The world of Ghost In The Shell is technologically advanced beyond all comprehension. The line between human and machine has blurred, the two almost becoming one, and that’s where this story begins. It revolves around a woman named Major (Scarlett Johansson). In her past life, Major died, but her mind, or ‘ghost,’ has been salvaged, placed into a brand new cybernetic body. She’s enhanced, stronger and faster than a normal human, and practically immortal too. Major, who’s past is full of tragedies, has been warped into a weapon, and a damn good one at that. She is, by all definitions, the perfect soldier. But being a solider has a price, and the life she’s lived may not have ever happened.
Ghost In The Shell is a slow-burner, and not in a good way. Despite being a mere 107 minutes in length, a runtime that feels at least twice that, the story, or lack of, takes its time in being set up. There’s an awful lot of dedication to creating these characters and setting up their backstories, almost exhaustingly so. It’s overbearing. The universe created is thorough and full of the best visuals a $110 million budget can buy, even if they’re executed to an uneven level of quality, but having a good universe is one thing and having a good plot is another. The two may go hand and hand, but you don’t automatically get one if you have the other. This is a concept the writers behind Ghost In The Shell don’t seem to be able to grasp.
A key element of the film relates back to the title, Ghost In The Shell. The character of Major once had a life, and this life was taken from her. She has been given a new body and a new identity, or a ‘shell’ if you please, going from a young Asian woman to… uh… Scarlett Johansson. One may argue that the whitewashing of her character is justified within the plot, but the so-called justification of this decision remains racist and immoral. The Ghost In The Shell brand sells itself. It’s a moneymaking platform that’s been going for decades now, so having Johansson as the lead role, no matter how well she may suit the character (aside from her nationality), is inherently whitewashing. Her character could’ve, and should’ve been played by an Asian woman, and the message this film gives would’ve packed the same punch. Nothing about casting Johansson elevates the plot, but instead detracts from the world surrounding her.
Ghost In The Shell is a contrived, idiotic and ironically lifeless film that spends most of its runtime debating the morals of being alive. It’s a film that obviously thinks its smart and creative, when in reality it’s dumb and generic. Once it hit the hour mark, I started to check my watch every ten to fifteen minutes, and as you can guess, that’s never a good thing. The funniest thing about it is that this film is only really worth watching for Scarlett Johansson’s performance, despite Scarlett Johansson not being the one who should’ve taken the role.
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