Set in the future, Ghost in the Shell follows a recently deceased young woman (Scarlett Johansson) who has her brain placed into the latest and most sophisticated robot. Believing that she was killed by terrorists, she targets a powerful and exceptionally deadly crime syndicate for revenge.
This is another one of those cases where a great movie concept, falls victim to inept execution. There are many creative options with a story about a human brain controlling a cutting-edge machine. But Ghost in the Shell is nothing more than a flat story. The screenwriters try to give shape to the film by using a lot of mindless violence and flashy special effects. Unfortunately, at points when this story is on the edge of being interesting, it reverts back to dullness.
The writers are also lazy in how they portray the future. For example, cars pretty much look and operate the same as they do today. However, self-driving cars are currently just a few years away. With all the advanced weaponry displayed in the film, a villain pulls out a knife to defend himself, which is reminiscent of a 1950 James Dean movie. Additionally, the dialogue offers no new words. The American vocabulary expands constantly, for example, blogs, unfriend, sexting, are all recent additions to the dictionary. Certainly, there will be terms used 20 years from now that are currently unknown.
Scarlett Johannsson does her best to carry this story. She has credibility as the mechanical crime fighter from her fit form down to her, I am going kick ass gait.
This film gets an “A” for cast diversity, featuring a wide range of human types and quite a few nonhumans as well.
Ultimately, it’s only fitting that Ghost in the Shell gets our Dead on Arrival rating. As I have said repeatedly, special effects are simply not enough. You need more than a phantom storyline.
Ghost in the Shell is PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, suggestive content, and some disturbing scenes. Ghost in the Shell probably should have received an R rating for its violence. It’s just under 2 hours in length.