Ghost In The Shell: was a little empty inside

I must admit, I’ve heard and seen a lot about the popular anime/manga that this latest blockbuster was adapted from, but I never really got to watching or reading much of it.

But, sucker for Hollywood hype and marketing that I am, the trailer for Ghost In The Shell featuring Scarlett Johansson in a pseudo-nude robot suit, taking on a four-legged killer Geisha robot, was enough to put this in my must-watch list for April.

#SPOILERS from this point

For those who aren’t familiar with the plot, it’s about an android mercenary installed with a human brain, a cyber synthetic life form equipped with high tech combat capabilities but additional human thought and emotion. As you’d expect, a rogue government agency intends to use her as a weapon to advance its own agenda, and things go awry when she starts discovering more of her human past, before she became an android. She runs from the agency, gets caught in multiple chase downs and skirmishes, is helped out by a couple old friends who are also fed up with the agency’s antics, and ultimately, they kill the bad guy, and she finally comes to terms between her human past and cyber-weaponesque future. Read the above paragraph and change all the ‘her’s to ‘he’s … does Robocop come to mind?

Hmm.. plot sounds familiar?

Yep, that kind of sums up the 106min film in one paragraph. There really wasn’t much else to it, which is probably why Rotten Tomatoes called the film “visually compelling but tone deaf”.

I know they were all trying to act like robots/mechanically enhanced beings, but the lack of emotion by almost everyone in the film, made it difficult for us to care much about what ever happened next. The protagonist played by ScarJo, says in a scene, that she felt ‘disconnected’ from the world and the people around her. That might be an apt description of how the audience felt about the film. 

ScarJo was beautiful and captivating as usual, even as she constantly gets casted in these emotionless, robotic or alien type roles (Lucy, Under The Skin), and they did a great job of making Hong Kong look like a futuristic, hologram-infested Japan. But other than the visuals, perhaps more should have been put into building the characters, who were pretty much an ensemble of the oldest cliches out there. ‘Buddy’ cop partner who’s always got your back and will side with you in turning against the agency? Check. Old mentor who’s always strict and child but actually really cares about you? Check. Prototypical villain who constantly talks too much when he should just pull the trigger? You get the picture.  

The relationships between characters were also hardly given any screen time. The embrace between Major and her human mother at the end can only be described as hollow and deeply unsatisfying, given that they had probably a total of 5 minutes of screen time or interaction together. 

Probably the most interesting character in the film, Kuze/Hideo, was almost completely ignored. They could have gotten the audience to care a lot more, if only they’d look a little deeper into the history or relationship between Motoko and Hideo before they were abducted to become robot experiments. Were they lovers? Best mates? What exactly happened to Kuze after he was turned into an android and how did he escape and build his own network of human minds? We’ll never know.

In the end, while the movie was beautifully produced with great visuals, I walked out the hall feeling as hollow as the film was. No sense of joy, excitement, surprise or curiosity. 

#moviereview #Scarlettjohansson #ghostintheshell