This weekend the live-action Ghost In The Shell film starring Scarlett Johansson hits theatres. Early reviews haven't been kind, and the audacious whitewashing at the heart of it all irritates me so much that I don't plan to see it. Instead, I decided to dive into the West's favorite chapter in the long-running GiTS franchise: Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex!
ghost in the shell
There’s a huge problem at the center of Ghost in the Shell. You already knew that, though. You’ve heard about the whitewashing controversy and the problems of co-opting Asian culture for western audiences. But as bad as you might have heard that whitewashing problem is, it’s even worse. It’s impossible to discuss the movie’s troubled treatment of identity politics without spoiling some big reveals, but before we get into those, there are plenty of other things that make the live-action remake a disappointment.
If you’ve seen the original Ghost in the Shell anime, you remember some of the classic shootout scenes. But did you know to get authentic gunplay correct in the movie, director Mamoru Oshii took his staff to Guam to practice firing weapons? During their research, they discovered that there are no sparks when bullets ricochet off stone, which is why there aren’t any sparks in the film’s museum scene. That’s just one of the ghostly facts featured in the newest episode of You Think You Know Movies!
The Americanized remake of anime classic Ghost in the Shell finally crashes into theaters this Friday, like a bodysuit-clad Scarlett Johansson bursting through a glass window, guns blazing. While Paramount has managed to delay advance reviews by cancelling many press screenings (which is, traditionally, a bad sign), that has done little to deter the fans’ many burning questions. What secrets are being hidden from Major Motoko Kusanagi, and by whom? What are the tactical advantages of clothes that appear to be made of shrink-wrap? Will the movie be racist, and if so, how racist is it going to be? Why is English trip-hop musician Tricky in the film? Truly, The Ghost in the Shell is rich with secrets.
One thing’s for sure about the new Ghost in the Shell movie: There’s gonna be a whole lot of cyber. Cybercrime, cyber-people, there all is cyber. The plot hinges around, among other things, an android with a human mind investigating a string of brain-hacking crimes that leads her to a bunch of realizations about the nature of consciousness and humanity. Ghost in the Shell imagines a world where the line between human and machine is blurred almost to the point of nonexistence, with corporations selling body-augmentation technology amongst colleagues at fancy dinners. That’s where the opening of the movie finds Major, played by Scarlett Johansson, surveilling a corporate meeting that goes terribly wrong.
The whitewashing controversy surrounding Ghost in the Shell may keep it from becoming 2017’s big box office hit, despite how faithfully the filmmakers have recreated some of the most visually-arresting scenes from the 1995 original. It’s a bummer that Motoko Kusanagi is now Mara Killian because the movie looks absolutely gorgeous, as evidenced in this new clip, which takes its cues directly from an iconic scene in the original.
After nearly six months of writing about teasers, trailers, and rumors for Paramount Pictures’ live-action Ghost in the Shell film, I figured it was time to sit down and actually watch the original 1995 animated movie. And I am here to tell you that it cleared up nothing for me. I’ll admit, the animation, production design, and soundtrack are all as impressive as rumored — the manga’s influence on the Wachowski Sisters is pretty hard to ignore in hindsight — but one movie was not enough to clear up my confusion regarding the Ghost in the Shell characters and universe as a whole.
Ghost In The Shell is on a lot of people's minds right now, and while the upcoming Scarlett Johansson-starring Western cinematic adaptation is garnering its fair share of controversy it has made people re-evaluate and reappraise their love for Masamune Shirow's classic manga. To celebrate the series, Mondo has teamed up with Kodansha Comics and Gotham Academy and Southern Cross' Becky Cloonan for a pair of exclusive prints, timed to go on sale at some point today.
While I don’t typically pay attention to the box office tracking numbers for upcoming releases, I’ll admit, I’ve checked in a few times on Ghost in the Shell. The blend of intriguing trailers and negative publicity surrounding the film make it a tough cookie to crack; those who would normally be excited by the prospect of a blockbuster action movie starring a woman have good reason to stay at home, while the fans who might normally boost its box office numbers may be disappointed that Paramount is tinkering with a classic. As of right now, Ghost in the Shell is estimated to bring home about $105 million domestically, a very poor showing for a project of this size. I’m fascinated by the whole thing.
As a general rule of thumb, people should avoid watching movies in anything other than the original language. No matter how good a voice actor may be, a film loses a bit of its nuance and timing when the movements of the original actors no longer perfectly match up with their spoken words. It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but turning on subtitles allows you hear the full inflection of each actor without losing any of the dialogue or plot developments as they occur. There’s a reason film nerds get so cranky about dubbed versions of films.