Info

A Film Diary

+ high-res version

This 2017 live-action version of the influential Japanese manga and anime has been heavily criticised for ‘whitewashing’, with Takeshi Kitano the only Asian actor among the principal cast members. (Though it’s a moot point, the white, western cast members actually do OK here, with the exception of a scenery-chewing Michael Pitt.) Commercially-minded, heavy-handed casting decisions aside, it’s a fine, fairly-enjoyable spectacle that tries hard to explore the original anime’s themes of sexuality, artificiality, the connected world and gender fluidity, though being a big Hollywood blockbuster naturally the narrative is explained in a much clearer fashion and the Japanese film’s subtlety and work-it-out-for-your-fucking-self-ness is sorely missed. Much of it is derivative: as well as drawing from the various versions of Ghost In The Shell that exist in different Japanese media, there’s also quite a lot of Blade Runner‘s multicultural Los Angeles here – though it’s set in a Tokyo-esque megalopolis called Niihama – but that does at mean it’s all very impressive to look at, with its giant hologram adverts, cyberpunk stylings and whatnot. Clint Mansell’s score lacks the immediacy of Kenji Kawai’s soundtrack for the 1995 Mamoru Oshii movie, but it’s atmospheric and occasionally interesting, and at least Scarlett Johansson cements her position as one of the leading post-millennium big screen action heros. This is a very striking shell of a movie, though, with the ghost of a better one rattling around inside it. (**½)