Ghost in the Shell Film Review

Talk about the live-action Ghost in the Shell film here

What do you think of the live-action film?

Good
2
22%
Okay
4
44%
Mediocre
2
22%
Bad
0
No votes
Terrible
1
11%
Never Again!
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 9

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Kojima
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Ghost in the Shell Film Review

Post by Kojima »

I heard about a whole laundry lists of criticisms involving the film and all of its flaws after the list and it gets long, so I wanna ask this one question in the forums: What do you think of this movie? The live action one?

I vote on the terrible option. Sorry, it's just that I am disappointed in the film overall. :(
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Post by Freitag »

I'm headed to see it in the next week or so with friends. Will vote when I do. Regardless of the film quality the buzz that has been raised about the franchise is fantastic. I've already had one friend ask me if I would recommend he buy the original film or not. Of course I said yes.

And if enough footage is out there, fans can cut together anything we want. We could even make a silent movie/animated manga version complete with those text cards silent movies used to have which would very much be in line with the original manga text blocks that Shirow used to explain what were then cutting edge ideas.
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Post by valkyriepm »

Saw it last night. I voted it was OK. Not great but not bad either. I prefer to express amy opinion when more of you have seen it so I won't spoil anything. :)

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Post by Kojima »

That's good, when you guys see it, even before you see the movie, probably best to do the former though, but still you can vote on the decisions in the poll and I'll try not spoil anything for you guys, but that's mainly if you haven't watched the movie yet.
"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves." -- Lao Tzu.
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Post by funknotik »

I thought it was passable for a hollywood interpretation of the film. With many of the coolest action sequences, the tank fight scene and the "shelling" sequence of the original 1995 film re enacted in exquisite detail. Visually the city, the cyberpunk feel of a japanese city in the future was captured pretty accurately. IN fact at times it felt more like the manga than the anime. There was visual poetry within the film and the pacing was interesting and didn't feel forced or choppy like BM Vs Superman or the DC films by Zack Snyder. So I think any fan will be pleased with the aesthetic representation of beloved characters on the big screen. The only bad part as far as visual story telling, I think was the choreography which seems slow and just uninteresting. The lack of tachikomas was also a missed opportunity to show off some AI and touch on the subject of machine learning.

As for the acting, I have to say it was somewhat mediocre. Johansen did an ok job of representing the major, she seemed stern and focused throughout and had the military presence you expect from the major. The problem was the poor acting from the supporting cast particularly "Dr Oulet," who is her handler and creator in the film. She seemed confused as to her motivation for being there.The dialogue and repeated references to having a "ghost" and a "shell," made it feel very campy and corny at times. I almost feel like most of the scenes involving dialogue could have been shortened to philosophical exchanges and guy ritchie style musical montage leading in to the next scene. There are also scenes in which the major awkwardly stares at someone or herself in an attempt to create some pathos from the viewer but it was really unnecessary and could have been removed entirely. It also misses the mark on the subjects of consciousness, transhumanism, mind body duality, and pretty much all the " meat" of the original film. Cyber security is also not really delved into in detail like in Mr Robot or the film black hat, I found this disappointing particularly because GITS got me into cyber security and hacking as a teenager. It's the reason I work in the field now and the reason I majored in computer science.

The sad part is the film received poor reviews prior to people watching it because of the whole "white washing" controversy which is off course known to be bullshit for fans of the source material. This will put off potential fans from getting into the series and possibly reading the manga and the four books, which is really tragic considering there is so much quality entertainment within the GITS franchise. Ultimately I think the film will be viewed as a cult classic and a staple of our time. We live in a time where hacking scandals are everywhere, the cyber security industry is growing and struggling to meet the quotas for government positions, and robotics and technology are really moving forward on track with "moore's law." I look at it with fondness because it reminds me of the series, the manga, and the films that made up my childhood and ultimately gave rise to my current personality! So overall I give it a 7/10 and I would recommend anyone with atleast a vague interest in the franchise give it a try.
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Post by GhostLine »

I still haven't watched the film...I ended up getting really ill, so I hope to see it soon. I'll def be adding my two cents soon.

