MOVIE REVIEW: Ghost in the Shell honours its anime roots

Scarlett Johansson plays The Major in the movie Ghost in the Shell.
Scarlett Johansson plays The Major in the movie Ghost in the Shell. Paramount Pictures

TRANSLATING a cult manga anime into a feature film was never going to be easy.

Ghost in the Shell, the franchise, tells the story of the fictional counter-cyberterrorist organisation Public Security Section 9, led by protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi, in mid-21st century Japan.

The manga, first materialised in 1989, is cryptic and violent, with a clever and enigmatic script.

When the 2017 feature film was announced, starring Scarlett Johansson rather than a Japanese actress, people were doubtful. I was, too.

But I was wrong.

Johansson is so good as Major that her ethnicity really makes no difference.

She moves and appears to be a synthetic object inhabited by a human ghost. In that regard, her acting is perfect.

Scarlett Johansson in a scene from the movie Ghost in the Shell.
Scarlett Johansson in a scene from the movie Ghost in the Shell. Paramount Pictures

Then there is the story.

In the near future, Major (Johansson) 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.

When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people's minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it.

As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that she has been lied to: her life was not saved, it was stolen. She will stop at nothing to recover her past, find out who did this to her and stop them before they do it to others.

So although this film is based on the Japanese Manga, this The Ghost in the Shell film does not follow the plots or timelines of the previous anime films, and die-hard fans are not happy about that.

The graphics are superb and the script, although different, has sequences so similar to the original manga films, it gave me a deja vu moment.

Ghost in the Shell is a good film that could introduce new fans to this cult manga phenomenon.


Ghost in the Shell

Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche.

Director: Rupert Sanders

Rating: M

Verdict: 4/5 stars

Topics:  movie review movies scarlett johansson

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