Ghost in the Shell (2017) by The Critical Movie Critics

Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Based on a popular graphic novel by Marasume Shirow and directed by Rupert Sanders (“Snow White and the Huntsman”), Ghost in the Shell is a visually stunning experience with a fine core performance by Scarlett Johansson (“Captain America: Civil War”), but it borrows so much of other, mostly better science fiction films and TV series, that charges of grand larceny should be levied against writers William Wheeler (“Queen of Katwe”), Ehren Kruger (“Transformers: Age of Extinction”) and Jamie Moss (“Street Kings”). It’s fine to incorporate good ideas, but this movie seems to grab ANYTHING it can.

So let’s review — and dissect just how this Ghost in the Shell rehashes and how it actually becomes a shell in and of itself. Major (Johansson) survives a terrorist bombing and is rebuilt with a robotic body (think “The Bionic Woman”), while her intact brain is placed inside the “shell” (“The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy,” look, I didn’t say ALL the pictures it steals from were great).

Soon, Major and her co-workers become anti-crime super fighters working for an all-knowing evil corporation, Hanku (see “RoboCop”). This group works in a Tokyo-like loud, bright, crowded metropolis featuring neon billboards and large, flashy holographic images (like “Blade Runner”) with an ultra modern transportation system (similar to “Minority Report”) while toiling for their ancient Asian master, Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano, “While the Women Are Sleeping”) which is pulled right from “Kung Fu Panda.”

While responding to an incident where an African ambassador (Christopher Obi, “Burke and Hare”) is kidnapped and a Hanku official is murdered, Major and her partner, Batou (Pilou Asbaek, “Ben-Hur”), save the ambassador and capture one of the killer cyborgs. To find out it’s origins, Major taps into its deep mainframe (much like the dream infiltration of “Inception”), but is hacked herself by a mysterious entity.

Major is captured by the dark being Kuze (Michael Pitt, “I Origins”), who reveals that all is not as it seems and the technology that separates humans and robots is being blurred all the time. Later, she begins experiencing some “glitches,” feels that maybe the memories she holds so dear may have been planted by a vast network bent on usurping the freedom of the individual (“The Matrix” comes to mind here).

A visit to a female stranger exacerbates those sensations.

Finally, she confronts a Hanku researcher, Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche, Academy Award winner for “The English Patient”) and finds out some terrible secrets about her condition. Fearing a mutiny, the villainous Hanku CEO, Cutter (Peter Ferdinando, “High-Rise”) sends a host of incompetent, idiotic, easy-to-kill henchmen (“Star Wars,” James Bond,” “The Lord of the Rings” and just about EVERY film franchise on the planet do the same), as well as a large cyber-tank (reminiscent of “The Terminator”) that threatens to blast everyone and everything into oblivion.

Despite the pick-pocketing, let’s at least give kudos to the cinematography (Jess Hall, “Transcendence”), the art department (led by Richard L. Johnson, “Pacific Rim”) and the special effects (supervised by Yves De Bono, “Ender’s Game”) because, as mentioned previously, Ghost in the Shell looks absolutely fantastic. In love — and in the movies — however, looks are not everything.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
3 Star Rating: Average


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The Critical Movie Critics

I have been a movie fan for most of my life and a film critic since 1986 (my first published review was for "Platoon"). Since that time I have written for several news and entertainment publications in California, Utah and Idaho. Big fan of the Academy Awards - but wish it would go back to the five-minute dinner it was in May, 1929. A former member of the San Diego Film Critics Society and current co-host of "The Movie Guys," each Sunday afternoon on KOGO AM 600 in San Diego with Kevin Finnerty.

'Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell (2017)' have 9 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 2, 2017 @ 12:34 pm Jan

    Silly review. Every movie made today has similarities to at least one movie. Also it may be a good idea for this critic to ACTUALLY review the movie and not give an abridged version of the screenplay.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 2, 2017 @ 12:40 pm speedxecuter

    Scarlett Johansson is taking on some interesting roles of late. I’m not sure if she is pushing the gender identity agenda with these sexless roles but she’s really trying to get away from her femininity with this, Her and Under the Skin and even Lucy to some dregree.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 2, 2017 @ 1:02 pm DominiC

    Good sci-fi action but it’ll get lost in the controversy of casting Johansson as the Major. If the studio insisted on using her, they should have moved the venue from Tokyo to NYC.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      April 2, 2017 @ 6:48 pm Jeff

      SJW would have complained about that too. It’s simple, people need to stop pretending to be hurt because of whitewashing or lack of female directors or whatever the latest trigger is. If there was bankable Japanese actress to cast, the studio would have used her. There isn’t, so move on.
      The movie isn’t good anyway, so that should be punishment enough.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      May 10, 2017 @ 8:00 am Lonely Boy

      My problem isn’t that Johansson was cast, it is that it turns out before she was robotized she was a Japanese runaway. Changing her to a “whitish” woman makes no sense whatsoever and the choice should be questioned.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 2, 2017 @ 1:26 pm Bannon

    This is a highly stylized Robocop. Other than the name it has nothing to do with the manga.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 2, 2017 @ 1:51 pm souless ginger

    I enjoyed it. Tries a bit to hard to be philosophical but the world building and action was cool to see (so is Scarlett though that goes with out having to say it).

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 2, 2017 @ 2:30 pm cardshark

    another Hollywood ruined IP

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 2, 2017 @ 3:16 pm on_a_yacht

    They got the cyberpunk dystopia future look right but everything else is just wrong.

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