When I was first introduced to the Ghost in the Shell franchise a little more than ten years ago, I would have never believed the franchise would grow to have a live action adaptation. I was always enthralled by the complex philosophical questions the series brought to viewers, and I have always admired how the manga, films, and anime series all became their own “stand alone” forms for the franchise (yes, the double-entendre was done on purpose).
When I first heard of a live action film in the works over a year ago, my heart initially sank. After seeing the failures of Dragon Ball Evolution (2009) and The Last Airbender (2010), I was fearful for my favorite anime to be next in the chain of embarrassment. I was further disappointed when hearing Scarlett Johansson was being cast as the Major. I have never been particularly impressed with her skills as an actress, and I was already fearful about a Ghost in the Shell live action film.
As more clips were released, I began to cautiously enjoy what I saw. I was further satisfied with the film once Mamoru Oshii (the director for the Ghost in the Shell 1995 film) announced that he was impressed with Scarlett Johansson’s progress and acting as the Major. I was still skeptical, and decided to remain cautious. Then the Super Bowl advertisement was released. I was again appalled. The story seemed incredibly butchered and “dumbed down” to a disappointing new low for the series.
It was not until two days after the initial release for the live-action until I decided to see this film. To be honest, it was the Ghost in the Shell subreddit that convinced me to give this film a chance. I am glad I decided to buy a ticket and force myself to go. For the first twenty minutes, the beautiful blending of CGI and props amazed me, yet I was uncomfortable with the portrayal of the Major. Without spoiling anything, I was weary and at first upset at the direction the film was going. It was about halfway through the film, everything fell into place. I went from hating this movie to loving quite a bit of it.
Sure, the story is “dumbed down,” but of course it would be for the Hollywood screen. I think they dumbed the story down too much, yet overall, I was satisfied by Scarlett Johansson’s acting as well as the imagery and connections between characters. I saw so many parallels to the first film, the second film (Innocence), and both Stand Alone Complex seasons. The angles paired with the story and graphics had me hooked. I was so impressed by the film, I immediately purchased tickets to see the film again in IMAX 3d.
My advice is this: If you are a fan, and you are hesitant to see this film for whatever reason, I urge you to at least give the film a chance once it is released on DVD. Many of my close friends, some of which live in Japan, Australia, and China, all thoroughly enjoyed this film. Most of us agreed that the film certainly does not deserve an “A,” but we were heavily satisfied with this live action, especially with how upset we have been in the past for other live action films.
Mamoru Oshii was pleased with the film, many in the Ghost in the Shell subreddit suggest seeing this film, and Japan seemed to love this adaptation. If anything, even if you end up disliking this film, it’s worth giving it a chance. Watch the film before passing judgment; I surely wish I had.
I suggest seeing this film in IMAX 3D or in General 3D. I am typically not one for 3D films, but Ghost in the Shell was amazing in 3D.