At First Glance: “Ghost in the Shell”

Adaptations can be based on anything. Some are better received than others, and some make people wish the attempt had never been made. With adaptations that are already controversial, which seems to be as rare as a highly praised one, getting excited for what’s to come is even harder. Will it actually be worth it or just another semi-enjoyable film?

The upcoming Paramount Pictures film “Ghost in the Shell”, looks interesting, with potentially fun action, but at the same time, it comes off as too weird, even for me.

The sci-fi film stars Scarlett Johansson (upcoming “Sing”, “Captain America: Civil War”), Pilou Asbaek (“Game of Thrones”, “Ben-Hur (2016)”), Takeshi Kitano (“Doctor X: Gekai Daimon Michiko Special”, “While the Women Are Sleeping”), Juliette Binoche (“Slack Boy”, “The 33”), and Michael Pitt (“Criminal”, “Criminal Activities”).

The film is directed by Rupert Sanders (“Snow White and the Huntsman”, “How. To Destroy Angels: The Space in Between (Short 2010)”) and written by Jonathan Herman (“Straight Outta Compton”) and Jamie Moss (“Street Kings”). It is based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow.

The film is expected to open on March 31, 2017.
The long and the short of this piece is, I figured I should see what everyone would be getting excited about or hate. I’ve never seen the animated properties that came before, nor do I plan on ever seeing them, so I’m at a huge disadvantage. I have no expectations whatsoever. I guess, in a lot of ways, this is actually a good thing. If I ignore reviews and word of mouth, I may be able to enjoy the film. What? Too much optimism? I’ll take it where I can.

So, I’m torn when it comes to what I witnessed. One part of me, surprisingly, finds this teaser to be a bit too weird. I like films that are out there, especially science fiction films, but this one seems to go somewhere else.

On the flip side, there were some pretty cool looking and exciting action sequences. That one where Johansson jumps down the building, jumps through the glass, and starts shooting people, was a great way to start showing her character’s capabilities. There were several others, but that only lends itself to making me a bit more intrigued than I was before. I’m definitely going to need another trailer, which I’ll explain in a moment.

Based off of the action and everything else, the style and feel of this film is clear. It’s a futuristic and sleek action film. I’m a bit amazed at all the visuals I saw, which is also why I’m hopeful for this film. It could be fun and worth it. Getting lost in this crazy world doesn’t seem hard. Granted, I am probably in the minority of people who enjoyed the “Total Recall” remake from 2012, which also had a similar sleek and fun futuristic feel to it, but ultimately the film didn’t really work out as well as planned. Could this film be like that?

What does seem hard, which can happen with trailers, is justifying my paying any amount of money to sit in an uncomfortable chair for two hours. I say this, because even though I read the synopsis, I can’t in any capacity tell you, or myself, what the plot is. What’s the overall story? Why is she doing this? Why is anyone? I don’t feel, based solely on the images presented in the trailer, that I have a clear cut idea as to why I should even care, let alone see this in theater’s, if at all.

What I can applaud this film, and whoever it was that cut the trailer, is throwing in intentional mystery. A line is uttered by some character, and that’s all that I needed. He says, “Everything they told you was a lie.” After processing my first reaction to that, which was a snarky, “Of course”, I was finding myself interested. Intrigued. Another reason I want a second trailer. It may help to clear things up or just show me that mystery is intentional and could even prove to be helpful to the overall film.

Adaptations are tricky. You either love them or hate them, there’s seldom any middle ground. When trying to get excited about upcoming adaptations that’s a bit trickier to figure out. What type of viewer are you? Someone who’s familiar with the source material or just being exposed to it in any real way? The job of the trailer is to help answer these questions, along with any others, and get you excited. If it can’t do any of those things, not to any satisfactory level, you, the potential audience member, are at an even further disadvantage. Instead of having your mind put at easy, and excitement being built, you now have to hope the next trailer does a better job at convincing you of the film’s worth.

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