For Some, Ghost in the Shell Just Doesn't Compute
Though Scarlett Johansson's acting is mostly getting raves
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2017 9:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – Rupert Sanders' live-action Ghost in the Shell—a remake of the Japanese animated film of the same name, based on manga—follows a cyborg named Major. Tasked with beating up terrorists for a government task force, she slowly begins to uncover her true identity. Here's what critics are saying:

  • "Fans of the comics should appreciate how faithful this remains to the original plot," writes Edward Douglas at the New York Daily News. "A few sequences are recreated masterfully, and some fresh strokes fill the gaps and enhance the original animated story." But though Scarlett Johansson's Major "is suitably robotic," the scenes in which she's not beating someone up are pretty dull, Douglas writes.
  • Justin Chang credits Johansson on "a near-perfect piece of acting." But he can't help but notice the film's "half-apologetic, half-defensive pose," perhaps its reaction to criticism over the casting of a white actress to play a traditionally Japanese character. That said, the film does have "an emotional surge that its 1995 predecessor lacked" along with "staggering" visuals, he writes at the Los Angeles Times. "Your senses will be deeply and thoroughly ravished."

  • Barry Hertz is on the same page regarding Johansson. She "does a better job than anyone could reasonably hope," he writes at the Globe and Mail. It's just too bad she's "trapped in Sanders' soulless production." It's "a product born out of a desire to erase virtually any trace of its foreign origins" and "an inert, insulting appropriation of what is one of the 20th century’s most influential works of pop art," he writes.
  • As Brian Truitt puts it, "the interface might be cool, but the inner workings just don't compute." Not only "a minefield of political incorrectness," the film is also "a defective mess with lifeless characters," he writes at USA Today. And though it raises interesting themes "of identity, amorality and what makes for a life worth living," it "too often reverts to unsatisfying action set pieces before digging too deep."
(Some have complained about the film's "whitewashing.")

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