Ghost In The Shell: Much More Shell Than Ghost

I don’t feel like I’m the right person to be crusading against this film for its casting decisions. It has nothing to do with my feelings on the matter, I just don’t feel properly equipped to be leading that discussion. What I will say is that whitewashing is a problem and representation is hugely important. I’m half-Mexican, and it does suck having almost every vaguely Hispanic film character be a drug dealer.

I’m also not all that keen on the original 1995 Mamoru Oshii film. I know that many people hold it up as one of the best anime films, but it honestly didn’t do much for me. I found the plot to be needlessly complex and it didn’t resolve much. It was fine enough, but not something I’d need to watch again.

Anyways, I’m a film reviewer. Let’s review THIS film.

This Ghost In The Shell has been quite the discussion piece. Directed by Rupert Sanders, it tells the story of “the Major”, a robotic being that retains the same brain (Ghost) but can be uploaded to different bodies (Shell). And now you’re caught up on the surface-level clever title.

The Major, played by Scarlett Johansson, is something of a superspy working for Section 9, some division of the police force. She uses her technologically modified body to do all sorts of crazy stunts, like jumping off the top of a building and through one of the windows to shoot some robots, somehow. It doesn’t really make sense, but it looks pretty cool, so you deal with it. The Major and her crew find out about someone who is hacking into Shells and using them to kill important scientists who are seemingly linked. It becomes their job to find out why these people are being targeted and who the mastermind is. I will NOT be spoiling the rest of the plot, but perhaps summarizing my feelings on what happens.

So what are my feelings on what happens in the rest of the film? Honestly?


I didn’t find most of the developments to be all that interesting. It started to be a chore to make it through the 107 minutes the film had for me. The philosophy behind the concept isn’t anything unique or profound either; it felt like something that would impress a freshmen philosophy class.

While what’s underneath doesn’t work very well, most of what appears on the screen is really well done. The CG is slick and smooth for much of the film, but the climactic fight scene slopes downward pretty quickly. The action is well choreographed, and Johansson executes it well. The issue there is that Sanders gets much too comfortable with the “slow-motion” button that I presume to be pretty distinct on the post-production keyboard. Slow-motion is absolutely fine when it has a purpose, but these scenes clearly only use it as an effect to show how much money they were given for the fights.

By far, the true standout of the film is Clint Mansell and Lorne Balfe’s score. Balfe has contributed music to films such as Inception and Sherlock Holmes, while Mansell is Darren Aronofsky’s go-to composer. The score is perfectly eerie and unsettling, setting up the new futuristic world that we’re unfamiliar with. I often found myself missing patches of dialogue to listen in to the background music, which was infinitely more interesting.


Of course, this film has plenty of people calling for Hollywood to end their policy of remaking films, which is silly. There is nothing inherently wrong with film remakes. Best case scenario, you get a cool new film that maybe even outdoes the original. The worst possible outcome is that there is another misguided film in existence and the original still exists. Nothing will change that.



Ghost In The Shell (2017): 4/10

Nick Potter

Co-founder of The Filmsmiths. Degree in Broadcast & Cinematic Arts with a minor in Cinema Studies from Central Michigan University. Pretty much the barbecue sauce of people but I'm doing my best.

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