The 2017 live action version of Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson, is upon us. I am a fan of the 1995 anime, though it isn’t a perfect movie. It’s a bit dry with a lot of speeches about identity and the nature of consciousness. But I still like it and have seen the anime several times. I’m also a fan of the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series and I’ve read some of the original manga, which has a different tone from all the other versions of the story. This review focuses on the 2017 movie, which I think of as the “Scarjo” version.
The new live action movie basically keeps the same world and characters from all the other versions of Ghost in the Shell, more or less. It take’s place in a near future world where cybernetic implants are commonplace and people can surf the web with their minds. The main characters are the crew of Section 9, which I think of as a team of semi-military cops. OK, so maybe just cops. They can also be likened to the FBI and other federal agencies that stop crimes. In most versions of Ghost in the Shell, “the Major” – usually named Motoko Kusanagi – is the central protagonist, although the Scarjo version calls her Mira Killian. Each version of the story pits the Major and the rest of Section 9 against opponents with advanced computer hacking abilities that allow them to infect cybernetic human beings with viruses, new memories, and all that scary stuff.
So now for the big question: Did the live 2017 Ghost in the Shell Scarjo version of the movie suck?