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Mon, June 24

‘Ghost in the Shell’ is a simple story, but worth it

I'll admit I'm a Scarlet Johansson fan. The original “Ghost in the Shell” was a Japanese anime that I haven't read nor seen. On the surface it's a simple story of “Major” Motoko Kusanagi (Johansson) in the distant future where people frequently can exchange human body parts such as legs, arms, eyes, etc., for much more capable robotic replacements. The story and characters are Japanese-based and there is some debate about Johansson playing the lead role instead of a Japanese actor. Other characters retain their Japanese origins and there is some Japanese spoken in the film, however without subtitles. When Johansson replies, she replies in English and you can figure out what the question by how she responds.

It's a simple story of whether we lose our humanity when we use technology to replace our human parts. Does a story need to retain its original environmental roots or can a good story be generalized to whatever environment the story is told in? Only the audience can answer that.

As for this story, there isn't a lot of character development. Johansson's character is very similar to her “Lucy” character – cold, detached and unemotional. It works in both stories, but she's in danger of being typecast.

Johansson's character is rescued from battle and entered into an experimental process where her brain is implanted into a robotic body. She's used in anti-terrorist activities and is directed to go after the biggest bad guy, Kuze (Michael Pitt). There's lots of cgi-based acrobatics and fight scenes. The city environment is crowded and filled with giant advertising images. Johansson's super abilities are believable until she crawls up walls like a spider. In that case, the cgi skips and the whole thing looks fake. There is some intrigue between the anti-terrorist agency and the medical group that created Major that is a subplot that comes to fruition once the conflict with Kuze is resolved.

Johansson's one strong ally, Batou (Pilou Asbaek), plays a minor but recurring and believable role as her only support. If you can skip past the philosophical questions of humanity and arguments about who should have played the lead role, you'll find this a simple story of a character overcoming a hurdle and resolving her issues. You'll come to care about Major and her story. The fight scenes, for the most part, are believable and entertaining.

It's rated PG-13 and runs about 100 minutes. Grab some popcorn and settle in for a decent future-based action film.

I'll give it 3 out of 4 Miners.


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