Major Upgrade?: A Ghost In The Shell review.

Directed by: Rupert Sanders.

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Juliette Binoche.

Plot: In The near future, humanity has developed great advances in cybernetic augmentation and prosthesis even going as far, in the case of ‘Major’ Mira Killian, as to house a human brain in a cybernetic “shell”. When the Major begins to experience glitches in her perception, is her past life as it seems?

The makers of this version of Ghost In The Shell had a pretty daunting task set out for them, give a decent representation of the source material so as not to enrage and alienate the ardent fans of the anime original. The best way I can advice a GITS fan going to see this film is, think of it as a adaptation sharing the DNA of the source material but doing its own thing. It does not slavishly, beat for beat copy the anime it is based on, rather take ideas, iconic imagery, concepts and ideology of the original and spin it’s own tale, to some surprising degree of success in my opinion.

The trailer to GITS set many a tongue wagging in the fan community, some with excitement, many with derision and quite a few with a sense of piqued curiosity. The trailer looked very much like the source material even though the film itself tells a marginally different tale, it takes some of the best facets of the Manga and tells it own version of events. This is a move that I’m sure will cause anger amongst hardcore anime fans but is the right choice for this movie I feel. The makers of this film has created a visually arresting near future dystopia, a world of towering holograms jutting from the city lanscape, of robots living amongst humanity with many with some kind of cybernetic augmentation themselves. It’s a world that is fantastical but also somewhat believable, a future with some degree of plausibility. There are some definite stylistic tips of the hat in this film other than it original source material, the likes of Bladerunner and The Matrix can certainly be felt in the presence of this film.

The cast for this film play their parts admirably, Scarlett Johansson’s cybernetic ‘Major’, at odd’s with her robotic ‘shell’ and the ‘ghost’ of her past humanity is played to great effect. Veteran Japanese actor Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano adds some class to the proceedings, his usual effortless delivery is much appreciated here, Michael Pitt is also on hand as enigmatic and shadowy Kuze, stalking Johansson’s Major for reasons that become apparent as the film progresses.

The film’s score is handled by former Pop Will Eat Itself frontman Clint Mansell, a man who has carved a formidable career for himself as a go to artist for film scoring, he pulls the good out of the bag again with his work on GITS, an effective and evocative piece of work that fits the feel of the film perfectly. Mansell is possibly one of my favourite film composers and for me he has come up with the goods again.

I think that GITS has done an admirable job of translating the source material to the big screen in its own way. It isn’t going to be liked by everyone, it’s probably going to be over criticised by some but for me personally, it was an enjoyable, beautiful to look at if not completely faithful translation of the original masterpiece.

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