Augmentation is a touchy subject, the fact that each waking day we are having to face the consequences of this advancement, the types that are intentional, and the countless that aren’t. As such Augmentation has been one of the cornerstones for science fiction philosophers and storytellers since electricity entered the home. In 2017 an adaptation of an animated anime adaptation attempted to ascertain an answer about the tales of The Ghost In The Shell.
Sometime in the not too distant future, cybernetics has become the next big thing, but a fully robotic body is still out of the reach. When an anti-cybernetic terrorist attack critically wounds an innocent bystander, Mira Killian, and kills her parents. She is given a prototype body and put to work in anti-terrorist division. Now risen to the ranks of Major, she soon discovers that there are some secrets her employers are keeping from her about her past, so Major Killian goes to investigate.
The film leads with one of the most impressive aspects of the original animation, that being its stunning looks. The metropolis of New Port City that served to provide a dramatic backdrop to the anime is almost recreated here, I say almost as it doesn’t feel like a 1:1 recreation, but it is clear to see where the inspiration is drawn from. It provides suitable competition to similar sci-fi outings such as Blade Runner. This same visual detail is applied to the characters themselves making them look as similar to the anime/manga as is physically possible, it reminds me of Ultraviolet in a way, but with modern sensibilities.
The debate about cybernetics is intriguing, sure this well-worn territory for such properties like Deus-Ex, (that appear to share similar visual cues) particularly along the debate over where the line of humanity is crossed, this was a similar theme in the anime, but feels more accessible here. Scarlett Johansson is an enthralling choice It takes a certain skill to make a character that’s supposed to be emotionless, killing machine just so compelling. While it is disappointing that an Asian actress wasn’t considered for the role, Johansson does amicably here. But with a cast of other luminaries like Beat Takeshi, Chin Han, and even Juliette Binoche make this adaption a star-studded affair.
Ghost In The Shell has the challenging task of adapting a world-renowned anime, and it lives up to the challenge. The dazzling action is entwined with imaginative settings that reflect a more current era. Action and intrigue go hand in hand to evoke the memories of other stylish sci-fi thrillers, a-la Lucy, Ultraviolet, and many more. It’s a parallel look at a story that captivated many, and to cut a long story short: Ghost In The Shell is a suitable augmentation.
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