I’ll be quite frank with you, guys: when this new Ghost in the Shell film was announced, I screamed like a total fangirl… and I’m a dude. This to me this was one of those news that gives my geeky life a bit of inspiration; the original 1995 anime masterpiece ranks among some of my favorite films, along with Blade Runner, The Crow, Escape From New York and Dune.
So it was pretty obvious this film wasn’t going to live up to my expectations.
Every time Hollywood says the word “remake”, I am pretty sure that most films fans start cringing and fearing the worst (which made the Blade Runner film, while not a remake, much more amazing in terms of quality and end product, considering they had what I call The Hollywood Handicap). The reason behind this is pretty simple: Hollywood doesn’t give a crap about the heart of the story, most of the time. Just ask Stephen King and The Dark Tower adaptation made this year (*shudders*).
Actually, the film version of that iconic book series is a pretty good link to this Ghost in the Shell movie: in both cases the settings are spot on and they are gorgeous to look at, the actors are doing a good job (while I am not totally sold on Johansson as the best pick for the main role, she works her butt off) and the general plot is quite the same to the source material (I won’t give much away because it’s not my style to spoil my readers).
The film does work hard to revive some of the best scenes of the original 1995 film, but it doesn’t hold a candle to that version. The reason behind this is quite simple: we already saw that in a great movie and the need to revive it, scene by scene, just with a better image quality and real actors, doesn’t come off as a huge reward. I mean, man, I can cite the original film dialogue by dialogue (my brother hates it every time I do that, by the way) and I am sure most fans can do it as well.
But the heart of the story, the dystopian and steampunk elements that turned Ghost in the Shell into such a classic, is gone. It feels like a heartless movie and that hurts me deeply; the potential for a modern classic was there, but the director and the crew chose to take the easy route, thus making an uneven film with just great imagery… and imagery alone doesn’t win over viewers.
At the end of the day, you are better off watching the original film, unless you just want to see Scarlett Johansson kicking ass (which makes up to a high part of male population around the globe, I gotta say). This Ghost in the Shell remake is a Mercedes with no engine: great to look at, but without any capacity to be useful.