‘Ghost in the Shell’ is a live action remake of the 1995 animated film based on the Manga of the same name. You’d have had to been living under a rock to miss the whitewashing controversy surrounding this remake regarding the casting of Scarlett Johansson in the lead role. However, now that the film is finally in UK cinemas audiences can decide for themselves how the various casting & production decisions have impacted the film.
The whitewashed elephant in the room may as well be addressed first. I don’t even think you need to see the film to decide where you stand on this one. This is my first experience of any ‘Ghost in the Shell’ media so I’ve no strong attachments to it. However, if the main character is Japanese I think it’s a shame that this has been changed. I can understand much of the reasoning but if nothing else in the story is different I don’t think it’s right to change the race of your main character. Especially when this film gives a chance to portray a demographic which is heavily underrepresented in mainstream cinema. Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve nothing against Scarlett Johnasson, I’m actually a big fan. Her performance in the film is fine but you can see where the writers have attempted to give reasoning for her character to be the race she is. The casting decision is a disappointing element and to a certain extent tarnishes the more accomplished elements of the film. The rest of the performances in the film are adequate as well but none of the characters are all that interesting. More character development and writing for their relationships with each other would have enhanced the drama greatly.
The narrative is quite simple and it will be familiar to film fans. Not specifically from the past versions of ‘Ghost in the Shell’ but just with the similarities it has with many other films. The story is told in an acceptably entertaining manner but there aren’t too many peaks in the drama. The film stays on one level for the entire running time. Whilst I found other elements to enjoy I could forgive others for becoming bored. Just like the narrative the action sequences are perfectly watchable but like so much in this film feel like a missed opportunity. I’d have loved to have seen some of the set pieces receive more attention or to have been extended. Other than the opening scene many of these sequences fail to become very memorable. One element that you’ll not forget anytime soon though is the stunning visuals that the film boasts. It’s so appealing to the eye through it’s design & cinematography that this nearly makes up for the other more lacking aspects of the film.
Whitewashing aside ‘Ghost in the Shell’ is perfectly satisfactory. Performances, action & narrative are all fine but there’s missed potential everywhere you look. That is, other than the striking visuals which might be the only thing to keep some entertained. I can’t help thinking that the original film must be a lot better to warrant the fan base it has. Maybe it would be worth checking that out this weekend rather than this remake.
Rating – 6/10
Question: What is your opinion on the accused whitewashing in ‘Ghost in the Shell’?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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