Tuesday, April 11, 2017

REVIEW: "Ghost in the Shell" is a visual masterpiece but nothing much else.

Ghost In The Shell Review
Here are my thoughts on "Ghost In The Shell" a movie based on the 1995 Japanese anime movie. Its been a film riddled in controversy ever since its release. Yes, I get it, people get up in arms because they cast a big-name white actress to be the lead instead of an Asian actress. I am not going to get into this debate. It really didn't have a huge impact on the viewing of this movie for me. Plus, I am just sick of hearing about it. Every time a movie like this gets released you have plenty of ignorant ("There aren't any Asian actors who can speak clear English" a real sentence somebody wrote defending Scarlett Johansson's casting) and Social Justice Warriors spewing bile at each other across the fence. I don't need to be in that mess. I've written plenty about this subject already. I've made my opinion very clear on this matter. I feel I have spoken my peace, and I have no need to get into it again.

So how does "Ghost In The Shell" work as a movie?

Well, had it been a silent movie, it would have been a masterpiece. Had all the sound been completely cut out of the movie and the dialogue appeared in title cards and all we got was images, it would have been a masterpiece. The movie is so visually arresting that it took my breath away. There is no denying we are living in a time where special effects can do nearly anything on screen, the sky is literally the limit. This film certainly takes advantage of the power of CGI and we get a film that is very beautiful to look at. But is there anything else going on besides the pretty pictures? Anything besides a few cool action scenes? (Honestly, I shouldn't say few, there is one cool action scene in the entire movie and that's it.)

The main problem with Scarlett Johansson isn't that she's a white actress playing an Asian character, not to me. The biggest problem is that Johansson is totally wooden in the entire movie. She's a blank, she's an empty shell. I think she's wildly overrated as an actress, and I feel she gets work because she's young, she's beautiful and she doesn't mind doing action and blockbuster stuff, so she gets plenty of work. She's like a female Mark Wahlberg, because like Wahlberg, you can tell when Johansson is phoning it in and when she isn't. Trust me, she phones it in way more than we realize. I am not just going to call myself a fan because she looks good. She's incredibly overrated as an actress, and I can barely think of something that I absolutely loved her in (except the criminally underrated "Under The Skin.") Yes, that includes the Marvel movies, she's fine in them, but she's nothing special. Never has been. In fact, if it weren't for one scheduling conflict, she wouldn't have received the role. I wish that scheduling conflict never occured, because I believe Emily Blunt would have delivered a much more memorable Black Widow than what Johansson is capable of.

It's not that she's alone in this movie, though. Nobody really gives this film the life it needs to keep the audiences focused and entertained. There is no forward momentum created by the actors, there is no character development in the script. I don't buy this future. I don't buy the characters who inhabit this world. I don't buy the film's premise. The Japanese anime did a spectacular job of reeling its audience in, making them care about the characters, and creating worthwhile material. This live-action rendition does none of that. Its coasts on special effects, hoping you'll go back because Johansson looks fabulous. But we want more, we need more and we deserve more. Sadly, we don't get more.

But hey, at least its wonderful to look at though, right?

FINAL GRADE: C-

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