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Review Ghost in the Shell (2017): Representation of everything that is wrong with Hollywood!

genre: action, adventure, science fiction

As long as I can remember I have been a huge film fan. That passion has never wavered. My patience and tolerance has. Despite what people may believe I want films to succeed and do well. But artistically and creatively speaking. The money aspect of films only matters to me if it could mean that good works aren't getting the respect and recognition they deserve. For a long time now Hollywood has been adapting, remaking and rebooting films because apparently they can't be bothered to put in the work to be original. Which in itself is not something I find that bothersome. As long as they do justice to the original works or at least attempt to add something unique or fresh to give you an equally or better viewing experience. Unfortunately the majority of these adaptations, remakes and reboots have been done so poorly that it has become obvious that Hollywood doesn't really care about being creative and original any more. It's all about the big bucks. And I know you might be thinking they always were. That's true but at the same time they wanted to give you a good product. Now they don't even try. This live action Ghost in the Shell is a prime example of everything that is wrong with this approach.

Is Ghost in the Shell that bad? That is the thing. Hollywood knows very well in order to draw in crowds they do have to deliver some things that would cost them dearly. So some elements of the film do exactly that. The visuals are the first thing you will notice and do make a good impression. Scarlett Johansson is the second element that could make you overlook the many flaws of this film. But if you are critical as me she also is one of the reasons Ghost in the Shell doesn't work. Her approach to Major goes against the whole principle of being a ghost in a shell. She constantly acts like there is something wrong with her. Granted for the most part that is because the script tells her to. Since we don't have a reference who she was before being a ghost in another body we can't really compare. In the original anime this was never an issue because Major Motoko knows exactly who she is and what she is about. That never was an issue. The questions she had were more of philosophical and deeper nature. In a way she asked things that have ramifications for  all human beings. In this film she is reduced to a plot element in a predictable and generic action thriller. Even without knowing the source material it's quite obvious what's going on. If the trailer already didn't make it clear the opening scene surely will. It is astonishing how little respect the film makers have for it's audience since they never leave things open for you to ponder on. It's the exact opposite of the animated movie. 

I don't want to go into the whole whitewashing controversy since I don't think I can add something new on the topic but to completely deny that this is not applied to this film is to deny truth. Especially considering the fact that one of the plot elements directly points it out. But what is even more insulting that the film makers think they can get away with this done to death "who was I" plot. Because that is all the film has going for itself. We don't learn that much about the world and it's people. The visuals are just window dressing and nothing more. Another example is how they never explain how for example Major and rest of the team who speak English can communicate with Japanese speaking "Beat" Takeshi Kitano as Aramaki. Do they know Japanese as well? If so then why aren't they responding in Japanese? Or do they use some kind of built in translator program or chip? In a world where people are enhanced that would make sense. That kind of detail is important since it tells you more about the world they live in. 

People expecting good action also will be disappointed. The best scenes are already shown to you in the trailer. I never expected Ghost in the Shell to intellectually challenge me. However I had hoped it would at least give me some exciting action. There were like two or three scenes I liked because they connected to me emotionally. But those few moments were not enough to make me forgive how boring the film was. None of the dialogues are compelling or interesting. There isn't a single quote or sequence that is particularly memorable since they never tried to. Director Rupert Sanders could very well be an adequate and by the numbers director but that right there is the problem. For this kind of project you need someone who is more than that. Someone who dares to take risks and has a vision of his own. 

So back to the question. Is Ghost in the Shell that bad? If you aren't familiar with the source material and you aren't too critical then it's very likely you will be able to enjoy this. But even then it will be a very forgettable and boring viewing experience. If you do know the source material then you will have a hard time since this film contradicts the essentials and spirit of the original every step of the way. Something I could have lived with had they at least offered me something more than just the average and typical action thriller shenanigans.  Do yourself a favour and watch the original instead. You will get so much more from it. 

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