Ghost in the Shell is widely considered one of the most important franchises in the history of anime/manga. The 1995 feature-length movie, in particular, was wildly successful, and influenced a number of filmmakers in the science fiction genre. When Dreamworks Pictures decided to bring a live-action adaptation to the big screen, they had some big shoes to fill. Unfortunately, while the movie gets a lot of things right, the live-action film doesn’t live up to it’s predecessor’s reputation as a groundbreaking, instant-classic movie.
Unlike most of the films I review on this blog, Ghost in the Shell is a bit outside my wheelhouse. I am, at best, a casual anime/manga fan — I’ve seen the 1995 film and I’ve read a couple of the manga, but I’m by no means an expert on the franchise. As such, I didn’t walk into this movie as a super-fan, hoping to see well-known characters and plots brought to life. Rather, I went in with somewhat fresh eyes, wanting a movie that captured the tone and feel of the original while telling a compelling story. And while the movie did an excellent job at reproducing the atmosphere of a Japanese anime, the story itself didn’t quite click for me. Too much of the movie felt dated and derivative (which is unfortunate, as we’ll see later), and that just detracted too much from the movie for my liking.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie for what it was. It wasn’t bad, or boring, or confusing, or any of the things that make me hate a movie. I’m glad I got to see it, and I don’t feel like I wasted my time or money (though, don’t bother with 3-D). If the movie hadn’t been called Ghost in the Shell, I think it would have fared much better without the reputation to live up to. I’d rate it a middle-of-the-road 6/10, worth seeing if you’re a fan of the genre, or just want to watch a sci-fi movie that’s a bit different from the typical blockbuster fare. If you want to know more, keep reading…