Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell ★★½

It's not really that good, but the [brief] moments where it gets ambitious (I'm mostly thinking the whole backstory/ white-wash justification -- which validated how little I gave a shit about the contraversey, or at least this contraversey in particular in contrast to the whole white washing practice as a whole -- and the somewhat commentary on sino-white relations, the transhuman prostitution scene, and the repurposed societal concepts, specifically the whole consent bit which is powerfully revealed to be meaningless) are so great, and I really wish it had a better director who understood subtlty, trusted his visuals and his audience, and didn't waste an hour reiterating the same basic philosophy ("Get it? Her soul is the ghost and her body is the shell!") So many wasted great ideas that are brought up and left unexplored.

Same goes for the cast. Scarlett Johannson is a bit underwhelming, especially after other great turns in similar roles which either contradict her inherent beauty, or use it as a standard to emphasize artifice (Lucy, Her, and Under the Skin). Beat Takeshi is always amazing, and it's nice to see him shown the respect he deserves in a moderation that keeps his every appearance welcome, but everybody else (Pilou Asbaek, Chin Han, the rest of the Section 9 squad, who as a concept is so cool in spite of the cliche) is severely underdeveloped -- yet another thing that could've been fixed had less time been spent explaining away explained concepts.

Rework the pedantic and heavyhanded script, which botches the pacing and leaves the editing incongruous and just weird, and this could've been great! The visuals are fantastic, but it all feels so hollow (I can't avoid this) and unmotivated by anything but a desire to (I hate cheap comparisons but)- mimic Blade Runner.

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