Ghost in the Shell (2017) (2017)
April 5, 2017 8:24 AM - Subscribe

In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dangerous criminals.

This movie flopped on the weekend but presumably I wasn't the only one who saw it.
posted by AndrewStephens (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I never saw the original so I went into this with no expectations. As an action film it is perfectly serviceable.

I liked: the general colorful look of the film, the implants that everyone had, the invisibility suits, the quiet scene near the end between Major and her mother.

I didn't like: the nudie suit looks ridiculous in a live action film, the secondary characters didn't get enough time, the end fight was uninspired, lots of stuff was introduced but never used again.

Also, I am not convinced that jumping backwards off a skyscraper in slow motion would be as effective in real life as this film would have us believe.
posted by AndrewStephens at 8:51 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


Agree with AndrewStephens about that ridiculous suit: it's little more than body paint --- if a male character was dressed like this, you can bet there would be massive objections about how it needlessly sexualizes the character.

Other than that, it just struck me as yet another loud flashy collection of sci-fi movie clichés.... yawn.
posted by easily confused at 1:12 PM on April 5


In the original manga and anime nude Major has larger breasts and they're a major element of the poster for the anime. Like, OK, they're not three standard deviations from the norm, but the author and animators made them ample and then had the Major unclothed for lots of scenes. At points in the original movie I got distracted from the story by over the top male gaze fanservice.
posted by zippy at 6:05 PM on April 5


I've seen the movie. Twice.

So to discuss the movie: there's a lot of Major's nude boobs and butt on display, and like the original it's kinda uncomfortable.
posted by zippy at 8:04 PM on April 5


The bodysuit didn't even come close to making the Major look naked and it was as about as much of a non-event as the rest of the movie. Here's a whole video about the suit on Tested while being worn by someone. Not sure how that makes anyone uncomfortable.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:26 PM on April 5


For anyone interested here is a thoughtful 15 minute in depth review by Alachia Queen
She really gets going around minute 6.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:04 AM on April 6


I thought it looked and sounded great (3D IMAX). I quite liked some of the acting choices Johansson made - physically very still and stoic.

Where it fell flat was every time someone started talking or where the plot was concerned. The base philosophy of the film was not exactly breaking new ground in 1995 but it at least stood out in the general landscape of (animated) movies. 'Smart' (or at least clever) blockbusters are very much a thing now so it's a shame to see very little new spin added to a concept like this in 2017.

I would've gladly had more of a Blade Runner (or even the 1995 original) approach of spending time meandering in the world as that was the true strength.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:12 AM on April 6


I thought Major's lines, especially in the first half of the movie, were directed to be as emotionally dead as possible. Like "ok, could you read that again but with zero affect?" Which is understandable given the character, but really didn't make for compelling watching.

I enjoyed the video-gamey cityscapes and fight scenes, and Beat Takashi's so 1990 it hurts car.
posted by zippy at 2:42 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


P.o.B. --- I'm a theater projectionist, I think it's safe to say I've seen this movie more times than anyone else in this thread. I hold by my statement: loud and clichéd.
posted by easily confused at 9:23 AM on April 6 [7 favorites]


Have not seen this yet, did see a not great rip of the original recently, not being an animefan it was a bit of a struggle to get through and the profundity of the originals theme was underwhelming, there were certainly sufficient cool psychedelic techno images. I'll see it eventually but my only concern about the remake is if the garbage collector scenes are handled with good humor and remain clever. I did like the geisha-robo-spider in the trailer.
posted by sammyo at 10:35 AM on April 6


The dead affect was also a carryover from Oshii's film. He tried to present Kusanagi as much of an object he could. Including showing how she was built through Kusanagi's dream sequence. If you watch the original movie, Kusanagi doesn't really blink.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:57 AM on April 6


Also, the gait that Johansson was using was more weird looking than robotic.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:58 AM on April 6


I watched it recently, and since I haven't seen the 1995 original, I found it - okay, I guess? Not a great movie, not even a particularly good movie, but eh, fine, I guess.

