I pretty much had the same reaction with “Ghost in the Shell” as I had with “RoboCop” back in 2014. The first half is basically a popcorn-eating picture with its dazzling visual effects and few fresh performances, but the second half is just dull. I can tell you this: at least it offers more than last week’s “Life” did, but that’s not saying much.
Scarlett Johansson is versatile as Major, whose human brain was saved, following a horrible accident, and is now in a cyber-enhanced body, thus becoming a super soldier. Hence the name: “Ghost in the Shell.” She is the first of her kind, and according to the CEO (Peter Ferdinando), she is also the future of his robotics company “Hanka.”
A character by the name of Kuze (Michael Pitt) has been hacking into people’s memories, and killing those who try to stop him. When Major comes face-to-face with him, turns out he was just the company’s failed experiment, and she is one, too. To clarify: her life was both stolen and altered, and now, the CEO orders her to be exterminated.
Among her allies are her partner Batou (Pilou Asbaek), who has a well-meaning tough cop side in him, the Chief Taramaki (Takeshi Kitano), and Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche), who wanted no part in Major’s experiment. They’re all likable in their own ways, but they’re not given the kind of persona I can relate to.
The visuals and production values in “Ghost in the Shell” are amazing. The Tokyo city is chocked full of not only colorful lights, but also holograms of people and fish. They’re not just on buildings, they can also be found on cars, too. The super soldiers can also make themselves invisible, and even if we can barely see them, the effects are nice. And the water fight scene also looks cool.
The downside is how complicated the story gets for those who are unfamiliar with the Japanese comics and animated feature. It’s all one-liners, big scientific words, and computer hacking that tells the story. I may have gotten the jist of it, but all of this is basically wall-to-wall. In conclusion, the first half works, but the second is boring.