Direction: Rupert Sanders; Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbeak, Chin Han, Juliette Binoche; Screenplay: Jamie Moss, William Wheeler, Ehran Mruger;Based on Ghost In A Shell by Masamune Shirow; Editing: Neil Smith, Billy Rich; Producer: Avi Arad, Steven Paul, Michael Costigan; Music: Clint Mansell, Lorne Balfe; Genre: Sci-Fi Action; Distributor: Paramount Pictures; Location: Japan; Running Time: 106 minutes
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14
Ghost in the Shell is based on the Japanese manga by Masamune Shirow. It is set at a time where people have a bit of robot in them—either as physical aid to a disability or an augmentation to enhance their capability. The Major, Mila Killian’s (Johanssen), is the first to have a human brain transplanted into a robotic body. She is an experiment to develop a counter-operative cyborg. But beneath the metal shell are fragmented memories of the ghost of the person she used to be. The film follows her battles as an instrument of violence and aggression to her quest to discover her identity and humanity.
Undeniably, the movie is a visual feast with a roller coaster of spectacular interpretation of the future and the original anime. It stays faithful to the Japanese concept but in staying too faithful the movie fails to come into its own. The iconic Japanese story is nothing new as it resounds other movies of above average spies who are always too willing to set aside their powers and skill in exchange for knowing who they are and how it is to be human (think Bourne Identity, Total Recall, Unknown, and others). However, while the film surpasses them in its visual techniques and production values, it misses the heart of the narrative—that which drives a person to be human and to be with a family.
The message of Ghost in the Shell is everyone's struggle—to find one's identity, to discover the meaning of humanity, and to be one with society. Every person, over time and through the advancement of technology, becomes cold and calculating like a robot. When people start to neglect another person’s feeling in favor of his own, when they set aside natural and Divine laws in the pretense of order and discipline, when the rights of another are trampled to benefit the self—we become less human. But, even in a society where the true self seems to be vanishing – there will always be a Major trying to break free from the shell of corruption, apathy, and oppression in order to discover what it means to be a person.