Ghost in the Shell (Pre-Film) Thoughts

Ghost in the Shell’s Live-Action Release is Right Around the Corner

So I thought it might be a good time to let you all know what my thoughts on the upcoming film are, my expectations, and familiarity with the franchise. This isn’t a sponsored article, but I’d like to quickly thank Crunchyroll for providing me with a free ticket to see this film and giving me an excuse to talk about a franchise I really enjoy.

First a little background on myself and my feelings towards the franchise on the whole. Unfortunately, I have not read the manga, so not much discussion to be had on that front. I have seen the original 1995 film, both seasons of S.A.C., and some of Arise. The two seasons of Stand Alone Complex are my personal favorites as they do not suffer from the same pacing issues that the original film faced, and have more time to flesh out and explore the heavier concepts the ’95 film wanted to express.

I just watched the original film over again today. While it certainly is interesting and deserves the recognition and attention it has gotten, it really isn’t something I enjoyed all the much. As I mentioned, this really has to do with the lack of time the film had and some pacing issues it faced. Additionally, the voice work and some of the animation is pretty jarring or just plain not all that great. That being said, it is a dense film that garnered a lot of revolutionary ideas and is definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.

As for Arise, I have only seen bits and pieces of that and don’t really have much interest in it. This iteration of Ghost in the Shell seems to be more action oriented, for those who want something sleek and cool to enjoy without all of the philosophical conversations of transhumanism and various other concepts bogging down the enjoyment. Totally acceptable content, just not what I got into the franchise for.

Taking this into account, what I would look for in a live-action adaptation, is something that sticks to the more traditional ideas present in the original film. I want to see philosophical conversation and deeper concepts explored, but at a reasonable pace and more satisfying conclusion that the original film didn’t quite offer me but S.A.C did.

If you somehow have avoided seeing anything related to the new Ghost in the Shell film, then take a look at the trailers which I have provided below. I’m basing a lot of my thoughts on these since that’s really all the material about the new film I have prior to seeing it.

The two trailers for the film

It is pretty clear that this film is going to pay homage to the original 1995 film featuring several nearly identical shots. While the film has the modern day “urban” aesthetic, which is frankly something I’m getting sick of, the care and consideration to feature the most memorable shots from the original film (despite the “updated” modern visual flare) is something that has me at least hopeful.

I’m sure many people reading this expected me to bash this movie based on the initial trailers, but this is not the case. While I feel the film may suffer from being too action oriented, loosing focus on the real point and “meat” of the franchise, the level of attention shown to me thus far implies some level of competency and understanding of the source material.

From what I can tell, it seems like the story is going to blend ideas from the ’95 film and take aspects of the narrative from S.A.C. which is what I am looking for. The “bad guy” of the film seems to be Kuze as opposed to The Puppet Master, which is a smart change if that is the case. Kuze is a lot more sympathetic and relatable; this will allow for the film to be more interesting by keeping more Western conventions in play, while still allowing plenty of room for the slower and contemplative concepts that the franchise is known for.

In short, the narrative has real potential to be what I’m looking for.

This is the number one important thing for me. I want to enjoy the film and have an engaging narrative that respects the franchise. While there are some minor concerns regarding the amnesia plot that seems to be in play here, I’m at least hopeful that things can work out by time the credits roll.

Outside of narrative competency I am stoked for the Geisha scenes. They look really good from the trailers and I was impressed to find out that practical effects were used there. The film could have easily used a ton of CGI (which, is usually bad), but practical effects, especially good ones, are amazing. Going to leave a video where Adam Savage talks with the guy who made the Geisha stuff; super cool! I hope the film features other neat practical effects like this.

Neat look at practical effects

Ghost in the Shell has managed to spark a lot of controversy with its casting choice for Scarlett Johansson as The Major. Outcries of whitewashing, people saying she’s a bad actress, etc… I don’t care about any of that. Now let me be clear, I get the idea behind the whitewashing claims, and I understand that Hollywood has problems with representation within the industry. However, it doesn’t matter for this film. The argument here is dumb and having literally even a scrap of knowledge about the franchise should make this obvious. The Major is a cyborg that can literally look like anything (not to mention she uses a Western model for her body any way).

My biggest concern is that The Major isn’t given justice in how she’s portrayed in this new film. She’s a strong female character and nailing that is leagues more important than anything else. Given Scarlett Johansson’s track record, I think she can handle it, but this is what the argument should focus on if it has to be about anything.

Not everything needs to be controversial, or act as some kind of political movement. There are battles worth fighting, but nobody should be offended by this. The original creator is cool with the casting choices, so are the Japanese people. Couple that with how the cast makes narrative sense, there really shouldn’t be any issue here.

I’m not the only one to think so. Just check out YouTube’s Gigguk.

He misses some opportunity for his argument, but I definitely agree here

I think that I might just enjoy this film. Do I expect a cinema masterpiece? No, but I think the film will mange to at least be competent and enjoyable. Now all that’s left is to go and watch it. I’ll do a review then, so here’s hoping!

Are you planning to see the new Ghost in the Shell film? Think it looks good, bad, or just kind of meh? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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