The naked body suit did nothing for me, and the plot twist (?) that the corporate overlord would be evil was telegraphed, like, right from the get-go. And I found the conceit of one guy speaking in Japanese with subtitles somewhat irritating. Why bother?

Anyway, so I've put the original at the top of my Netflix queue - are there quicker ways to get to it? From the reviews I skimmed, it seems like I want the 1995 original, not the CGI-added 2.0 version? So we'll see.
posted by RedOrGreen at 4:00 PM on April 6


Serious spoilers ahoy!

I enjoyed the action and the live-action translation of the anime visuals, especially the scenes like the Major's chasing the guy withe active-camo cloak, were pretty cool, particularly some of the little characters, like the police forensics woman, the red-haired lady who chainsmokes and pops her eyes off so she can interface with her equipment, or the fingers that sprout a dozen little fingers for hyperactive typing.

However, they took the Major's unique and interesting origin story and replaced it with a retreat of Robocop's story, replete with unethical but government-protected corporation. They gave most of Section 9 short-shrift and put them into the Defense Department, rather than a more domestic agency where they belong. It stuck with the core partnership of Major/Batou, which is good, and they added some flavor with Togusa and the excellent Aramaki, also a couple of good things, but the rest of the team was filler, and of the only Saito got to do his particular thing.

Of the movies out there ("After Earth," "Lucy," and even "Manchester by the Sea,") where a character spends a long time in stoicism, you realize that you have to give the character an engaging drive or else they're unwatchable and unlikable, no matter how much you want to project total control and cerebrality. The Major has a couple interesting drives, like studying humanity like an uninvolved scientist, or figure out the deal with her memory glitches, and of course find the terrorist Kuze, but none of them seemed urgent, because she has no life to set aside to answer the questions she wants answered. It just wasn't quite working all together into an engaging character.

And part of that is because the 1995 movie, which has hands-down the best visuals quality all the video media, was fairly straightforward cop story as I recall it (watched it in the last couple years), complicated by the cybernetically-enhanced future they live in, where a villain can hack people's minds and reality. There was no twist (also telegraphed as mentioned above) where the villain is the anti-hero and the benevolent corporation was engaged in monstrous crimes after all.
posted by Sunburnt at 4:49 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


I have not seen it yet, but I would like to discuss it.

When the casting was announced and the first trailers put out and then the endless 'It's not Whitewashing because.. ' started I was upset for many reasons.

Not least because the casting communicated loud and clear to me that the producers/studio did not care for the source material.

This is important because all the reviews I have read basically boil down to ' they mostly ignored the source material'. The creators cherry picked the parts they liked, and ignored or bastardized the rest. The result is a 'meh' hodge podge where if you squint you can see how great a proper adaptation (not slavish copy, a true anime to film adaptation) might have been - well engaging at least.

But no.

Before everything-there-ever-was-online-forever, before global cultural discussion, hell before the internet - this film might have been successful in an English speaking market because people wouldn't have been able to see it for what it is, a bad quilt made up of stolen and/or neutered ideas.

But Now? Now audiences, critics, fans, (who all have overlapping venn diagrams of knowledge of the source material), can point at the current GITS film and then say "No. This Thing is lesser than That Thing and here's specific reasons why."
posted by Faintdreams at 1:44 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


Faintdreams, I discussed similar topics about the film with a bunch of scifi fans in their 20s this week. These people (nominally the target market) had little interest in seeing the film for the reasons you just raised, particularly the whitewashing of the main character.

It surprised me that all knew about the issue and were upset about it - it really shows how the studios are not in control of their own branding even while spending millions.

I know this is not the reason the cast Scarlett Johansson but I thought making Major a generic white woman worked well in the scenes where she reconnected with her mother but looked completely different. It played into the themes (such as they were) of loss and identity nicely.

Apart from not looking the part, Scarlett Johansson must be one of the most qualified people for the role on the planet - I think this is the 7th or 8th film where she plays a super assassin with a murky past.
posted by AndrewStephens at 4:52 AM on April 7


The skinsuit didn't bother me. It was just pure gross fan service in the original and they made it seem almost like it had a functional purpose, instead of just BOOBs.

