Beautifully Bland

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A problem that seems prevalent in a world where the technology is advancing faster than people learning how to properly utilise it, is that you get absolutely beautiful films rich in colour, texture, and wonder that lack story, intensity, and gravitas. The films often fall flat having little impact on the audience. This is more and more the case especially with Sci-Fi films. These strange, fantastic worlds are created but they do not know what to do with them. This is the case with Ghost in the Shell.

Ghost in the Shell Poster 2017

In the future the line between human and machine begins to blur when scientists put a human brain in an android body. Major has been trained to deal swift, brutal punishment to those who break the law. But a new foe, who is always one step ahead, seems out of reach, and unravels a story that will change her world.

Ghost in the Shell is a live action remake of an anime film, that had an anime series, that was based on a manga. In that vein the movie should have been strange and spectacular. The visual elements to the film were wondrous. The futuristic landscape led to bright colours, strange sites, and interesting patterns. Each shot was a screen saver.

Ghost in the Shell Cityscape

Vibrant…

Ghost in the Shell Robot Geisha

…and very cool. As far as I can remember the visual aspects of the film stayed as true as possible to the animated version. But awesome visuals is not the only thing needed to tell a good story. All other aspects of the movie fell flat; script, acting, and direction.

Story wise, I can’t much compare this to the anime. I haven’t seen it in years and the minutia, the details of the story that would make a difference, are lost on me. But what I can say is that this story lacks oomph. Pizzazz. Energy. It lacked emotion and a connection with the audience. They seem to rely on the visuals to put the excitement in the story but the story is told and filmed so flatly that any kind of interest and wonderment are lost. The way the scenes are shot and cut does not evoke the correct reactions from the audience. There are fight scenes that do not provide an adrenaline rush to get people into the action. There are quiet, intense moments when there is a big reveal that lacks poignancy, weight.

The dialogue was pedestrian at best. It wasn’t overly clumsy but filled, mainly, with short, uninteresting phrases. There was also repetition, constantly reminding the audience about the “ghost in the shell”. We get it, its the name of the movie, move on. This was amplified by the mediocre acting.

They seemed so bored.

I wouldn’t call Scarlett Johansson a “bad” actress but she isn’t that great either and her style definitely does not work for her role as Major. I guess visually she works but her voice and her delivery are so…so…namby pamby. The feebleness of her articulation detracts from the power that Major has. Everyone in the movie seems to have fed off of that lacklustre energy. Even Juliette Binoche, who is known for her complex nuanced performances, sort of just phoned it in. I would say the best performance was by Takeshi Kitano. Every moment he was on screen was intense, interesting, drawing the audience in. He was mysterious but his intentions were clear. This was mostly conveyed with expressions and movement, he said few words. He had very little screen time however; I would have loved to have seen more of him. Then there was Pilou Asbaek who played Batou. He seemed much more complex and generally interesting than the main character.

Everything put together boiled down to a whole lot of meh. Some stuff flashed on the screen, some people shot some other people, then something got blown up…The credits rolled and I shrugged at what I saw. Ghost in the Shell just passes time. I think you would get more out of googling images from the film than actually watching it.

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