BY ZOEY SMITH:
A part of me feels obligated to be enraged by Rupert Sander’s new, mostly-Americanized Ghost in the Shell remake. I can’t shake the feeling that I SHOULD be enraged at this whole endeavor, this is cold, vapid, flashy film. BUT honestly, and I’m shocked at how ho-hum this whole affair turned out to be. Hardly anything in this film reeks of out-right terrible-less-ness; apart from the casting mistakes made during pre- production, bad-movie-lovers are in for just as much disappointment as those with high expectations; only those of us in the middle are going to have any kind of fun.
Speaking of fun, it’s refreshing that the original film’s stylish Eastern cyberpunk look and feel are the best part of this package; the setting is striking and beautiful, the world is an exceptionally well crafted, and the action scenes are flashy as ever. It’s just a shame that nothing else offered here really measures up to the eye-candy. The plot retains the cold, over-complicated cyberpunk trappings of the original, but with an over-simplified core and drastically reworked main storyline (also there is a noticeable lack of exposition-dumps and heavy philosophical monologues). The plot is a predictable trek through exhausted sci-fi beats at best, with the super solider Major (played by Johansson) investigating a connected trail of murders while also aiming to uncover mysteries of her hidden past. As she slowly beings to unravel the layers of conspiracy at work, one can’t help but feel that this is all fairly rote and predictable, despite the film trying really hard to get you involved in its characters (something the original film was disinterested in doing).
Oh, and I guess we’re going to talk about the casting decisions now? Look, there’s no easy way to go about it; diversity in cinemas has been an ongoing movement within Hollywood and popular culture, and this film’s decision to cast a white woman as the lead character of a film whose cultural influence is undeniable, it’s just heartbreaking to see that the original’s heritage is deemed as being a detriment to the film’s success. YES, the director’s argument that Johansson’s involvement was the instrumental piece that completed the “how do we get this made” puzzle isn’t moot. But in this particular case, it’s easy to conclude from a distance that the politics of Hollywood have leaned in favor of those who believed Johansson would get people in cinemas, and this film is now what we got. Personally, as a person who deeply believes in the importance of representation and diversity, I feel like the casting here was a huge missed opportunity. (As a side note, it is worth pointing out that the film has a vast amount of representation with its supporting characters, which I feel is worth pointing out).
To be perfectly honest, this whole movie is a missed opportunity. The spectacle is appreciated, but it alone can’t save this underwhelming film.