For Reel

Ghost in the Shell (2017)
August 13, 2017, 12:28 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Rupert Sanders
3 Stars
Ghost in the ShellMamoru Oshii’s anime adaptation of Ghost in the Shell is among the crucial turning points of science fiction in the past few decades. In considering what it means to be a sentient in a world in which the line between human and machine is blurred, the film anticipated the genre’s posthuman philosophical considerations of the new millennium, as well as the cool, detached cyberpunk aesthetic often credited to The Matrix. This new adaptation largely abandons considerations of sentience in favor of a typical corporate conspiracy plot, but it just might find itself similarly studied in the near future. Scarlet Johansson’s casting was a significant point of controversy, but it’s actually the basis of the film’s most interesting idea—a late plot twist reveals that her body is a host for a Japanese woman’s consciousness, provoking considerations into globalization and the implications of the actresses’ fetishized porcelain skin. On aesthetic grounds, the film’s 3D billboards, inventive cybernetic enhancements, and the strikingly symmetrical framings set a new visual benchmark for the genre. If the film is largely a mess—the performances are all over the map and the corporate plot feels outdated in comparison to the more immediate considerations of national identity—its most interesting elements just might be worth revisiting years down the line.

Ghost in the Shell (1995)
April 3, 2011, 11:52 am
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Director: Mamoru Oshii

A breakthrough anime film for American audiences, Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell remains a visionary transhumanist effort that deeply challenges its viewers through the density of the plot and its conceptually abstract ruminations. In a future world in which humans and cyborgs coexist, a supercomputer known as The Puppet Master gains consciousness and navigates the informational sea without restriction. As difficult as it is to gain footing when first entering this wholly unique world, the film is nonetheless successful as a visual spectacle with moody lighting and a number of impressively staged action sequences. Most memorable about the picture is its often nude protagonist, Major Motoko Kusanagi, whose empowerment is largely unparalleled by most female characters in American film.