Here’s my take on the live-action Ghost in the Shell trailer.
[dropcap size=small]A[/dropcap]fter dropping five very short teaser trailers back in September, Paramount Pictures has now released the first official full length trailer for the upcoming live-action adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s masterful sci-fi manga and anime series, Ghost in the Shell.
Check it out below:
As someone who’s a big fan of Shirow’s manga, as well as the 1995 animated movie adaptation (and to a lesser extent the Stand Alone Complex series), it’s hard for me to entirely shift away from the fear that this live-action adaptation may well deliver a somewhat hollow, Hollywoodised version of GITS that lacks any of the depth and feeling of the original works.
The trailer allays some of my concerns thanks to the stunning visual effects which show off Shirow’s imagined futuristic world pretty well, but beneath the surface of the trailers look, my original fears seem to be validated.
Right off the bat I’d like to say that I’ve never been one to completely dismiss a new adaptation of something I love, and I like to think that I’m very open-minded. Realistically speaking, I have never had the expectation that this film will at all rival the original works, but I at the very least live in hope that this version won’t deviate too far from the source material.
My biggest problem with the narrative of the trailer is that it seems to have changed up the essence of Motoko Kusanagi’s cybernetic identity. What I mean by this is that it’s made clear that Scarlett Johnasson’s incarnation of The Major doesn’t know who she used to be before she was cybernetically augmented, which makes it appear as though the film will follow Johansson’s Major as she tries to reclaim her past self.
In the original manga and anime, the Major knows who she was and how and why she was augmented and became a cyborg. This is an essential factor in the original narrative, as it’s how the Major shapes her own core identity. She goes beyond her cyborg ‘shell’ and retains the mind and soul of her human self through her actions. Her identity and sense of self are integral to the whole message and feel of Ghost in the Shell. By making the Major seem like she’s suffering from amnesia entirely misses the point, and removes the philosophical poignancy explored through her self- identity.
Of course, the trailer only gives us a small slice of what’s to come, so I’m willing to allow that the film might explore the identity of the Major differently with the same core themes, but it’s one change that may let this adaptation down.
Technology is such a big part of life in current times, and continues to shape and change the way we interact with both the world and each other. As such, the themes explored in Ghost in the Shell are more relevant than ever before.
With the advent of Virtual Reality, social media sites and all too real looking robots being tried and tested, technology is becoming more and more intertwined with our own lives, and our technological connectivity is slowing encroaching on the human side of interaction. The Major’s clash of her human and machine self drive her own sense of alienation and disconnectivity, and the sense of disconnectedness is briefly touched upon in trailer, which is one theme that could easily be this film’s small saving grace.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the much discussed controversial topic of Hollywood white-washing, which is so heavily associated with this adaptation. The trailer certainly reminds you that the cast are by and large white in what is supposed to be a futuristic Japan, with the exception of Takeshi Kitano as Daisuke Amaraki.
The film does look very visually appealing, and it may well surprise fans and movie-goers alike upon release. Whilst some of my hopes for this adaptation may have been dashed, I’m still open to giving it a solid chance before I write it off entirely.
The live-action Ghost in the Shell is set to hit cinemas 31 March, 2017.