Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie
Also known as:
Koukaku Kidoutai: Shin Gekijouban
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Year:
2015
Director:
Kazuya Nomura, Kazuchika Kise
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Format:
100 minutes
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Review date:
14 December 2016
gits arise
It's more Ghost in the Shell. It's fairly dull, but in a meticulous, cyberpunky way. I didn't really go for it and I have absolutely no interest in watching it again.
If you like Ghost in the Shell, though, then go for it. It's a famous, important franchise and this looks as if it's doing all the usual Ghost in the Shell things. It's the near future and people have been upgrading their brains and bodies. You can have a cybernetic cerebellum and a nearly bulletproof prosthetic body. Sounds good, right? You can connect to the internet and everything. Unfortunately this is a semi-dystopian world where all government is corrupt, smiling is so rare that it gets noted in dialogue and half the cast are survivors of a recent international war. Being a cyborg means that you can:
(a) get smashed into the wall so hard that it leaves a crater
(b) get infected with computer viruses that rewrite your memories and make you machine-gun a group of captives
(c) face a short, ugly future of poverty and suicide if you can't get employed by someone capable of paying for your maintenance
(d) suffer "dead-ending", as your hardware and software go out of date. Even if anyone could be bothered to upgrade you, there's no guarantee that you were designed with long-term upgrading in mind.
The most interesting thing about this film is (d).
Anyway, our heroine is Major Motoko Kusanagi, who has no sense of humour. She leads a team of tough ex-military cyborgs who similarly... ah, you guessed. Kusanagi also has a military commander, Kurutsu, who's as humourless as everyone else but has at least learned to button up her shirt since we last saw her in the Ghost in the Shell: Arise: Alternative Architecture prequel series. (This just makes the prequels look sillier in hindsight.) The only beings I actually want to watch in this universe are the child-like Logicomas (robot crab vehicles), but unfortunately they don't get much screen time and are a bit rubbish. They were brilliant in the prequel series, but here they're not.
There's an intricate plot involving political/industrial machinations, assassination, soldiers who are unhappy about the Defence Ministry getting sort of decommissioned and generally bad people doing stuff. Our heroes investigate. Sometimes they have action scenes. This continues for 100 minutes, then the film ends.
What did I like here? I've been dismissive about Kusanagi's subordinates, but they do actually have a bit of tough-guy personality. One of them keeps needing reminding not to shoot to kill. What else? Well, there's less fanservice. There's also a fun moment where Mr Obnoxious gets told that he's being injected with micromachines that will increase his pain sensitivity 7000 times. Time for interrogation!
Even its fans wouldn't call this an approachable franchise. It takes some effort to... um, to care. Its characters are cold, while its plot is cleverly constructed but not interesting. It has decent action scenes and explosions. However its raison d'etre is its ideas, even if it's not focusing on them in an overt philosophical way. It's engaging with cyberpunk themes like identity loss, memory editing and the boundary between human and machine. What impressed me is that it's managed to keep this feeling fresh and contemporary (e.g. the "dead-ending") even though cyberpunk's been around since at least the 1980s and we should probably be sick to death of it.
This franchise has plenty of fans, though. Hell, the original 1995 film is a key cyberpunk text. Feel free to ignore me.
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