BEIRUT: With all the major studios now struggling to keep spewing out films, and of those films many being remakes, spin-offs, and sequels, it’s not at all surprising that some of those releases are not all hits.
Rupert Sanders’s Ghost in the Shell is a shot for live-action remake of the popular Japanese Anime and video game, and Scarlett Johansson’s much commented upon casting is the least of the film’s problems.
Narrating the tale of Major, the first human t0 successfully be fully cyber-enhanced, and her journey in discovering her cryptic past, and the corruption that fills those who control her.
As a premise, the story sounds rather interesting seeing as to how it tackles a rather sensitive and controversial topic regarding human cyber-enhancement and the possibilities that this branch of science could raise.
Yet, rather than fill the film with a deeper discourse, the filmmakers choose to brush over the subject-matter and emphasize the visual spectacle.
Sanders creates a surrealistic world filled with saturated colors from the digitized holographic advertisements that tower over the buildings.
Yet those same buildings and city streets appear too clean to have been lived in and while this might seem like a newly envisioned future to some, others might feel a certain deja-vu.
Echoes of the sci-fi cult classic Blade Runner hack and invade the viewers’ mind, with the biggest difference being that the cityscape in Blade Runner was dirty, abused, and very much lived in. In addition to all that, the cityscape in Runner felt more alive and somehow easily reachable in our future.
Nothing in this remake expresses a new vision or twist – one could argue that it is nothing new under the sun.
Much of the buzz surrounding the film came from the casting of Scarlett Johansson as the film’s protagonist who in origin is Japanese.
Fans of the original anime were up in arms regarding Hollywood’s continuous white-washing, yet when viewed and if one pays attention to the narrative or the concept, the character of Major is in fact a robotic shell.
Mokoto who is the ghost within this shell is the one who is Japanese.
Scarlett Johansson’s performance is still flat complaints of her casting should have been more concerned with the acting rather than the actor’s skin color.
A rather dull and emotionless performance, Johansson lacks the magic she delivered in films like Her, Lucy, and Under the Skin.
Micheal Carmen Pitt who plays the film’s antagonist Kuze, does a fine job as the tragic hero, and delivers his monologues with heartfelt emotion.
The rest of the cast are as soulless as the androids in this flick.
And this is the sum of it – the film is structured with the pretense of complexity and depth yet as the narrative evolves one soon realizes how hollow it is.
Screenwriter Jamie Moss, briefly touching upon the potential philosophical nature of the character’s arc, dumbs down Mokoto’s journey of self-discovery while relying on the action sequences and a one-dimensional lovers’ reunion subplot.
To make matters worse, Moss forces clunky dialogue down the characters’ throats which spreads throughout the film like a virus infecting every circuit of the film.
With Hollywood on this path laden with remakes, and sequels, one must wonder whether this cycle will continue and whether the audience will continue to tolerate it. Some films should not be touched, yet Hollywood is planning on remaking Scarface, Jumanji, and The Six Billion Dollar Man.
While this might come off as a smart money making strategy, many fans of the original films are quite disappointed and some are downright angry that Hollywood studios don’t seem to acknowledge the fans of these films.
Ghost in the Shell is now playing at Vox Cinemas.
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