Remakes seem to be inherently controversial these days and Ghost in the Shell is no exception. Undoubtedly, fans of Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 film and Masamune Shirow’s original manga will find it pointless. And it’s already been accused of whitewashing due to the decision to cast Scarlett Johanssen in the lead role rather than an Asian actor. Oshii himself, however, has already heaped praise on the movie and pointed out that as her character, Major Motoko Kusanagi, is a cyborg, the question of race could be considered a moot point from the start.
New vs old
Due to be released on 31 March, the movie is a live-action remake of Oshii’s well-loved animation and has been criticized by some as a “Hollywoodization” of the original. The original Ghost in the Machine explored complex ideas of sentience, imagining a world in which humans have become so close in nature to machines, to the point that they may have more in common with them than with each other. Major isn’t an AI but it’s a similar exploration of whether machines can become conscious in the way that we experience it as humans as we find in Ex Machina and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Humans and tech
Ghost in the Shell went further, however, exploring the very boundaries of human consciousness, imagining a world in which human individuality itself is virtually unknown, swept away by society’s increasing connectedness. It looked to a dark future in which humanity has begun to merge with technology, taking evolution into their own hands and perhaps losing some of what made them inherently human in the first place. The new movie, it seems, still appeals to a higher philosophical debate but seems to draw on a greater number of Hollywood tropes that one might perhaps want. Less revolutionary sci-fi, more Jason Bourne with cyborgs.
According to the synopsis provided by Paramount, Major was just saved from a horrific crash, saved and transformed into a cyber-enhanced soldier, designed to stop the world’s most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people’s minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that she has been lied to: her life was not saved, it was stolen. She will stop at nothing to recover her past, find out who did this to her and stop them before they do it to others.
The trailer has Major busting out some The Matrix-worthy parkour moves, crashing through the glass window of a skyscraper while surrounded by a hail of bullets: classic action movie stunts set in a sci-fi, steampunk-ish world. So far, the cinematography looks gorgeous, if familiar from similar movies such as Blade Runner and The Matrix (although with a distinctly 21st century update that sets it apart from its old school compatriots).
Here’s the final trailer below. Are you looking forward to Ghost in the Shell? Let us know!