PLOT- Set in Japan, in the not-too-distant future, Ghost in the Shell, is the story of Major (Scarlett Johansson), a woman who was in a devastating car accident that wrecked her body, but in which scientists at Hanka, were able to preserve her brain. In a world where technology has made it possible to have robotic enhancements to improve the human body, such as a robotic liver that can withstand alcohol abuse, Major is the first soul that scientists have been able to successfully preserve and place into an 100% robotic body.
Her new body makes her an ideal soldier and she is employed to capture dangerous criminals. During one of her missions, she receives information that all may not be what it seems, and that Hanka, who she visits on a regular basis for maintenance on her robotic body, might be up to something sinister. Major, and her colleagues, might be in danger.
Although her brain is functional, her short-term memory has mostly been wiped. Her past is unknown. She begins to receive glimpses of her past life, through fleeting memories, and soon she is certain that her accident was not an accident at all. Can she figure out her past? Who can she trust?
LIKE- I had zero expectations for Ghost in the Shell. I have not read the original manga or seen the Japanese anime. I like Johansson and I had read about the controversy regarding her casting, also the subsequent defense by those involved with the both film and the source material. We wanted to go to a movie mid-week and this was our best choice with regard to timing and against the other offerings.
Ghost in the Shell was entertaining. I liked the story-world with the cyber enhancements and cool holographic advertisements that fill the city. The story was mostly solid, with twists that I didn't anticipate. I did not anticipate the twist with the backstory of Major's character, her life before her new body. If anything, this could have been explored more. The concept of having a main character who has experienced a brain transplant is intriguing and Johansson does a great job at playing this type of character with all of the emotions involved. Ghost in the Shell is a full-force action film, with many dazzling elements. In particular, I liked the fight on the water, where Major's body material can virtually disappear: a great trick for attacking enemies. Johansson is a kick-ass action hero.
Although set in Japan, the cast is diverse, which is why I think it works in the favor of Johansson's casting. I understand the argument of this being white-washed and the general lack of diversity in Hollywood, especially in lead roles. I agree with this in many cases and its unfortunate that the changes are so slow. However, by virtue of Major being a robotic body, she can look like absolutely anything. I'm not sure if the character was made to look similar to the character in the original, however, again, it doesn't matter. Any person could have been cast in this role, there is no need for this character to be a specific look. That said, Johansson is a huge star, a well-regarded actress, and she has done action films. She seems like a clear choice for this big-budget movie. On the diversity in this film, it worked well, as it is set in a metropolis, which tend to be diverse, and it's in the future, which I hope would be a place where there is more diversity than which currently exists.
DISLIKE- The final action scene was ridiculous and unnecessary. We were laughing. The tone of the film is generally serious and there was no reason for such a campy ending.
RECOMMEND- Maybe. I'm not a big fan of action or sci-fi films, but Ghost in the Shell was good. It looked great on the big screen, but I would have enjoyed it as much as a rental. I've seen better films, but this was an entertaining way to spend a Wednesday evening. I never turn down the opportunity to head to the cinema!