It's been a while since I've seen the original but I wouldn't say they ignored it at all. They changed the primary plot, but at several points it was shot-for-shot to the original, and it hit the same beats.

It was better than I expected from reviews.
posted by graventy at 3:01 PM on April 9


Re: the race issue- it's both whitewashing but also Americanizing, which is both morally suspect but also visually bizarre. Sparsely Tokyo streets populated by both white and non-white Yankees and many of the local people in otherworldly futuristic garments. I joked that it takes place in an alternate timeline where the postwar occupation had a far more longer lasting effect on Japan. Why else would Section 9 be part of a Department of Defense, rather than a ministry? Why else is everyone from street-level garbage men to evil corporate executives, Americans?
posted by Apocryphon at 6:40 PM on April 10


Well, I'm half way through it, and it's like they re-made Johnny Mnemonic with Johansson in place of Reeves. At least thats the vibe, if not the story. It's even got that one actor (Takeshi Kitano) in it, only he's way older now. Not exactly The Matrix, hey? All that money, and we coulda had a better dealie.
posted by valkane at 6:09 PM on April 11


Oh shit, they've even got a Dolph Lundgren stand-in in a hoodie!
posted by valkane at 6:19 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]


So bad. So very. Very very bad.
posted by valkane at 7:23 PM on April 11


it's like they re-made Johnny Mnemonic with Johansson in place of Reeves

Careful, this is the first thing that's tempting me to see this
posted by naju at 12:19 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


This is going to sound colder than I mean it to, but this movie lacks the charm of Johnny Mnemonic.

Since its shortcomings are well documented, I'd just like to mention that I didn't realize Takeshi Kitano was in this, and I really dug him as Chief Aramaki. Using the briefcase as a riot shield, dropping a cold-blooded one liner, then emptying his casings onto the dead henchman? Baller.

Dude's like Willem Dafoe. He just pops up unexpectedly in weird things, and I'm always glad to see him.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 3:35 PM on April 15


The Ghost in the Ghost by Anne Anlin Cheung, LARB: "The conflation of Asiatic femininity and artificiality reaches from Plato through Oscar Wilde and can be seen in Art Nouveau, French Symbolism, all the way up to wide-ranging versions in the 21st century. Asiatic femininity has always been prosthetic. The dream of the yellow woman subsumes a dream about the inorganic. She is an (if not the) original cyborg."
posted by sapagan at 2:15 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Hideo to Major: "together we can avenge what they have done to us."
filthy light thief: "for turning us Caucasian but keeping your mother as Japanese, for not tutoring you on how to say Japanese names without sounding like an American. We well get our vengeance!"

This was an American action movie version of anime. Not the worst remake ever, but damn were there some cringy moments. And did the original movie talk about ghosts and shells so much? I was waiting for someone to say "you are the true ghost in the shell!" Hideo Kuze got close to that -- "Your shell belongs to them, but not your ghost."
posted by filthy light thief at 9:41 PM on May 2


The skinsuit didn't bother me. It was just pure gross fan service in the original and they made it seem almost like it had a functional purpose, instead of just BOOBs.

Comparison between original (including NSFW anime nudity) and the new movie trailer (including the skinsuit). Summary: the current remake tones down the fanservice, but doesn't remove it completely.

It's on YouTube, so you can go down a rabbit hole of related videos. I'll start with one: How Weta Workshop Made Ghost In The Shell's Thermoptic Suit! (Adam Savage's "Tested")
posted by filthy light thief at 9:47 PM on May 2


This felt like someone watched the original but without subtitles or dubbing and so had to make up their own plot. Visually it was decent but the story and characterisation was nonsense.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:15 PM on July 17


95% of all the "problematic" stuff could have been eliminated if the setting was explicitly set as "fictional artificial city on an artificial island" (with an open immigration policy) or "city in a newly colonized extrasolar world." Do the same subtitle thing with Aramaki for a few more characters (of other mothers tongue/ethnic origins, maybe throw in characters with accents that don't correspond to their ethnic phenotypes) and the "whitewashing" criticism becomes a non-issue.

