Ghost In The Shell (2017): A Serviceable Addition To The Sci-Fi Genre You Will Immediately Forget About As The Credits Roll (Review)

ghost in the shell geisha
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Ghost In The Shell, a title so great they had to include it twice during the opening credits, follows Major (Scarlett Johansson), a one-of-a-kind cyber-enhanced human designed to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. Based on the popular Japanese manga series and 1995 animated film, Ghost In The Shell also stars “Beat” Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han, Juliette Binoche and is directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White And The Huntsman)

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

Full disclosure: I am not intimately connected to anything Ghost In The Shell, whether it be the wickedly popular manga series or beloved 1995 film. I was only aware of the bare necessities of the story like Scarlett Johansson was going to play a cyber-enhanced AI in a cyber-punkian society. As a fan of Johansson and everything to do with the idea of artificial intelligence – Ex Machina was one of my favourite films of 2015 and Blade Runner is simply one of my favourites of all time – I was intrigued with GiTS and wanted to see how it contributes to the discussion. This film is interesting because I was aware of everything occurring on screen and I understood the stakes at play, I just wasn’t invested at all in anything.

The world was gorgeous looking and I love the aesthetics of the cyberpunk subgenre but it ultimately didn’t feel lived in. I interpreted it as the filmmakers knowing what was expected from the universe and including all the respective elements of it but neglecting to focus on the individuals who allegedly spend their day-to-day existence in this world. It ironically ended up feeling too artificial for me to become emotionally invested in anything on screen. Elaborate backstories for the secondary characters that inhabit the world aren’t necessarily needed as the primary focus is on Major and, to some extent, her partner in crime Batou (Asbæk). Their chemistry was nice and I enjoyed their scenes together because I felt like they were genuine friends, although I think that’s more of a testament to the respective actors’ charisma than their character (hmm.. Where have I mentioned that before?)

‘When X was revealed, I was just waiting for Y to happen so we could reach Z and call it a night’

The plot’s progression lingered on certain moments for much too long which caused a few issues with the pacing, however I was engaged overall with the pertinent plot points; as in when X was revealed, I was just waiting for Y to happen so we could reach Z and call it a night. Since I do thoroughly enjoy works that depict the various issues related to the idea of artificial intelligence, I loved the surprise inclusion of certain AIs and the dilemmas Major faced when confronted with certain revelations.

The revelations made were certainly interesting since I had relatively no idea where it was going to lead and I actually appreciated SPOILER a crucial component from the beginning of the film was addressed by the halfway point so what remained was the outcome of what I initially believed would be the focus of the entire film. END SPOILER

Scarlett Johansson’s Performance Is A Major Highlight

ghost in the shell scarlett major.jpg
Credit: Paramount Pictures


Look I’m not here to address the controversy surrounding the casting of Major as there are many more qualified individuals to illustrate their views on the issue. What I can do is judge how Johansson handled the character of the Major and her portrayal is actually one of my favourite aspects of the film. I can see why some may interpret her performance as wooden, however I viewed the restraint and emotionless of the Major as vital components of the character. If she showed an inordinate amount of emotion, it would take away from the overwhelmingly synthetic nature to her even though the film depicts the struggle with her human side attempting to find its way through the synthetic. Johansson unsurprisingly kicks major ass and there are some genuinely bad ass sequences I adored, I just wish there weren’t as many damn cuts. The mannerisms she had were also an incredible feature to the character; the way she walked and would turn her head illustrated her understanding of the minute details of the character and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance as a damn Synth.

fucking synth fallout 4 meme comic

How Were The Other Aspects To ‘Ghost In The Shell’?

The score of a film is an aspect I always pay attention to because it sets the mood for every scene and when it is executed correctly, it can enhance the greatness of a film tenfold. Ghost In The Shell was composed by Darren Aronofsky‘s frequent collaborator, Clint Mansell and although it isn’t one of his best works, it is enjoyable. Sanders’ direction wasn’t anything too special, there were a couple shots that maneuvered its way throughout the city that were nice to look at. The overuse of slow mo was so fucking tiresome, I don’t know why directors still continue to utilize this technique when nobody is asking for it and it became outdated when Zack Snyder popularized it in 2006.

ghost in the shell end credit title gif.gif
Credit: Paramount Pictures

If you’re looking for an in-depth intellectual focus on the idea of artificial intelligence, watch Ex Machina or Blade Runner. For a lesser version of the previously mentioned complete with action sequences and ScarJo kicking ass, check out Ghost In The Shell.

Ghost In The Shell receives 3/5 Matt Damon heads



  1. Nice review. From what I understand about the anime is that this film was a good adaptation on screen. I had issues with how vague parts of the film were, but apparently, the anime is very similar. I understand the criticism about choosing ScarJo as the title character, but if you look at some concept art for the character from the manga, Major looks very white/not Japanese. I don’t know. I’m always rooting for diversity, but it seems that those arguing against it didn’t really know the story behind this one.


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