Scarlett Johansson stars as Major, a cybernetic soldier questioning her reality in the manga/anime adaptation Ghost In The Shell. Seeing might not be believing in this world, but did I believe what I was seeing? So, is it any good?But… there is a lot to like here too. This is a hard one to review and I wavered between YES and NO for a long time because there’s enough here that makes it an entertaining enough diversion, it just doesn’t all come together. A mixture of Blade Runner, The Matrix, and any number of other tech-based actioners, Ghost In The Shell doesn’t set itself apart from its predecessors in any meaningful way.
There’s really not a lot of depth to the proceedings which leaves everything a bit cold.
The movie starts out well with an intriguing opening and the robot Geisha shootout that was seen in all the trailers, and there are two or three more standout sequences throughout, an invisible water fight, a dive into computerised memory and a creepy sequence in the villain’s hideout being the standouts. Director Rupert Sanders (Snow White And The Huntsman) has from all accounts faithfully translated the look and feel of the anime to the big screen (I’m not sure, I haven’t seen it). The action sequences are well choreographed and often beautiful to look at, but they come too sparingly for a movie sold on its action scenes, and for all the pretty visuals and talk about souls and “ghosts” (which is a lot), there’s really not a lot of depth to the proceedings which leaves everything a bit cold.The cast is uniformly fine, and do the best they can with the material. Johansson has the physicality for the part but her Major is a literal shell of a human being. In the very exposition-heavy script written by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger, she isn’t given a lot to do except stare intently and frown (like she’s trying to remember why she signed on for this) and then kick some ass (which she does ably). Between this, Under The Skin, and Lucy, she’s becoming far too adept at taking on these blank characters. Unlike Skin though, here she’s not given enough material to dig in deep and get to the core of Major’s inner struggles. It’s given a lot of lip-service, but I didn’t really feel any of it. The most affecting scenes are when Johansson meets Japanese actress Kaori Momoi’s character (I won’t spoil who she plays). She’s able to wring more emotion out of 5 minutes of screen time than the rest of the movie put together.All in all, while this isn’t a bad movie (you’ll probably find a lot to like here), it’s just squanders a great world and potentially interesting characters. It promises a lot in the setup but fails to deliver and strands it’s leading lady in a character with no substance. Go and check it out if you’re still curious, but I assure you it’ll be erased from your mind as quickly as it came.