By Ian Crow
Taking on one of the most adored anime movies and recreating it for the big screen is a huge task. Ghost in the Shell is known to be a favourite among many people including James Cameron. Known at the time for its visually pleasing look, Ghost in the Shell is a great animated movie, but does it work as a live-action feature? The first job they had was to get a big star involved and they bagged a great one in Scarlett Johansson. Recognized as the leading female in action movies, Johansson knows what she’s doing and provides a good performance as Major, a human that is saved from a car crash and transformed into a cyber-enhanced soldier. Her job is to take out some of the biggest criminals but along the way, the ghost within her shell tries to get answers from her past.
Starring alongside Johansson is Danish actor PIlou Asbaek, Asian legend Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche and Michael Pitt. A great variation of worldwide talent comes together in the film and they all provide solid performances in their roles. Maybe unknown outside of Japan, Takeshi Kitano makes a rare appearance in a ‘Western’ film and shows off his cool and relaxed aura as he does in his Japanese pictures. The best part about the cast in Ghost in the Shell is the mixture of talent that director Rupert Sanders has at his disposal. You have a handful of talented actors that can perform well emotionally on-screen, whereas on the other side you have actors that can perform action sequences very well, too. Having that balance really helps the film tick along nicely and keeps you entertained.
The man pulling the strings on the film is director Rupert Sanders. Personally this film would not have been as effective if it wasn’t for his vision and feel for the project. Ambitious is putting it lightly for his efforts to this movie. Sanders has managed to capture the essence of the original anime and breathe new life and bring it back to the big screen in a way you’ve never seen before. Ghost in the Shell being his second feature film, you have to say that this is by far and away his best effort yet. Clearly taking hints and tips from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, the city and landscapes look like a Scott film but to be honest, there’s nothing wrong with that. The British director makes every single inch of the film visually pleasing to the eye and it makes it impossible to take your eyes of it.
To up the film even more, composer Clint Mansell delivers an impressive score alongside that compliments the films tone perfectly. Keeping to his normal line of work, Mansell creates the perfect vibe that lifts the film and turns it into an extremely cool movie. The music’s personality resonates perfectly alongside the films setting and story line. Futuristic and atmospheric in its tone, Mansell manages to create a score that you can either close your eyes and relax to, or go jogging until you can’t run no more.
Refreshingly, it’s nice to watch a so-called blockbuster and see its running time shorter than two hours. The film does very well to set up the story and characters efficiently and effectively but it does seem to grind to a halt very quickly towards the end and suffers from a less than exciting finale. The rest of the film is great and I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect about the film but it does seem to drag a little towards the end which of course is fairly frustrating. Apart from the ending, Ghost in the Shell really shocked me. Expecting it to be a failure, they have proved me wrong massively and prove that it’s not impossible to remake a seemingly impossible and much-loved film. All round the movie is great, but for me the direction and the music are the key players and that’s what I loved most about Ghost in the Shell. 4 out of 5 stars.