See the trailer for Ghost In The Shell

Based on the manga series by Masumune Shirow as well as Mamoru Oshii's beloved 1995 Japanimation, this version of "Ghost in the Shell" generated loads of controversy before it generated dollar one at the box office, due to the casting of Scarlett Johansson as the title character, who of course was Japanese in the source materials. If you're anxious you may forget the name of the movie you're watching, the writers have been kind enough to use the words "ghost" and "shell" about 300 times a piece throughout the script. But it's the supporting performances from the notably worldwide cast that stand out - particularly Kitano, Batou, Pitt and Juliette Binoche, who plays the scientist who created the Major.

"Even though Ghost in the Shell does things well-its stylized take on the original's sci-fi, its often well-choreographed action, its exciting pace-it doesn't accomplish the main thing it intends to".

But director Rupert Sanders and screenwriters Jamie Moss and William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger don't do her any favors.

When the comic first appeared, some of these issues were cutting edge but they have been so thoroughly hashed out in so many movies (and in real life) that most of it is as outdated as a VHS video of "WarGames". And Major has a partner, Batou (Pilou Asbæk).

The city, which is never named, but is clearly some futuristic version of Tokyo, is filled with projected images of athletes and shaman.

But we couldn't get confused if we wanted to. Sanders and his movie aren't too clear on whether this is meant to be sort of ironic commentary - that this is what the studio behind this very film did by appropriating a Japanese story and presenting it with a Caucasian face. Juliette Binoche does a nice job with the role of the doctor, who sees Major like a daughter, one she withholds critical information from. The chase in its narrative particulars is mostly a bore, but at least it's often visually and sonically mesmerizing.

It was maybe a misguided marketing move for "Ghost in the Shell" to create a meme generator. Meanwhile, Clint Mansell's throbbing score makes a great rhythmic correlative to the grim majesty of this world. The animated film built upon the techno noir squalor of "Blade Runner" and added more rain. Which brings us to the one thing that is new, and - given the aforementioned controversy - rather surprising about this latest film. It is eerie and I loved the way the skyline was both dark and brightly colored at the same time.There are also many shots from the anime which are recreated, like Major diving off of the skyscraper in the opening scene. "The name "Motoko Kusanagi" and her current body are not her original name and body, so there is no basis for saying that an Asian actress must portray her".

In other words, yes, this film that's been accused of erasure actually turns out to be about erasure. However, a brush with the high tech terrorist, Kuze, sends Major on a mission to find out what really happened to her pre-manufactured shell. She's well suited to play the role, not a big shock considering Major is only a few degrees away from the Black Widow role she has played in the "Avengers" movies.

  • Salvatore Jensen