“Ghost in the Shell”



Adapting the classic Japanese manga “Ghost in the Shell” into a live action film sounds like a pretty magnificent idea for a movie, right? This sci-fi extravaganza tells the story of Major (Scarlett Johansson), a cyborg who has a machine for a body but a human mind. Her brain was rescued after she died and Major has been trained to be a rugged crime fighting soldier; it’s a sturdy story idea that’s squandered in this film.

The movie is a visually slick dazzler, an intense, lavishly structured, virtual feast for your eyes. It’s like a candy-colored version of “The Matrix.” Every frame is saturated with splashy and colorful artistry, but most of this beauty has no sense of purpose except to look cool and get a rise out of its core manga fans. There are too many corny, nonsensical visuals (like a bizarre giant hologram of a bikini-clad woman lifting weights) that will leave you scratching your head. Once the glossy sheen begins to dull, the story quickly fizzles. The look of the movie fits with the original work, but here it’s plagued with a boring and uninspired story that’s presented in a far too simple and straightforward fashion to do it any justice.

Johansson is quite good as the half-robot with a really awful wig, but she’s played this type of role before and has yet to convince me that she has any greater range as an actor. Her lunky walking posture is amusing and she is convincing as an ass-kicking woman (though not so much as a character who is of Japanese heritage; there’s been some controversy over this casting choice among Asian American groups). The supporting performance are altogether forgettable with the exception of the lovely Juliette Binoche as Major’s creator Dr. Ouelet and Pilou Asbæk who at times steals everyone’s thunder in his very minor role as Batou.

Overall the film feels like an empty, hollow shell with no brain or heart, a pulsating visual assault for your eyeballs that’s allowed to run rampant until it becomes an overgrown mess of slick colors and zero substance.


  1. Good review. Visually, the movie is good, but the characters and the story are pretty “meh”, despite the movie being based on something profound as the original 1995 film.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Matrix was influenced by Ghost in the Shell, so things have come full circle! 😉 And you’re right, the story’s a right mess. But I did find the set pieces entertaining, and the spider tank mecha was pretty cool!


  3. Did not enjoy this movie. The story was a mess. The visuals got old pretty quick. The film was very dark in sense that after an hour I was hoping to see some sunlight, anything to take away the feeling I was trapped in a CGI orgy.

    2 stars from me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I should also add the whole “white washing” story should be ten or twenty times the controversy as OscarsSoWhite. Time and time again we films with characters of Asian ethnicity and such roles are given to a white actor/actress. Black actors/actresses are widely given roles in Hollywood today but very few Asians (or Hispanics for that matter) are afforded the same opportunity.

    I mention this because I thought OscarSoWhite was such a phony controversy given that black actors and actresses have been often recognized for great performances for decades (although not every year) – that it started to turn me off of the Oscars and in some instances, movies in general. And yet, Chris Rock screamed at the Oscars “ALL WE WANT IS OPPORTUNITY!!!!!” (“we” referring to the black community. OscarSoWhite refused to acknowledge that three years in a row, the winner for Best Director was from Mexico). My response to him this year would have been “Make more movies like “Moonlight” and “Fences” and less like “Ride Along” and “When the Bough Breaks” and you get those Oscar opportunities). However, there was no acknowledgement from OscarSoWhite that Asians and Hispanics are routinely not given the opportunity of having leading or supporting roles in Hollywood.

    Ghost in the Shell is just another example of a leading role should have gone to an Asian actress. But it went to a white actress – same with the Dr. Strange and Aloha, and I’m sure many others. This is blatent discrimination. The hypocrisy is just astounding. And yet, we only hear a few grumblings about “whitewashing” instead of the firestorm that was OscarsSoWhite.

    End of rant.


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