In the meantime, here is what Hideo Kojima had to say about it:
http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interes ... ll/.114584
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Post by Jeff Georgeson »

**SPOILER AHEAD!!! Well, sort of ...**

funknotik wrote:The sad part is the film received poor reviews prior to people watching it because of the whole "white washing" controversy which is off course known to be bullshit for fans of the source material.
I couldn't disagree with you more on that point ... and I definitely qualify as a fan of the source material (having seen the original GitS film in the cinema in the mid-nineties, having read the manga about the same time, having created this site nearly 18 years ago, and having interviewed Kamiyama and Sakurai when SAC was about to come out). The issue of whitewashing is very important and is in no way "bullshit"--and the film's issues on this score are made worse by the lack of Asians in pretty much any role the film finds important, by the film's inane plot that seems to shove the issue in our face by subjugating the Japanese Motoko Kusanagi to the white Johansson body (which could have become an interesting exploration in itself, but the film avoided the very racial issues it kept bringing up; see Slate), and even by the marketing (such as the statue of Johansson holding the head of a Japanese-flag-faced geisha while standing on her body). It is for these reasons that I'm not even going to see the film, which pains me, but I'm not supporting Hollywood's destruction of the thoughtful, philosophical masterpiece that helped get me into AI programming and brought to the fore all the ethical issues therein.
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Post by Jeff Georgeson »

GhostLine wrote:I still haven't watched the film...I ended up getting really ill, so I hope to see it soon. I'll def be adding my two cents soon.
Hope you feel better!!
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Post by Freitag »

Watched it. Loved it.

Any whitewashing arguments that involve Mira or Kuze can go die in a fire.

I will say that if I'd not just watched Arise I'd have been less open to the premise. We need a spoiler tag or something here. I'll try white text color. Hilight to read.

This is essentially a new origin story for the Major. What is she here, maybe 15 years old?

I do not recall the origin story from the Manga or the original movies.
In SAC/2ndGig she was a survivor of a childhood plane crash with a military background before joining Section 9.
In Arise she was an in-utero survivor of a terrorist attack and everyone at that orphanage was pretty much handed over to the military. So having her be a run away is not terrible. I guess you can assume they did some programming to give her military training along with her fake memories.
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Post by moreorless »

First I'd like to say hi, the film got tme to dig out my DVD's of Oshii's two films for the first time in years and I might finally get around to watching more than a small amount of SOC(and perhaps the new anime as well) so I thought signing up for this place might be fun.

As far as the film itself goes I would say it is a little hard to be certain after one viewing, especially with all those elements of previous versions reused but generally I'm inclined to be positive.

Honestly I never really understood the fuss around the whitewashing issue, to me that always seemed like journalists without much knowledge of the series desperate to find something to be offended by for some easy column inches and attention. Aside from mass appeal Johansson always seemed like the obvious choice to me given that she's spent a lot of her career in similar kinds of roles(Lost in Translation, Under the Skin, Lucy), she might not always have great range but I'd say she's played those "emotionally disassociated angst" roles well and does here to.

I'd say whilst film doesn't operate on the same level of intelligence as Oshii's but I wouldn't say it was a typical Hollywood dumb blockbuster either which I feared. You are dealing with a bit more of a straight ahead story focused on the majors background but I think its well told and does ironically touch on the racial issue which it could have avoided.

I would say generally the Major/Kuze story is very well told and if the film has a few issues its more the material around that feeling a little underworked. The villain definitely feels a bit tacked on to me to the degree I suspect he might have been added late in the day. Batou I think ends up being well played but a bit underused and the same with Binoche's Dr. Ouelet, I think both could have done with the film running more like 2 hours.

It did have a bit more edge to it as well than I expected from a big non R(which it was never going to be costing 100 million) blockbuster. Obviously less blood than Oshii's films but I wouldn't say that was ever THAT important in GiTs where as I have always defended the nudity in his films as more than just titillation. The nude thermoptics I think always provided both a sense of the majors disassociation from her humanity and a sense of emotional vulnerability which I think this film has some of as well(as much as possible for a non R anyway). Equally the tank body ripping provided a very visceral climax to those themes so its nice to see that included as well even in a reworked form.

Despite being an origin story it did actually feel very self contained to me so the potential lack of sequels given its so so boxoffice doesn't seem much of a negative.
Last edited by moreorless on Wed May 24, 2017 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by GhostLine »

Welcome moreorless!!! Nice review....I still have yet to see it...soon hopefully.
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Post by moreorless »

I actually ended up seeing it for a second time today with another friend who wanted to watch it on the big screen before its gone and I did find it easier to digest on its own terms second time around rather than just looking out for bits of the various versions being reused. Knowing which elements were going to be focused on more and which not made things seem a little more even as well.

I would say again that I do think Johansson was very well cast indeed and carries much of the film in a way for example Keanu Reeves couldn't in the original Matrix(to be fair to him he's developed a bit more gravitas since) which does probably account for the supporting cast not getting as much attention.

Visually you could argue that in some respects we've seen similar kinds of work before(partly due to the influence of Oshii's films plus of course him being influenced by Blade Runner) and it doesn't I think have the impact of say the original Matrix yet there is a lot of variety here. The film doesn't limit itself to either Blade runner style night/smoke/lightbeams nore to Apple style clean modern designs plus indeed doesn't have the limited colour palette of the Matrix. That's helped a good deal by Weta as well I'd say who brought the same kind of variety to Jacksons Tolkien films.

