The hype played its part in getting the audiences ready to watch one of the most influential animes of its era, while the whitewashing scandal kept news on the live adaptation alive. I decided that in order to fully criticize something, its to dive in head first with an open mind. The result? I came out with a flustered mind. So let’s take another undiluted look at Ghost In The Shell aka GITS
- Worldbuilding was done right, reminiscent of the Blade Runner style Neo-Tokyo themed cities
- CGI effects were cool and represented the cyborgs well
- Soundtrack made the movie more watchable or if it helps made me stay till the end.
- Whitewashing case aside, ScarJo does not fit this role well ( I will explain more below)
- The entire Section 9 seems under represented as the only members you see are the Major and Batou
- Plot holes everywhere, as they try to appease fans through CTRL+C, CTRL+V of famous scenes throughout the Ghost In The Shell franchise.
- Villain’s story stupendously less appealing as the movie does not give audiences any connection to the villain.
So What Went Wrong?
In order to flesh out how another anime live adaptation failed to meet standards, lets break it down to its core components.
The reason I had mentioned above that ScarJo was not meant to be in this role was due to the fact her acting could not capture the spirit of Major Motoko Kusanagi. If there is one thing about Ghost In The Shell that new viewers should understand is the small nuances and details matter. ScarJo’s Major seems awkward and bulky while the anime’s portrayal has a more fluid persona which can transition easily from a strict militant persona to an easygoing urbanite. ScarJo fails to give viewers a taste of this persona, by strictly going into Terminator mode most of the time.
The movie also puts Section 9 which is supposed to be like the NSA of GITS, however in this movie, it is portrayed as nothing more than a puppet for an industrialist. The director of the facility, Aramaki is the only Japanese speaking role in the entire movie, just to remind people they are still in Tokyo. As for the rest of Section 9, you will only ever see Batou with short glimpses of a brunette Togusa. The rest is placed so far on the sidelines you can literally forget they were there at all.
In all honesty I wasn’t coming into the movie expecting a 1 to 1 representation of the anime to happen in the live adaptation but what they have done here is nothing short of heresy. Take an impactful villain from the series such as Kuze, meld it with some memorable scenes from the franchise and somehow meld it into a convoluted plot about individuality while providing no groundwork for such a theme ends up with a movie that becomes half assed by trying to take itself too seriously.
One of the main draws from Ghost In The Shell is the deep conversations on humanity and individuality, political influences on the basic principles of privacy, the debate on the creeping drawback from being too advanced in technology. Every episode or movie from the series has a steady flow which derives in a huge underlining plot which everything that happens in the world affects the main cast. You won’t get to see that here because, its all about the ScarJo screen time.
For a movie I felt had so much potential to do something amazing, and out of this world, The Ghost In The Shell live adaptation falls short of anything with substance. Poor casting choices and basic Hollywood shenanigans once again proves why live adaptations for animes has not reached a tipping point for success.