Ghost in the Shell ★★★

Ostensibly based on the 1995 Japanese animation, but actually just another adaptation of Masumune Shirow’s 1989 science fiction manga, Ghost in the Shell falls victim to the same problem Disney’s John Carter (2012) encountered: when you belatedly adapt influential but vintage material, new audiences ignorant of the history think it’s outmoded. But while the original Ghost in the Shell famously inspired the style and design of The Matrix (1999) and had a vocal champion in James Cameron (who tweaked the concept of putting souls, or “ghosts”, into aliens instead of robots for Avatar), it’s worth remembering that the comic itself owed a debt to Blade Runner (1982) and RoboCop (1987). We’re now lost in a feedback loop between East and West…

Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) was given the enormous task of bringing this geek favourite to live-action, and he’s a decent choice in terms of handling the visual complexity. His background is with high-end commercials, so perhaps someone thinks he’s the next Ridley Scott in terms of bringing an artistic eye to projects. Ghost in the Shell’s future city with its neon-soaked skyscrapers and holographic advertisements strongly evoke the universe of Scott’s Blade Runner, with a little of Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report (2002) thrown in for good measure. Both movies adapting Philip K. Dick stories, interestingly. You can’t escape the fact Ghost in the Shell (hereafter GiTS) is a melange of ideas, perched on the shoulders of giants.

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