There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the remake of Ghost In The Shell ever since production first began. The casting of Scarlett Johansson as the lead character especially sparked a lot of debate, highlighting the problem with Hollywood, its whitewashing of characters and a lack of opportunities for Asian American actors.
With all of this going on there was one question that hasn’t been asked – would the film actually be any good? Well, MyM Buzz was invited to an exclusive preview of the film’s first 15 minutes, and we’ve got the answers for you right here.
Fair warning, spoilers lie ahead.
With Major in critical condition following an unknown incident, the film opens with the creation of her cybernetic body. In a revamped take on the opening of Mamoru Oshii’s anime, the Major is built from scratch from robotic frame to human-like cyborg. While it doesn’t feature music as chilling as Kenji Kawai’s score the song in this scene still works well with the whole process, and helps one sequence flow naturally into the next. Once Major wakes up in her new body we are introduced to Juliette Binoche’s Dr Ouelet, she’s comforting at first but it’s clear that there’s something hidden beneath the surface, especially when she discusses Major’s status as a weapon for Section 9 with another character.
The film then moves forward by one year; technology has advanced exponentially and the city is aglow with holograms advertising the latest products. The Major is now the head of Section 9; she stands atop a building searching for the source of a potential cyber terror attack while a dinner takes place between an ambassador and the head of a leading robotics company.
Scanning the area to find out where the attack will happen she starts to talk with Daisuke Aramaki, a character played by Takeshi Kitano and is our first look at his role.
They discuss the potential moves they can take, her speaking in English and him speaking in Japanese. It’s a little jarring that they speak to each other like this, since it’s not immediately clear that Major understands Japanese, but this is quickly explained when the head of the robotics firm tells a story of his daughter becoming fluent in French in a matter of minutes.
After realising where the attack will be, and with back-up too far away, Major decides to go in on her own – taking off her coat and using her therm-optic camouflage to make herself invisible before jumping into action. This, of course, is one of the most famous scenes in the original anime, and fans will be happy to know that the scene is executed well.
One thing that did stand out in the preview was the quality of the special effects, particularly when it comes to the robot geisha that attack the ambassador and the head of the robotics company. They seem so realistic and are so well-designed that they pretty much steal the show throughout the preview. They also seem to play a key role in the Major’s conflict over what it means to be human, which was an interesting touch.
Fans of the original film will notice a lot of similarities between the anime and the first 15 minutes of the American remake. Not only is it visually similar but the storyline of the anime can still be felt here. There are looks and whispers, mentions of whether a robot or ghost can be considered the same as a human, all of which hint at the inner conflict Major had in the classic anime. There’s even a brief glimpse at the Puppet Master’s role in raising these questions, so it’ll be interesting to see how alike the two films end up being.
While it was only a short preview the footage that was presented does seem to be good, at least in terms of the graphics. The story, for the most part, is the same as the original film so it is yet to be seen where the film will diverge from its source content. So far, though, not bad.
By Roxy Simons