Reboot has Major issues
When news breaks that even seminal sci-fi classic The Matrix is getting the reboot treatment, it’s pretty clear that nothing is sacred when it comes to the Hollywood recycling programme.
We shouldn’t be surprised, then, to see influential British-Japanese anime Ghost in the Shell given a second cinematic treatment – although at least they waited 22 years and have turned it into a live-action blockbuster.
Scarlett Johansson takes on the iconic role of Major, a cyber-enhanced human created to be the perfect soldier out to find the truth surrounding her past.
Johansson is no stranger to sci-fi in recent years, leading the way in the overrated Lucy and Under the Skin, and, like those flicks, Ghost in the Shell is visually stunning but sorely lacking in heart.
The 32-year-old is well-suited to this type of material as she has an otherworldly quality to her, and she gets to display the a**-kicking skills learned when teaming up with the Avengers.
Major is an intriguing lead character but given her robotic enhancements, she’s a much colder heroine than, say, Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen or Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley.
This translates better in animated form and we shouldn’t really be surprised to discover that, in general, Ghost in the Shell is inferior to its predecessor.
Rupert Sanders only has the average Snow White and the Huntsman on his directorial back catalogue and like that adventure, his sophomore effort’s biggest strength is its aesthetic style.
While taking nods from genre masterpieces Blade Runner and The Matrix, Sanders adds a delicious eye for detail in creating neon-tinted cityscapes, invisibility suits and gadgets that would leave James Bond scratching his head.
Fans of the anime will also be pleased to see one of it most iconic moments – Major diving from a towering skyscraper – is recreated perfectly.
Colourful supporting characters help to enhance proceedings, including legendary Japanese actor-director Takeshi Kitano’s – starring in only his third American film – unit chief Aramaki and a crazed Michael Carmen Pitt’s hacker Kuze.
But writers William Wheeler (The Hoax) and Jamie Moss’ (Street Kings) screenplay struggles to effectively get across the rich themes and underlying messages found in the original.
It’s hard to care too much about characters this stern and reserved and even if you haven’t seen the animation, as long as you have sat through a few of the genre’s best you’ll know exactly where the story is headed long before Major does.
Ghost in the Shell 2017 won’t haunt you for days like its two-decades older sibling, but it’s a sizeable upgrade for Londoner Sanders, and Johansson proves once again that she’s the modern day sci-fi queen.
Cyber queen Scarlett Johansson is gunning for a relentless enemy