Another Live Action remake of an animated classic. I don’t remember the original anime very well – I haven’t seen it since the late 90’s and anime wasn’t quite as popular as it is now. (That’s right – I liked it before it was cool. I was a movie hipster; how times have changed.) Surprising how this iteration brought it all back. I knew exactly what should happen in places and then it DID. Even in places I didn’t think would translate well from anime to Live Action. The level of detail and the fidelity to the source material was impressive, at least what the parts I remember. I’m going to compare this to the original a lot in this review. That’s the problem with the remakes – unless the original is outright trash then I need to see both for context.
I talk a lot about visuals because film is a visual medium. And there has been some amazing films out already this year. I raved about Beauty and the Beast but I have to say the visuals in Ghost in the Shell leave it in the dust. This one, Ghost in the Shell, may well be the most visually amazing movie of the year. And it’s not just one amazing thing (like a gothic castle) that they show over and over from different angles and different lighting. It’s new things, each filmed in a very different way. Again and again we are fed the most amazing and shocking visuals, especially at the beginning. It’s just a treat for the eyes. I loved the grim but busy cyber dystopia of Ghost in the Shell. The level of detail of this world and the care with which it’s presented is impressive. I am absolutely going to watch this again.
The character design and casting choices were great. Pilou Asbaek was the perfect Bateau. I liked Scarlett Johansson quite a lot too as the main character. Michael Pitt was a very effective Kuze. But the real treat was the more minor characters. I’ve loved Takeshi Kitano since Johnny Mnemonic (go ahead and judge me). And Juliette Binoche has always been wonderful though I had to look her up to see what I’ve seen her in (Blue and Chocolat, in case you’re wondering).
One advantage of this remake was that they cleaned up the plot. Maybe it was my short attention span or the subtitles or the consequences of the hedonistic lifestyle I led at the time, but in the original anime much of the time I was confused on exactly what was happening and why. This time though, the character’s motivations were understandable, their choices were clear and the plot was fully comprehensible. I do worry a little that things might have diverged a little plot-wise, but it seems unlikely.
So is Ghost in the Shell worth seeing? Yes, though I’m not sure it’s the same if you’re a fan of the original. I’m going to watch that again and then see if I agree with my own review. At the time of this writing it’s scored 42% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is pretty low given how much I liked it. I couldn’t research this much because reading the opinions of people who disagree with me causes me to uncontrollably roll my eyes and make fake jerking off motions. But I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy this movie, which is rare. I get the feeling I’m going to see more wonderful things each time that I previously missed.