Lac­quered but hol­low

Khaleej Times - City Times - - COVER -

The core premise of Ghost in the Shell has been done to death through­out cin­ema.

It be­gins on an in­cred­i­bly stylish note in a far-dis­tant fu­ture Ja­pan, where the line be­tween cy­ber­net­ics and hu­mans is begin­ning to blur. A hu­man brain is in­fused into a completely syn­thetic hu­manoid body, and what fol­lows is a fast-paced, ac­tion-packed drama.

Sim­ply in­ter­preted, it is the story of a woman called Mira Kil­lian (Scar­lett Jo­hans­son) who nearly perishes in a ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dent, but she is saved by Dr. Ouelet (Juli­ette Binoche) who in­serts her mind/soul or con­scious­ness into a ro­botic body and is used as a weapon or a per­fect sol­dier in a gov­ern­ment agency, to stop hack­ers and crim­i­nals around the city.

Mira as Ma­jor, along with her part­ner Ba­tou (Pilou As­baek) re­port to the mys­te­ri­ous and in­tim­i­dat­ing Ara­maki (Takeshi Ki­tano). They are on the hunt for a shad­owy killer Hideo Kuze (Michael Pitt), who is tar­get­ing sci­en­tists at Hanka, the or­ga­ni­za­tion where the Ma­jor was cre­ated.

Apart from this rou­tine bat­tle of ex­is­tence, how Ma­jor Mira Kil­lian yearns to learn about her past, forms the crux of this tale.

Di­rec­tor Ru­pert San­ders and screen­writ­ers Jamie Moss, Wil­liam Wheeler and Ehren Kruger seem far more con­cerned with paint­ing an en­chant­ing and de­tail-rich vi­sion of the fu­ture.

The vi­su­als are gor­geous and glossy, lay­ered with heavy com­puter-gen­er­ated images. Ev­ery space in the frame is cov­ered with holo­graphic images which are ex­cit­ing to look at, but do not add any grav­i­tas to the nar­ra­tive. The plot and the scenes are too con­vo­luted and com­plex. The story feels rushed, in­co­her­ent and fails to keep you hooked.

The dia­logues come off as very clunky, rais­ing big philo­soph­i­cal ques­tions that let slip at best, but re­duced to pa­tron­iz­ing at worst.

The per­for­mances lack soul. They are purely per­func­tory.

What’s worth men­tion­ing, how­ever, is the pro­duc­tion de­sign, es­pe­cially the ma­trix and the ro­bots.

Over­all, Ghost in the Shell is a vis­ually ar­rest­ing film that has it oc­ca­sional mo­ments of bril­liance in the ac­tion scenes, but fails to hold your at­ten­tion for long. Troy Ribeiro, IANS

Ghost in the Shell

Di­rec­tor: Ru­pert San­ders

Cast: Scar­lett Jo­hans­son, Juli­ette Binoche, Pilou As­baek, Takeshi Ki­tano, Michael Pitt and Chin Han

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