You’d be forgiven for thinking that Scarlett Johansson isn’t human at all. In recent years the majority of her roles involve her body being meddled with in the name of science and her character, Major, in Ghost in the Shower offers no exception.
Ghost in the Shell is by no means jaw-dropping. We’ve seen the plot many times before and Rupert Sanders doesn’t do much to push the boundaries further.
Set in the near future, we get a corporate villain, digital advertisements throughout the city, and progressive technology where humans embrace cyber-enhanced features in the same way celebs embrace cosmetic surgery, despite looking slightly odd and unnatural.
The film itself is surrounded in controversy as it is a live-action remake of a beloved Japanese manga comic. I get the appeal and the attempt to turn this classic anime film into an exhilerating blockbuster, but what I don’t get is the constant whitewashing from Hollywood.
Even ‘Kusanagi’ is dropped from Major’s original name.
Although the plot tries to criticise its own whitewashing in the film’s big reveal, for me it falls flat. It seems it is another attempt to take popular pieces from another culture and cash in by crafting it for a white audience. The fact that Major’s brain is purposely relocated into a flawless white body rather than something that resembles her true body is simply skirted over briefly at the end of the film.
Whitewashing has become a vicious circle; Hollywood believes it needs big names for financial reasons, the majority of which are white actors, but if it never hires Asian actors for big roles, these actors will never get the chance to flourish, even in their own domain.
In regards to the plot, Major is part of Section 9, a government security unit and has been specially designed to act like a weapon rather than a human. Other than her body, there are no human-like qualities about her – even seeing a cat playing is odd to her.
The incredible actor, Juliette Binoche, is out of place as Dr Ouelet in the film’s dystopian context. We’re used to seeing her light up and bring ordinary characters to life in ordinary settings. Unfortunately her character doesn’t really need to evoke overwhelming emotions as the film is more aesthetically pleasing than anything else and therefore I feel she is wasted in the role.
Overall the story seems tired as though we know the outcome from the start (and let’s be honest, we pretty much did from the extensive trailers). It needs an added spark. Sanders should have stretched the original plot rather than playing it safe.