‘Ghost In The Shell’ Review: Plenty Of Style, Not So Much Substance

'Ghost In The Shell' Review Plenty Of Style, Not So Much Substance Scarlett Johansson

Ghost In The Shell is a new 2017 film based on an original manga series of the same name. The film is based in the near future and stars Scarlett Johansson as ‘Major’, a woman saved from an almost fatal accident, she is one of the first examples of a robot with a human brain. Johansson’s character searches for clues to a past she has forgotten whilst dealing with the threats of a world where the lines between human and technology are starting to heavily blur.

What Went Well in Ghost In The Shell?

'Ghost In The Shell' Review Plenty Of Style, Not So Much Substance Major Face Removed

First of all, let me say that I relatively enjoyed Ghost In The Shell. At the start, I honestly felt swept away into the immersive world that was created onscreen. The futuristic cityscapes and locations really created a whole new urban environment which felt as though it could have been lifted out of a illustrated novel. It was abundantly clear that the CGI and design that went into Ghost In The Shell was planned to the detailed minutia. This film certainly packs a punch when it comes to its visual style.

A Little Lacking In Substance

'Ghost In The Shell' Review: Plenty Of Style, Not So Much Substance

However, despite the awesome environment in which Ghost In The Shell played out. For me, some of the plot and storylines felt a little lacklustre. Nothing felt very fresh in a world where it felt that anything could happen. Plot devices and storyline progression often felt clunky and shallow. Characters lacked development, revelations often fell flat and the film fell into the same clichés as any other action flick. Here are the main parts which made me sigh in despair:

  • Cliché #1 – The new robot cyborg isn’t comfortable in their own skin which, in turn, over-references the film title. If they didn’t reference the ‘ghost in a shell’ analogy once they mentioned in hundreds of times. The whole mind/body analogy is not a particularly novel concept, although we know now that Major just feels like a ghost… in a shell.
  • Cliché #2 – The actual villain (spoilers!) wasn’t the dark and mysterious vengeful test subject, but was, in fact, your run-of-the-mill evil secret service man looking to weaponize Major’s technology. He wasn’t much of a threat and fell easily (into a well-placed pond), classic villain.
  • Cliché #3 – Whilst searching for secrets of your past, the kind old lady who has a missing daughter and serves you tea may actually be your mother. One of the few facts she tells you about her lost child may lead you on to discover the secrets behind everything, how helpful.

I know I’m sounding particularly sceptical here, but you’d hope from more originality from a film that feels so… original! The main thing that bugged me was the ominous feeling of a franchise that started to loom during the second half. Things started to look pretty interesting, but of course, this can easily be saved for a sequel. The film only has a 100 minute or so runtime, and I think it could easily have had an extra thrown on top of that. It would certainly have allowed for more plot development and story growth.

I really wanted to like Ghost In The Shell, as I feel that it could have easily had it all. Whilst I love the aesthetic and the feel of the film (and the Geisha-bot scene, that was awesome), the story suffered, which really let the film down. You can tell the film is a high-budget CGI flick, so I’d say its (kind of) worth heading to the cinema for. I would certainly watch a sequel when it inevitably appears, so that’s saying something. Just with all the pretty special effect, it felt kind of empty inside without a strong plot to back it up. You could almost say it’s like a ghost… in a shell (sorry couldn’t resist!).


What did you think of Ghost In The Shell? Critics and box office figures seem to be slating this new 2017 film, is this all because of the white-washing accusations? Let me know what you think the comments below!

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7 responses to “‘Ghost In The Shell’ Review: Plenty Of Style, Not So Much Substance

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