A SOULFUL HUMANOID ROBOT │ GHOST IN THE SHELL (2017) (SPOILER ALERT!!!)

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Theatrical Release Poster; cr: IMDb

Aplenty of skyscraper buildings. Neon lights are everywhere, embellishing the buildings and the streets. Some buildings are running the high-definition hologram advertisements. The population of robots have the same appearance as the population of real humans, even the total of the real ones are actually outnumbered by the total of robots. And the cutest part is when a group of geisha robots suddenly turn into geisha-like spider robots. Those are the visualizations I got from a movie which is directed by Rupert Sanders (known for directing Snow White and the Huntsman) and had the anime version since 1995, which is directed by Mamoru Oshī.

With the time setting of Japan’s advanced technology era–located in Hong Kong–Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson) must accept the situation after the boat which she rode with her parent was destroyed by the terrorists and caused a big damage to her body (except her brain), also her parent’s death. And by the world’s leading developer of augmentative technology Hanka Robotics, Mira’s body is submitted to Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche) to create a new mechanical body called ‘shell’. This body is a Hanka Robotics’ secret project and can be worked if the body is connected to the human brain. And such an unexpected event that Mira is the only one of her kind who successes this secret project. Why? It is believed that Mira still has the ‘ghost’ in herself or in other word, it is a human soul.

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‘Major’ Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson), cr: IMDb

A year later, Mira has attained a new rank ‘Major’ and placed in Section 9, a group who is led by Daisuke Aramaki (‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano). One night, Section 9 gets a mission to thwart a terrorists attack on a Hanka Robotics business conference in a hotel. But when Mira destroys the geisha robots–which have turned into geisha-like spider robots for some reasons–one of them leaves an odd voice message.

 “Collaborate with Hanka Robotics and be destroyed.”

A big question appears in Section 9 about where does the voice message come from and what is the meaning of it. But, it can be solved quickly after one member named Togusa (Chin Han) finds out who is the culprit with his augmentative technology, and he is a hacker named Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt). And by Aramaki, Mira with her very close partner Batou (Pilou Asbæk) go to the Hanka Robotics and visit Dr. Dahlin (Anamaria Marinca) about her findings from a hacked geisha robot. After knowing that the findings are not as much as expected, Mira braves herself to do the ‘Deep Dive’ into a hacked geisha robot for finding out an answer about Kuze’s whereabouts–even in the end she is also hacked by Kuze.

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(l-r): Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt) & ‘Major’ Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson), cr: IMDb

On her effort in finding Kuze’s whereabouts, Mira always gets haunted by her past or in her word is ‘glitches’, yet she tries to ignore it. And while the story is ongoing, Kuze tells the truths when the both of them meet and makes Mira remembering clearly about her past. This takes her to the death of the scientist team in Hanka Robotics (including Doctor Ouelet who is revealing the real truth of Mira’s past), also her little reunion with her mother and his brother Hideo (whom surprisingly is Kuze himself).

I must say that I’m not a big fan of old animes, but this movie–adapted from a manga by Masamune Shirō–catches my attention. Why? Because this movie will take the audiences into the Japan’s future atmosphere, both in terms of city and lifestyle. The other reason is I really love anime, so if the Hollywood movie teams want to make a live-action movie from a/an manga/anime adaptation, they must make it very well and touching otherwise fans from around the world will not respect it. I like the story personally, but sadly I don’t really like with the character development from each characters.

I’m expecting Mira to be a strong and emotional character–as depicted in the story–but it turns out 180 degrees. She is so expressionless–and the way she does ‘it’ is clearly forced (maybe this is how they depicting Mira). Not to mention, Mira’s action scenes in this movie are in counts than Mira’s chit-chatting scenes with Section 9 members (especially with her close-partner Batou). Whereas in Marvel movies, there are countless of Black Widow’s action scenes than chit-chatting scenes with her teammates–that does not go for The Avengers: Age of Ultron, more chit-chatting scenes there and it makes me queasy.

Below Mira are the auxiliary characters that for me are not very important and/or leave us some imposed impressions. The first one is Mira’s close-partner, Batou. Though he is depicted as caring person towards Mira (and his fellow Section 9 members), he’s just the same as Mira, expressionless and clearly forced in some scenes. One of them is when he expresses his longing towards Mira (with mind-com) while on their mission in a yakuza pub to search Kuze’s whereabouts.

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(l-r): Daisuke Aramaki (‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano) & Cutter (Peter Ferdinando), cr: IMDb

Then, there is this Section 9 leader named Aramaki–the only character who uses the real Japanese actor. At first, there is nothing wrong with him until he successfully creates an ambiguous. He is the only Japanese speaker in the movie while the others speak English–especially the figures from Japan (and one of them is Kaori Momoi who plays Mira’s mother). With such a positive thinking, I started to think that in that time, translator devices have been highly developed from I expected, so the Non-Japanese people will unnecessary speak Japanese. Since in this movie the most casts are from Hollywood, so yeah…

Last is Kuze who appears to be the most tiresome character in the movie. Aside from his way of toneless speaking, he doesn’t have a soul (including emotion) like a robot–and that truly makes me sleepy. That goes the same when he is told to express as if imposed and it makes me want to puke.

In addition of liking the story, I also like the visualizations. Though the movie takes place in Hong Kong, I like how the team depicts the atmosphere of the future in Japan. The city which is very identical for the skyscraper buildings, coupled with a thousand of lights, making it very future-like. But the most interesting thing from this movie is the high-definition hologram advertisements–and they run them without projector screens. I don’t know why I like these, but I’m expecting these to happen in the next ten years. Hihi…

Overall, the movie is quite good. But because of the not-so strong enough at the character development from each characters, the movie quality should decrease. Oh and by the way, it feels awkward for me if the Asian fiction characters are played by Hollywood actors/actress. Why? To me personally, it is very difficult to fathom into these characters. They are so unpredictable and (sometimes) full of emotions. That is why all Asian actors/actress are really appreciating their own character and trying to play it well. No offense because that is my opinion.

 

Ps: I know it’s pretty late… but that’s okay (also forgive my grammars)

 

Movie Title: Ghost in the Shell (2017) │ Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller │ Adaptation: Ghost in the Shell (manga by Masamune Shirō) │ Director: Rupert Sanders │ Producer: Avi Arad, Ari Arad, Steven Paul, Michael Costigan │ Screenplay: Jamie Moss, William Wheeler, Ehren Kruger │ Composer: Clint Mansell, Lorne Balfe │ Cinematography: Jess Hall │ Editor: Neil Smith, Billy Rich │ Production Company: DreamWorks Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, Arad Production, Shanghai Film Group Corporation, Huahua Media │ Country: The Unites States │ Language: English, Japanese │ Cast: Scarlet Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, ‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche, Michael Carmen Pitt, Chin Han, Danusia Samal, Peter Ferdinando, Anamaria Marinca, Kaori Yamamoto, Andrew Morris, Kaori Momoi, Michael Wincott, Rila Fukushima │ Release Date: March 16, 2017 (Shinjuku, Japan); March 31, 2017 (The U.S.) │ Running Time: 107 minutes │ Rating: PG-13 │ Score: 2.0/5.0