually bored by the film’s overwhelmingly monotonous grey palette, you might ask – Jesus, is the future going to be this grim? And dull.

Johansson has proved herself time and again in this milieu, but here she is sorely under valued. Luc Besson knew how to make use of her as some sort of other worldly being in the deliciously bonkers Lucy. Spike Jones only had her voice to work with in Her and did the same. Here, her director really just seems to want to stare at her tits. And in a thoroughly non-humorous way.

This movie is bleak. In all the wrong ways. A huge disappointment.


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