Review: Ghost in the Shell (2017 vs. 1995)

In 2017, a live-action adaptation of the classic anime film, Ghost in the Shell, was released to mixed reviews.

With such rich source material to draw from how could this new version have gotten it so wrong? Let’s take a look.

In the near future, cybernetic enhancements have blurred the lines between man and machine.

These enhancements connect everyone to a vast network of information that makes our modern day internet pale by comparison.

This bold future for human evolution is not with our its troubles. Cyber crimes take on a whole different meaning when hackers can invade people’s minds and alter their memories, their thoughts, the very essence of thier identity and what makes them unique individuals.

Public security agency Section 9 – led by Chief Aramaki and Major Motoko Kusanagi – are tasked with policing these cyber crimes.

Both movies follow an investigation involving a hacker a seemingly ominous message to spread. Along the way they endeavor to tackle issues of self-identity, artificial intelligence, merging man with machine, and what it means to be human.

And that is just about where the similarities end.

Ghost Lost in the Shell

While the classic anime – which is itself an adaptation – successfully captured the the imagination with its stunning animation style and thought-provoking comentary on the issues listed above, the 2017 version barely scratches the surface.

The new version does have stunning visuals, but at times the story gets lost in them. This is most evident in the attempts to recreate some of the classic scenes from the anime that just leave too much to be desired.

While there were some parts of the plot that went a little beyond the confines of the original narrative – a Section 9 that isn’t quite as refined, how Batou got his iconic eyes, and exploring an origin for the Major – all that good stuff drowns under the weight of a sometimes plodding narrative.

Overall the live-action film added nothing of any real import to the Ghost in the Shell mythos.