Why is it so difficult to take a concept made for TV and translate it into a feature film? Ghost In The Shell adds to a long list of failed adaptations, following in the footsteps of Power Rangers and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Based on the anime series, Ghost in the Shell explores a near future where humans have developed technology that allows for cybernetic enhancements. From increasing vision capabilities, to a robotic liver that can withstand any amount of alcohol, the boundaries of this technology are pushed to the limit. Soon young woman the Major (Scarlett Johansson) wakes to find she has become the first human integrated A.I., with a mechanical body that has been fused with her human mind.
I wish I could say that Hollywood has done justice to the original anime series of Ghost in the Shell, but if I could describe the motion picture version in one word, it would be lacklustre. The film opts to focus heavily on the Major (rather than the variety of characters featured in the anime), which may have worked if not for Johansson’s flat performance. The whole point of the movie is to show that the Major is more than just a robot, and yet Johansson’s expression remains stone cold for the entirety of the film, making it very difficult to relate to her character. There’s been plenty of artificial intelligence based characters in films such as I, Robot and Aliens that have managed to show enough human emotion to allow us to care for them, but Johansson never brings any such warmth or charisma.
Backing up this dreary lead performance is a predictable and uneventful story where nothing of consequence ever really happens. Thankfully, a strong performance from Pilou Absaek as the Major’s partner Batou keeps the film from being completely unwatchable. The visual effects are also excellent in creating a realistic picture of our world thirty years from now. But overall, Ghost in the Shell is just another forgettable rehash of a great TV show.
Ghost in the Shell is available in Australian cinemas from March 29
Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures