Ghost in the Shell

You already knew that, though. While there are still plenty of conversations to be had about the casting controversy surrounding the movie, Rupert Sanders' film is respectful and successful as an adaptation that strives to capture the same intellectual conversation about identity, ownership and consent that are presented in the source material. Unfortunately, it's actually worse than mere whitewashing. Sanders' vision is often arresting, but his movie contains too many concessions to modern action-movie conventions - the martial arts, the gun fights. Yes, numerous shots were clearly inspired by the Japanese film, but director Rupert Sanders and his team have translated those animated visuals into a lovingly detailed mix of live action and CGI. In this $110 million makeover, while the setting remains Asia, the character is now just called Major by friends and foes alike and she's played by the very non-Japanese Scarlett Johansson.

Major combines a human brain in a robot body. Giant advertising holograms tower over the unnamed port city where the action happens; the effect is like Blade Runner on steroids, and the film skirts dangerously close to creating sensory overload in its viewers. Since 1995 we've had The Matrix trilogy, Minority Report and even "Westworld" on television.

Major's brain-in-a-robot existence is only the most extreme example of future tech gone wild. (The original Japanese manga is from the '80s, after all.) His reasons turn out to be more complex than I should probably let on. That leaves less room for the philosophical musings of the original, and places greater emphasis on plot twists that aren't particularly shocking, many courtesy of cybernetic villain Kuze (Michael Pitt).

Ghost in the Shell comes out this Friday. Major's two closest relationships are with her partner - burly, dog-loving Batou (Pilou Asbæk) - and Ouelet (Juliette Binoche), Major's doctor, creator and mother figure.

Based on the much-loved manga and anime of the same name. this live-action, sci-fi adventure certainly look awesome.

With her chilly, monotonic reserve, Johansson is playing another version of a character that's become something of a go-to in recent years, in such intriguing speculative fantasies as "Under the Skin", "Lucy" and the rapidly evolving operating system in "Her". There are moments where that works, especially in the physicality of Johansson's walk and posture, but she never quite captures a believable balance.

It has to be said that "Ghost in the Shell" is ravishingly gorgeous. We've now arrived at the spoilery part of this review, so if you want to preserve the films' final reveal, you should back out now. So the filmmakers might have been able to claim "colorblindness" - except, of course, that the biggest roles have gone to white actors. It's so frustrating because there are interesting themes floating around Ghost in the Shell, about humanity, freedom from corporate exploitation, and what defines us - our memories or our actions?

It's only towards the end of the film that she begins to reclaim her past - but must still accept her existence as half-human, half-machine. Naturally, the anime features Japanese characters, and most of the actors in this film are Caucasian.

Visually the film is wonderful. Though it's mesmerizing to look at, Ghost in the Shell erases its ghost only to be left with a vapid, empty shell.

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