Thursday, March 30, 2017

Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell (1995)

The future is strange with robots and brain-hacking in the animated Ghost in the Shell. The film that sparked a life action update over twenty years later begins with Motoko Kusanagi jumping from a building to assassinate a diplomat. She put on a mission to hunt down a hacker known as the Puppet Master. She finds that this hacker is using garbage and other criminals through trickery and mind-hacking to do his bidding. Motoko also copes with her identity as a robot while still trying to do human things like scuba dive. The action of the chases seems pretty cool and I can only imagine what a live action adaption will look like.

The artwork in the animation is stunning capturing the look of a manga comic. The English dubbed version I purchased did have some weak voice-acting and an odd look common in these adaptations, which is why I usually try to see these things with subtitles. Questions of humanity and existence are brought up as the Puppet Master claims to be a sentient being with rights despite not having a sole body. Even Major Motoko isn't sure if she is a human with a body bought from a tech company and brain cells input into it. 

One thing I won't understand until I see it is how the live-action adaptation will be rated PG-13 and be like the cartoon because this version is pretty violent. Men's heads explode when shot and bodies split open and spray blood when attacked by the Puppet Master. The pursuit eventually brings the Major head on with a tank and several helicopters which didn't look great here but could be pretty cool to see in live action. Assisting the Major on the hunt is Batou, another manufactured human with metallic eyes who worries about Motoko's questions. 

Ghost in the Shell has pretty much been overcome with controversy and there hasn't been much discussion on the action or the plot. I do think the casting was wrong and the producers of future films should work to get this right as it seems unfaithful to the manga comics and the animated film. There appear to be plenty of other changes that seem to come across from the adaptation and I think the new film will have to be longer with more story and more detailed action scenes.

In the end, I wasn't sure what the plot came to and I think there will be this confusion in the new film as well. It becomes complicated as the Puppet Master is seeking representation as a sentient being and this theme seems lost on the new creators. I enjoyed seeing this story in its first intended version and will check out the new live-action version. I'm also curious about the sequel cartoon and if this movie will attempt to follow that as well. 

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