Even keep "Major Motoko Kusanagi" as the character's name and still cast Johansson; wouldn't be a problem then.

This is more of a homage/influenced by effort... not calling it Ghost in the Shell, or calling it Ghost in the Shell: Something Something would have allayed (some) criticism.

The original 1995 version was based on Hong Kong (circa late 80's/early 90's - the only non-child experience I have with the city), the 2017 incarnation is pretty much firmly set in early 90's HK with the numerous visual references (the end cemetery is, beyond doubt, a famous cemetery in HK).

The Major's thermoptic suit is likely a compromise - it's less titillating than the 1995 version, but introduces flaws (without the suit, her body doesn't normally have seams except when the plot called for them, but her face isn't covered by thermoptic material but is still Predator-ed... wth?). The visual effects of the bad guy's bunny-suit camo was cool, and generally the thermoptic camo effects were very good. Despite the shot-by-shot identity in the shallow-water fight, they forgot to/couldn't do the standing-in-water effect.

Batou's (heh, he goes on to do Euron Greyjoy in GoT) eyes explanation is interesting, but not enough time in this movie to explore. The 1995 version leaves doubt whether its an injury prosthetic or a personal choice.

Aramaki/Takeshi Kitano is another stupid Americanism/Hollywood choice. Kitano does an excellent job, but the baggage from Johnny Mnemonic sucks and the 1995 version was small and wizened. Loved the briefcase/shield thing - would have been better if stuff fell out of it to show that it's his regular briefcase - which just happens to be bullet resistant (and if referencing the 1995 version; the baddies tend to use "hot" rounds with either armour piercing materials and/or excess velocity which can lead to decreased reliability/safety but helps counter armour).

No mention of Togusa's Mateba Autorevolver, but that's ok - his pistol looks similar and he gets to be involved in the shortened "taking down the heli-jet" (which was Batou's last minute deus ex machina job).

The ubiquitous holograms are really neat; but are they projected from local generators or are they an overlay created by hardware that (everyone?) has access to?

Goddamnit, those hologram things are as annoying as popup ads. Potentially exponentially moreso.

Plotwise, I kind of liked it. Sure, Robocop, but failed experiment flushed down the toilet who managed to survive in the sewers and come back as the baddie is compelling.

Juliette Bunoch taking the place of Caucasian beardy-guy technology Doctorate was nice - as was the slightly expanded role.

This is nowhere near a deep movie (even accidentally), but it's a visually delicious one - who owes a lot to its source material.

Delicious, but not necessarily filling, nor necessarily a staple or regular treat.
posted by porpoise at 11:43 PM on August 1


Why else is everyone from street-level garbage men to evil corporate executives, Americans?

Apart from the Dane, the French woman, the Singaporean, the Brits, the Australians, the Romanian and (really) the Zimbabwean-Kiwi. It still makes no sense but there you go.
posted by biffa at 3:21 PM on August 7


Juliette Bunoch taking the place of Caucasian beardy-guy technology Doctorate was nice - as was the slightly expanded role.

You're thinking of Ishikawa? This movie incorporated elements from both GiTS films and the SAC series. Ishikawa is in this film but Binoche's role, Dr. Oulet, was I believe Dr. Haraway from the second film, GiTS 2: Innocence. Just reading those two sentences makes me think how contorted this film is - like...

Batou's ... eyes explanation is interesting, but not enough time in this movie to explore. The 1995 version leaves doubt whether its an injury prosthetic or a personal choice.

With the aid of a couple of beers, I could probably talk on for an hour about how Oshii uses eyes, eyesight, and gaze in the 1995 film. For instance the next time you get a chance to watch the original film, count how many times the characters actually look at each other onscreen. It maybe happens twice. Also, go ahead and count how many times the characters are actually staring straight at you, the audience.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:16 AM on August 8


The most realistic part of this movie is the one where everyone is constantly being hacked and security is impossible

Also, based on what we saw in this movie, it seems like the panels effect is what her robot body really looks like, and she's got a skin suit she wears over it sometimes to help her blend in. She takes it off for missions, she wears it when she's pretending to be human the rest of the time.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:51 PM on October 2


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