Movies

Youth Street News - - Content - She­lina Loitong­bam

YSN: 7.1 IMDB: 6.7 Du­ra­tion: 1h 47min Genre: Ac­tion, Crime, Drama Re­lease: 31 March 2017

For those who have been watch­ing the anime, it is much clear that in the near fu­ture, Ma­jor is the first of her kind: A hu­man saved from a ter­ri­ble crash, who is cy­ber-en­hanced to be a per­fect sol­dier de­voted to stop­ping the world's most dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals. Now that there's a movie en­crypted, how do you im­prove on one of the great­est anime films ever made?

The ground­break­ing 1995 orig­i­nal Ghost in the Shell, di­rected by Mamoru Oshii and based on a manga se­ries by Masamuneshi­row, was a mas­ter­piece. Its in­flu­ence was far-reach­ing­most no­tably on The Ma­trix. But Ghost in the Shell was a chal­leng­ing watch. For ev­ery shot of a gen­er­ously breasted naked cy­borg plum­met­ing from the top of a build­ing, there was a scene in which char­ac­ters grap­pled with knotty philo­soph­i­cal ques­tions. What is the na­ture of iden­tity when the brain is souped up with cy­ber-im­plants and the soul is re­duced to a se­ries of elec­tri­cal im­pulses? (In­ci­den­tally, the ques­tion of why a cy­borg would need a gi­gan­tic pair of knock­ers in the first place was left unan­swered.

The cere­bral el­e­ment and the lan­guid pac­ing ini­tially scared off the non-ja­panese au­di­ence. The film's cult suc­cess came later, with the video re­lease and slow-build­ing word of mouth. That's not a route this live-ac­tion Hol­ly­wood re­make can af­ford to take. To this end, di­rec­tor Ru­pert San­ders has di­alled down the in­tro­spec­tion, beefed up the ac­tion and tweaked the enig­matic plot with a Wolver­ine-style ori­gins story that sees aug­mented cy­ber­netic cop Ma­jor Mo­toko Ku­sanagi (Scar­lett Jo­hans­son, a con­tro­ver­sial piece of cast­ing that drew ac­cu­sa­tions of "white­wash­ing" a Ja­panese char­ac­ter) delv­ing into her own mem­ory to learn the truth about her cre­ation.

The re­sult may be a more con­ven­tional film, but it's also a more ac­ces­si­ble one. And, cru­cially, it's not so dumbed down that it loses

the ghost of the orig­i­nal's chilly techno-dread. Jo­hans­son dives deep into a tricky role, a char­ac­ter who is as much a sen­tient weapon as she is a hu­man con­scious­ness. The Dan­ish ac­tor Pilouas­bæk is a solid pres­ence as the Ma­jor's part­ner, Ba­tou, de­liv­er­ing an un­ex­pect­edly soul­ful turn for a mus­cle-bound lunk with metal eyes.

The main sell­ing point here is the film's breath­tak­ing vis­ual im­pact. Ref­er­ences in­clude ev­ery­thing from Blade Run­ner to Chris Cun­ning­ham's mu­sic video for Björk's All Is Full of Love. But most of all, San­ders pays trib­ute to the orig­i­nal anime. Both take Hong Kong as in­spi­ra­tion, but loom­ing over this tech­notropo­lis are gi­ant holo­graphic fig­ures, as im­pos­ing as gods, ex­tort­ing the peo­ple below to buy a life­style. Peel back the neon and ar­ti­fice and there is a maze of can­cer­ous con­crete, cy­borg chop shops and street deal­ers ped­dling im­plant up­grades. It's a thrillingly sor­did world; I can't wait to re­visit.

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