Racial whitewashing or not, the sad fact is Ghost in the Shell (2017) is still a rather dull movie.
Major Mira Killian is the greatest achievement of experiments by Hanka Robotics in implanting human sentience into cybernetic bodies. While investigating different terrorist attacks on Hanka scientists, Mira begins to suspect the accomplishment came at a great cost. She might also not be whom she thinks she is.
By now, you must have read at least some of the whitewashing complaints hurled at Ghost in the Shell (2017). So I wouldn’t write about that.
Instead, I’d approach this snappy review from the viewpoint of someone who is only slightly familiar with the GITS story. And who went into the cinema looking forward to a CGI-drenched cyberpunk flick.
Verdict. This live-action version doesn’t entirely suck. But it is rather dreary.
A lot of that has to do with how the movie piles too many themes together without substantial focus or direction. Kind of like how hologram-layered Hong Kong comes across as odd and incongruous, rather than fascinating. Existentialism, heart of the original story, is hastily dictated as a matter of “what you do” and not “what you are born as.” (Note: Dictated, not realised) All of the characters also come across as superficial and unmemorable. To give an example, the story hints at a lot of curious dynamics between Batou and Mira. Yet nothing was explored throughout the whole movie. In the end, one can’t even decide whether Batou is a faithful sidekick, a reliable colleague, a suffering secret admirer, or a mixture of everything.
And then there’s the action. Which in all fairness is neither better nor worse than any action flick nowadays. The problem is, we have seen all those moves already. No less by the same actress wearing a similar skin-tight outfit. Outside of racial complaints, I feel casting Scarlett Johansson as a solemn Kusanagi Motoko is the biggest mistake of Ghost in the Shell (2017). There’s simply no freshness to the story. In several ways, the movie actually feels like a Black Widow backstory leading to the next Avengers movie.
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