Ghost In The Shell, out now, cert 15a, ***
YOU will be forgiven for not being overly familiar with the Japanese story, Ghost In The Shell.
It first came to light as a comic in 1989, created by the renowned manga artist Masamune Shirow and is hugely popular in its home country of Japan, where it has spawned countless sequels, television series, video games, and films.
A 1995 movie of the same name garnered a small but dedicated following worldwide and its popularity grew.
Up until now, all adaptations have been animation but this week a live action film opens in cinemas, having gained notoriety for all of the wrong reasons.
Accused of whitewashing an Asian story, Caucasian actors have been cast in key roles.
Ghost In The Shell is set in the future in a world dominated by holograms and cyborg technology. Scientists have learned how to create cyborg parts to enhance humans.
Nearly everyone has some robotic part in their body — a faster leg, better eyes, super hearing... If you do not have a cybernetic part you are likely to own or work with a cyborg. The future is technology and everyone is connected to it.
Scarlett Johansson stars as Major Motoko Kusanagi, the first of a new type of super-soldier. Major’s entire body is a computer on the inside and a perfect specimen of a human woman on the outside. There is one thing that sets her apart from the other cyborgs: she has a human brain, her own brain in fact.
Major’s family were lost in a shipping accident in which she herself died. She wakes up to find herself in a new body, created by Dr Ouélet (Juliette Binoche). Her brain was salvaged from her old body and placed into the cyborg body. She has some memories but most are lost. She is a ghost in a shell.
Her human brain, combined with her cyborg body, ensures she is the perfect super-soldier and works in Section 9, as a counter-cyberterrorist.
The biggest threat to cyborgs is hacking. Following an attack on a diplomatic party, Major must work with her team to find the attacker.
Pilou Asbæk stars as Batou, her second in command.
Major is led to Kuze (Michael Pitt), the possible suspect. Kuze has more to say than Major ever expected and she begins to doubt what she is doing, added by seeing flashes of her old life, a life that was erased when she became a cyborg.
As more revelations are made, Major must decide who she can trust and which type of life she wants to lead.
Let me just say this one is really out there. Suspension of belief is a must for this futuristic drama. Once suspension has been achieved, enjoyment can commence.
This is a film that looks incredible, where 3D is effectively used. The world of tomorrow is carefully and vividly imagined with holograms popping from every corner of the screen, some so tightly woven into the fabric of the city that it is hard to take them all in.
The various cyborgs are brilliantly created and the costume is a fabulous mix of futuristic meets 1980s.
Johansson is amazing on the stunt front, but her character is a little lacking, despite being the film’s main protagonist.
Ghost In The Shell is worth seeing for the visuals, and its interesting premise. It is not always the best dialogue-wise but this is one for the eyes.