Along with Rogue One and Logan as well I find it a refreshing change to have lsarge scale sci fi action that takes itself seriously rather than the endless metahumour of Abrams and Marvel deliberately undermining there settings. Not that I dislike all of those films and that style obviously does suit something like Guardians of the Galaxy well but I do find it self limiting.
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Post by GhostLine »

Well, I finally saw the film. Usually when I review a film, I try to stick to the piece itself...and not get into history or other influences...as I have been taught to do so in art appreciation. One tries to solely judge a work based on its own merits...or demerits. But this film, I find it difficult to not draw in the work of Oshii or from SAC as this film heavily draws from them.

In the case of Rupert Sanders' Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johanssen, I was impressed with the near-seamless special effects, both computer and physical. From the gaudy holographic adverts to the beautiful "Shelling sequence", this film's visuals won on many levels. However, the jellyfish in the Major's sea-dive scene looked obviously CG. A minor thing. The music, too, was well done.

If I hadn't seen the other incarnations, I probably would have enjoyed this film more, even though I found the story to be a little flat regardless and not as revelatory as perhaps intended. I felt that Kuze was neither as enigmatic nor mysterious, as he was easily found by Major. We already know Cutter is a jerk, so it's no surprise that Hanka would turn on Major. First and foremost, to me, GitS is a detective show, so I expected more of that, but it just seems like everything was handed to Mira and the only tension in the story was created from her being unable to color inside the lines.

I found Pilou Aesbek's Batou extremely likable, same with Togusa (although we could have seen more of him). I was happy that Batou was placed in his proper fatherly/ loyal puppy-dog role along with the Major. Beat Takeshi's Aramaki I enjoyed as well. As for Scarlett, I have no real complaints...I am just not a big fan of how her origin as well as her motivations were written...just didn't work well and helped make the film uninteresting in that regard.

One could spend a lot of time comparing this film to other works...and the homage is obvious, but "ain't nobody got time fo' dat!" Overall, I enjoyed the film for it's visuals, action, and interesting casting, but I felt it lacking in that things that were explained, need not be explained...and things that needed some added depth were just glossed-over. This is what Hollywood's version of GitS looks like.
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Post by Freitag »

GhostLine wrote:This is what Hollywood's version of GitS looks like.
Yeah, I let the glitz and the shinies distract me enough so that I really liked it. I agree that Hollywood is not known for thoughtful movies. The whole US video entertainment market is sort of dull. I like the concept behind the planning committees I see on almost all the anime shows. They have a story arc they are trying to achieve. Over here it's like Hollywood is trying to destroy the concept of a narrative. Characters are not allowed to develop. Situations aren't allowed to change.

I was really glad that Wonder Woman turned out to be the epic cinema that it was, I sort of see parallels between WW and this live action GitS. You take a young girl from one background and then throw them into a crucible and see if they emerge or get consumed. WW retained her idealism and innocence even in (or perhaps because of?) the face of war. With this year being the 100th anniversary of Passchendaele and her big reveal scene pretty much being set in that moment there was no better way for her to reveal both her abilities and her humanity. The path the Major took was a lot less generous (to others) but in her case it wasn't just that something of her creation was concealed from her, her creation involved something being taken from her.

There's another thing about stories. When you hear the same story retold for a new generation you learn as much about the audience and story tellers as you do about the characters. The parts that stay the same. The parts that change. The parts that while they are unchanged are (de)emphasized. This is now the fourth version of the story of Motoko and of Section 9 and while it's the same, it's also very different.
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Post by moreorless »

GhostLine wrote:First and foremost, to me, GitS is a detective show, so I expected more of that, but it just seems like everything was handed to Mira and the only tension in the story was created from her being unable to color inside the lines.
That is one obvious issue for fans of the franchise of course, that its focus shifts significantly between different telling's of the story. Oshii's films were I would say more concept/drama than detective focused and I think were clearly a much bigger influence on this film than the TV series which was drawn on more for material than style/tone.

Cutter to me did still seem like a relative weakness of the film, not because Peter Ferdinando gives a bad performance but simply because as mentioned above he does seem pretty one dimensional and obviously a badguy from the start.

A big issue for me I spose was expectation, from the start I assumed this film would be shifted towards a more conventional action blockbuster. Whilst its definitely working within that framework I did find it a pleasant surprise that there was also more ambition there visually and dramatically. I am reminded rather of Rogue One a few months previously, I felt that was a somewhat more successful film overall but both created very effective atmospheres and had an actress give a more subtle dramatic performance than we typically see in high budget blockbusters.

To some degree I think you could argue as well that Ghost was a rather unique chance to make this kind of film with a high budget. A lower budget R rated film playing to a more niche audience looking at similar themes is you could argue easier to get made without such a property attached, Ex Machina obviously comes to mind as indeed does Johansson herself in Under the Skin or Her.
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