Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson is dark, brave, and revolutionary, despite its criticisms. Set in the near future, this movie shows the evolution of technological singularity with an unblinking courage that will terrify thinking viewers while entertaining the rest with a lot of action, a good plot, and a lot of cinematic beauty.
Warning: There are several Ghost in the Shell spoilers below!
Scarlett Johansson’s character is stripped of her race, her memories, her former ideologies, and even her own human flesh to become the ghost in the shell. Her body is destroyed, and her brain is transplanted into a robot that looks quite human.
Scarlett Johansson is given the name Major and told her family is dead. With nothing to tie her to her past and no memory of her own past, Scarlett Johansson’s Major has little choice but to become a loyal servant to her new owners who allow her the illusion of freedom.
The world of Ghost in the Shell is dark but beautiful. At first, the Japanese city is gorgeous in the early overview scenes, with futuristic lighting and amazing holographic displays. Even from the beginning, it is a dark and complex atmosphere. The feel of Ghost in the Shell is overwhelmingly busy, yet stark and completely devoid of nature.
Scarlett Johansson’s Major is told she is the first of her kind, but her Ghost in the Shell situation is the way of the future. Scarlett Johansson’s character believes she was rescued from certain death. The robotics, technology, and implants all her human co-workers in Ghost in the Shell are getting designed to simply aid humanity, but it gradually dawns on the viewer and Scarlett Johansson’s Major that all is not as it seems.
Ghost in the Shell deserves to have its place beside Blade Runner, Dark City, the Terminator trilogy, Johnny Mnemonic, The Matrix, and a host of futuristic movies that explore deeper aspects of humanity in a technological future. Yet, it did not do well at all at the box office, according to Forbes.
While Ghost in the Shell’s manga fans are disappointed in the film because it tries to do too much and cover far too much ground in one hour and 47 minutes, it’s still a great standalone movie that tells a story. Yes, it would have been better if it had been a trilogy, but the movie is both intricate and fast paced. It doesn’t tell every detail, and what is explained comes quickly.
Ghost in the Shell has also taken criticism for casting Scarlett Johansson as Major instead of an Asian woman, according to the Hollywood Reporter. There is a clear reason for this in the film though that Manga fans were unaware of because this live action Ghost in the Shell uses the story to focus on the issue of identity.
Ghost in the Shell, in addition to telling the story of the manga graphic novel’s Major, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson, focuses strongly on the human need for identity. What makes someone a unique human individual as opposed to a robot? What does it mean to be human? In that way, Ghost in the Shell poses a question everyone needs to answer for themselves before technology goes one more step.
Scarlett Johansson as Major has lost her body and been implanted into a robot. Was it her body that made her human? Major has also lost her childhood and young adult memories. Is it important to remember who one is in order to remain human? Scarlett Johansson’s Major is no longer Asian in appearance. Is racial identity part of what makes a person uniquely themselves?
Ghost in the Shell is a thought provoking movie, despite the fact the source material deserves trilogy instead of less than two hours. Scarlett Johansson plays her role masterfully, even if she isn’t Asian. Most importantly, though, Ghost in the Shell is a warning label for the coming singularity.
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Ghost in the Shell with Scarlett Johansson is definitely worth watching for those who missed it in theaters.
[Featured Image by Francois Mori/AP Images]