Ghost in the Shell

Having not watched either the 1995 anime or read the manga, I didn’t know what to expect from a film adaptation of the popular “Ghost in the Shell franchise. “In saying this, I recognize the unequivocal attachment that fans have for it, and will try to consider this during my review.

At the beginning of the movie there is a short text introduction that gives you context to what the movie will be about, namely that in the near future most of the world is “cyber enhanced” and the line between human and machine is fading. This theme poses a constant dilemma for the main character Major (played by Scarlett Johansson) who is the first human to be cyber-enhanced to near robot levels but still has a conscience.

Major is designed to be a killing machine with superhuman abilities that allows her to hunt down criminals and terrorists. Despite this, she is often weary of and conflicted with her cybernetic self as she doesn’t experience the same feelings and emotions that other humans do. Scarlett Johansson does a good portrayal of Major as a “near emotionless machine” that follows orders as if she is one.

The biggest realization I had while watching the movie was that everything from the premise to the climax of the movie closely mirrors another cyber-focused movie, “Robocop.” Major, like Robocop is saved from death by being transplanted into a cybernetic body that allows her to fight crime. Also like “Robocop” (spoilers) the enemy who you think is the enemy, isn’t the real enemy. Aside from those obvious similarities, there are some differences that “Ghost in the Shell” has that make it a much better and more intellectually stimulating film than “Robocop.”

There was a lot of negativity by fans surrounding the announcement of Scarlett Johansson as the main character since they felt that she would be used to bring “Ghost in the Shell” into the mainstream and ruin the original. I don’t believe this to be the case, since I enjoyed it just for the premise and story alone and that the live action portrayal is just as faithful based on what I have researched. That being said if you are going into this movie with a negative attitude, expect a negative outcome.

I enjoyed my time watching “Ghost in the Shell” and I am certainly going to check out the other adaptations of the franchise.

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