Based on the internationally-acclaimed sci-fi manga original that had an anime adaptation in 1995, ‘Ghost in the Shell’ has an intricately woven hybrid digitized shell that is likely to catch the eye but there’s nothing worth digging for in here.
Major Mira (Scarlett Johansson), a one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid created by Hanka Robotics’ advancements in cyber technology, leads the elite task force Section 9, devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists. Her mind was rescued and placed in an artificial body( that’s where you get the title from), a first that gives Hanka supremacy over its competition in the field of cybernetics. But there’s a subversive history behind all that success – which obviously is waiting to rear its ugly head.
The future has been well imagined with cyborgs, humanoids, humans co-existing in a world that allows for great abilities. Technicians/surgeons wear blood colored uniforms (astronaut suits) and robots are as much a part of the ‘live’ ecosystem as the rest of the cybernetics enhanced (in varying degrees) population. When Mira rips the hatch off a tank, her skin and bones crack and we see the mechanical sinew underneath her shell like human exterior. Gigantic Holographic advertisements glitter all across the city’s landscape. The visuals are no doubt delightful but there’s nothing else there to keep you interested. Director Rupert Sanders’ visual flair is evident in the visual architecture and action dynamics. The visual effects sequences are masterful – and there are quite a slew of richly enhanced visuals that look breathtaking. Cinematographer Jess Hall works hard to enhance the mood and moments here with a color palette that underlines the sullen moodiness engulfing this largely impregnable sci-fi fantasy. For Scarlett, this outing is not much different from either of her other kick-ass sci-fi turns – be it ‘Lucy’ or ‘Under the Skin’. Pilou Asbæk as Batou, Mira’s friend and protector, leaves enough of an impression and Juliette Binoche as Dr. Ouelet, Mira’s creator, gives the film some badly needed humanistic moments. The problem with this film is not the choice of actors but the fact that it’s overwhelmingly flashy slickness renders everything else almost inanimate.