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Review: Ghost in the Shell


A stunningly beautiful dive into humanity’s dark future with cyborg implants and upgrades, skyscraper high advertisements and incredibly frightening half human half machine – cyber terrorists.

Ghost in the Shell is effectively a dark futuristic crime thriller that follows the Character of Major, who is an all robot body with the brain of a human being. She’s an elite counter-terrorist working for a crew called section 9 an elite group formed by murky mix of Hanka robotics the company responsible for Major, and the Government, Aramaki the the head of section 9, an enigmatic leader who seems to of seen it all before.

Major’s team are relatively interesting but not particularly explored in depth, except for Major’s Partner Batou, who’s a relatively interesting character who ventures further from simply musclebound hard ass. He’s got a more soulful human bent.

Now the film is an obviously an adaptation of the wildly successful and groundbreaking 1995 anime original. And in a way beautifully realises that original vision, the post-human cyber punk future of hong kong is seen in all it’s neon glory, seeing this film in 3D is a visual feast. And on those grounds i highly recommend it. It also borrows heavily from Ridley Scott’s Classic Blade Runner, the gritty apocalyptic visuals and noir dreariness set a very nervous and eerie tone undercut but the superficial beauty of neons splashing across all surfaces, murky or otherwise.

But where the previous two films explore the intersection of human and machine, meditating on what it is to be alive and indeed what it is to be human, and if that is actually worth anything at all – this film instead opts for a broader appeal, dealing less on introspection and instead plenty, of visuals action and strong acting from Scarlett Johansson.

This isn’t to say that it doesn’t explore important themes, it delves into memory and what that means and how that makes you human but in my opinion not as well or as deep. Which is a shame, given our current techno-political climate and all the ramifications of transhumanism in the future.

Ghost in The Shell, goes in guns blazing and maintains that pace throughout, rarely coming up for air. The opening scene has Major dive off a building into a room and pull of some matrix-esque moves before blowing up and neutralising the threat of rogue robots, killing humans and hacking into their brains via their modifications, which make them just as vulnerable as it makes them stronger.

Ghost in the Shell is well acted, the action enthralling, it’s biggest selling point is the visuals. And these are great, stunning even. But I don’t think it’ll see the film last, perhaps in much the same way we now view avatar, from afar, with the novelty less bright. We will to this film, But if this is the beginning of a franchise then so be it, the story is tight the themes dark, the hero interesting. Viewed on it’s own terms, Ghost in the shell is a thrilling watch in for the action fan.

Written by Matthew Toohey

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