Directed: Rupert Sanders
Screenplay: Jamie Moss, William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger (based on the comic “The Ghost in the Shell” by Shirow Masamune)

In the 21st Century, more of us are plugged in. Major Mira Killian goes on a mission to bring down the cyber terrorist Hideo Kuze. Her responsibility lies with Section 9, but is also on the quest of finding out more about her own ghost. The directorial decision to explore her past life as Motoko Kusanagi takes a step towards establishing who she is and what her motivations are.

A body is wheeled in for what appears to be her last ride as a human being. The process produces a human looking body with a living brain. This isn’t an android. This is a cyborg with full state of the art functionality. Her memories have been erased and new memories were implanted. Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche) conducted a series of tests and the Major is the first successful output. The good doctor has reservations about her being used as a weapon.

A year later, Mira has attained the rank of Major in the anti-terrorist group Section 9. A group of cyber augmented humans gathered around for a social gathering with geishas serving them. A group of terrorists attempt to destroy all who are in this gathering. The Major is on the rooftop near by. She can “see” what’s going on, who’s in the room and their background. Kuze commences a cyber hack through the geishas. In comes the Major crashing through a massive glass window and contains the situation.

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As the robot is lying there dying, the warning “Cooperate with Hanko Electronics and be destroyed” comes before the Major shoots the cyber geisha at point blank range. The Major she feels some sort of emotion after she shot the geisha. She wants to find out more about who she is. There are random memories that show up like glitches in the matrix. This is unsettling to her.

The Major gets further briefings at Section 9 from her colleagues and the Chief. Some of the characters from the anime are brought to life here in this film – Carlos Ishikawa (Lasarus Ratuere), Togusa (Chin Han), and Daisuke Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano). The importance of finding Kuze / Hideo (Micheal Carmen Pitt) takes precedence. Batou sticks close to the Major and their connection grows over time. One might say that Batou has a deep affection for the Major. Dr. Dahlin (Anamaria Marinca) brings to life one of the supporting characters in the original story. She provides more information on who hacked into the cyber brain of the geisha.

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Batou is also a touch warmer than the animated version. Pilou does do a good job at bringing this character to life in his own specific type of way. And we get a little bit of insight as to why his eyes are the way they are. Other lessor known characters in the film are a little over the top and doesn’t seem to match up to the sophistication that this film appears to have. The Major’s liaison with another woman is sensual without being provocative. It is poetic and symbolic in ways that provide the notion that this is simply more than a cybernetic, enhanced society that has lost it’s humanity. This is the importance of how interconnected societies can retain a sense of warmth when you know where to look. The scene with the “skinny man” is good and is fairly faithful to the animation whilst introducing additional texture such as the car crash. Dr. Ouelet gives the necessary clues that Major Mira Killian needs to unravel her past. The good doctor is a maternal figure with great warmth and affection. Kuze is seen as the villain at the beginning of the story. Towards the end, this perception changes and the connection he has with Mira is incredibly profound.

The disc features extras which provide a behind the scenes look at the film which may offer some value for those who would like to buy this for their movie collection. Whether or not we see a sequel is unknown

VERDICT
The timing for Ghost in the Shell is just right as it attempts to offer a view of what could our future could be. Sanders uses elements from both the first Ghost in the Shell movie and Stand Alone Complex in a way that would allow a good introduction to those who would be new to these characters. Unfortunately, this live action version misses the opportunity to tell a new story that would not only be faithful to the characters, but could have also introduced more than what was opted for. The philosophical aspects are not as prevalent in this film. Godspeed.

RATING: 7.9 out of 10

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