Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell ★★★½

Finally caught this before it left theaters and I was the only one in the theater.

Better than I expected. The first 45 minutes were mesmerizing. A visual-audio treat...without question. The atmosphere and world building are top class. The film's misfire is its decision to focus strictly on character, specifically the Major's backstory. Like J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, the philosophical ideas and sci-fi concepts are all put on the back burner, while instead trying to appeal to a wide audience through character development. I would've forgiven the film, if the character origin was at least well-executed. Its resolution was unsatisfying despite the script desperately trying to make it so.

Johansson & Co. performed well. Pilou Asbaek was great as Batou. Takeshi Kitano and Michael Pitt were also very good. Juliette Binoche, however, was not necessarily bad, but definitely poorly directed. In every scene, her character was on the verge of tears, as if the audience is being told that she is the only real human in the film and should act accordingly. That decision is all on the director.

I could see this film be appreciated more by those who aren't familiar with the manga or anime. But as a fan, I could only admire the visual design and action sequences. Then, only yearn for the big sci-fi ideas, political intrigue and social themes that the anime films and series brilliantly showcased.

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