Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Please note: due to the ‘twist’ of the film being a common recurrence in the manga, anime movie adaption and now here, I will talk about it openly. So there are spoilers here.

Based on the manga, and by extension anime of the same name, Ghost in the Shell is a 2017 sci-fi/action movie directed by Rupert Sanders, whose only other major film release was 2012s Snow White and the Huntsman. Scarlett Johansson stars as Mira Killian, a Major in Section 9, a government group of cybernetic augmented anti-terrorism unit. Others in the bureau include Batou (Pilou Asbæk, Game of Thrones‘ Euron Greyjoy), Togusa (Chin Han, The Dark Knight) and the Chief Daisuke Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano), as they work alongside Major to stop the cyber terrorist Kuze (Michael Pitt), as Major attempts to learn more of her own past.

+ casting criticism aside, Johansson’s turn is strong as the Major. I never felt Major was out of place in Tokyo, and her personal story to discover her past, and who she was before her cybernetic enhancements, was compelling thanks to Johansson’s performance
+ the film looks great. Tokyo is bright and full of neon lights and advertisements, which immediately gives it a futuristic feel. The vehicles, buildings and civilian clothing all help add to this, and makes the film stand out as unique

The neon lights and building-sized advertisements make for a visually unique setting.

– the action is uninspired, and feel very ‘Hollywood by the numbers’, all leading to a boring, and frankly very small scale climax. The CGI of the primary antagonist (and or his stand in nudge nudge) are at times laughable, and felt very low budget
– the film has a boring, predictable plot which gives away it’s “twist” too early to maintain interest. The Section 9 organisation is treated more as a background framing device, and the secondary characters are never given the characterisation I would have liked, which takes away much of the drama of their personal
– related to the above, the secondary characters, such as Batou and Togusa, are severely underutilised. Some more scenes of them working as an actual unit (which, I know, is part of Major’s “lone wolf” style)

> honestly, the Caucasian-American Scarlett Johansson as Major (later revealed to be the Japanese woman “Motoko Kusanagi”) and the Caucasian-American Michael Pitt (later revealed to be the Japanese man “Hideo”) didn’t really bother me, considering that the point of the movie was that the ‘shells’ are irellevant in relation to the ‘ghosts’, aka the souls inside. I entirely understand why this was an issue, but it didn’t bother me much at all

Should you see this film: No. The casting criticism is irrelevant considering the movie is not all that good in the first place. There are some things that just don’t work in live-action adaptions -some comic books and most anime, at the forefront- and unfortunately this was another one. A cliched story and boring action make the ~90 minute run time feel like an eternity.



  1. Glad I read this. I was a huge fan of the anime and manga when it came out years ago – and had been looking forward to the movie. Oh well…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jonathan,

      This was obviously just my opinion, so I always encourage people to watch things they might like. But having said that, this really was a disappointment, coming from another fan of the original.


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