Ghost In The Shell Review
If cinema was a Chinese Zodiac, then this year would be the sign of the sci-fi blockbuster.
Alien, Star Wars and – most intriguingly – Blade Runner are all making what will hopefully be welcome returns to the big screen.
And kicking off this season of sci-fi is the Rupert Sanders directed Ghost In The Shell.
We begin with a Scarlett Johansson shaped cyborg called Major being brought to life in some sterile scientific laboratory, only this machine has a little more soul than others.
Literally in the case of Major, as the soul of a young woman who was rescued from a terrorist attack has been transplanted from her dying mortal coil and placed inside a perfectly formed liquid metal shell.
Major is the first of her kind and the titular ghost of this mechanical shell, even if she doesn’t have any nipples.
Which we’ll come back to later.
Predictably enough, Major turns out to be a military experiment, and her duty is leading a crack team of humans on secret agent style missions designed to safeguard the presiding status quo, as well as her maker and employer, Hanka Precision Instruments.
This being sci-fi, nothing is quite as it seems and it’s not long before Major is calling ground control about some problems she’s having with visual glitches in her matrix.
Of course, such issues may be lost like synthetic tears in the rain when Major comes face to face with an enemy who seems to know far more about her shadowy past than she does.
I’ve never read the manga comic nor seen the anime film of the same name, but I’d wager neither of them look or sound as good as Sanders’ Ghost In The Shell.
Borrowing heavily from Blade Runner, the spectacular visuals created for this film make the most of cinemas’ big screen and 3D technology, while Clint Mansell of Drive fame produces another gorgeous electronic score to complete the sensory experience.
The title of best special effect, however, goes to Scarlett Johansson, who seems to spend half of Ghost In The Shell either undressed or getting undressed for no apparent reason.
There’s no explanation for why she suddenly becomes naked just before embarking on a mission, which happens a lot, and I can’t fathom any good reason for this either… but seeing as she doesn’t have any nipples, I guess it’s just good science fiction.
The plot can’t live up to the way Ghost In The Shell looks and sounds either, and if you’re familiar with the genre you won’t be surprised by many of the twists that are thrown your way.
But I don’t mind this too much – television has long overtaken cinema as a superior vessel for storytelling, so it makes sense that film should focus on the big screen impact it can have on an audience.
There, Ghost In The Shell doesn’t disappoint.
And as a fan of science fiction, I’m taking that as a good sign of things to come.