In 2008, DreamWorks and Steven Spielberg acquired the rights to produce a live action Film adaptation of the Popular Japanese Manga series originally written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow. Ghost in the Shell is set in a fictional Japanese city in a dystopian future where it is entirely common for people to get their biological organs replaced with computerised parts. Most people’s brains are fitted with ‘cybernetic’ parts, allowing them to be downloaded and ‘backed up’ on a hard drive much like an iPhone. The main character, Major Motoko Kusanagi (played by Scarlett Johansson), having had a fatal accident befall her has a child, was given a fully prosthetic body to house her ‘cyberbrain’, enabling her to continue living as a ‘cyborg’. In layman’s terms – she’s a robot with a half human, half computerised brain. The danger with her life saving procedure is that it has left her brain vulnerable to hackers who may bend her whims and use her superhuman strengths to their own benefit.
Now, reading that pile of sci-fi gibberish would normally have me running in the opposite direction, however watching the trailer has left me very intrigued. Director Rupert Sanders is no stranger to bringing imagined worlds to life – visually speaking, the world created in Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) was breathtaking on a level rarely achieved. In the trailer for Sanders’ follow up film, the shots of the overpopulated, technologically advanced ‘New Port City’ – as it is known – are brilliantly realised, setting up a nightmarish world reminiscent of the work of Chris Cunningham and the likes of Blade Runner (1982) and The Fifth Element (1997). It is this finely detailed world which sets Sanders up as somewhat of a visual auteur and makes Ghost in the Shell something to look forward to.
Johansson has had an oddly varied career, spanning from highly experimental independent arthouse films to cashed up comic book blockbusters. Coincidentally, this is the third time she had played some form of synthetic human – appearing in Lucy (2014) and the critically acclaimed Under the Skin (2013) – and her second visit to Japan since Lost in Translation (2003), giving this film an eerie sense of familiarity. The cast is completed by Michael Pitt, Juliette Binoche and Michael Wincott. Ghost in the Shell is set to be released worldwide in March. You can watch the trailer below.
Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell
Some sort of robotic geisha assassin in Ghost in the Shell