Ghost In The Shell (2017)
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Ghost In The Shell (2017)

Actors that become associated with action movies have a perennial staple of the movie industry since audiences have first sat in a darkened theater mesmerized by the moving images. Stories concerning adventure, action-driven plots with actors (or their stuntmen) performing amazingly dangerous feats seemingly impossible for a mortal man to endeavor much less pull off with perfect execution. Until rather recently the action star was an exclusively male-dominated profession. The rare woman undertaking this way of living remained mostly in the background fortunate if they were even mentioned in the general credits. Over the last decade or so these films have increasing feature popular actresses, many not only adapt with the requested strength, agility, and precision but also eminently attractive possessing a substantial amount of acting talents. One woman has carved out a niche as arguably the most talented and actress ibn action films including owning such a role in the most popular and lucrative set of films ever, the role of Natasha Romanoff, aka the Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Scarlett Johansson. What differentiates Ms. Johansson from the plethora of young performers that see this as the way to achieve professional recognition, Ms. Johansson is first and foremost a serious actress. She has been carefully honing her craft since she was only ten years of age. By the time her dramatic breakout roles were released, she was seventeen and already a veteran of the business establishing herself as a journeywoman actor. Her big break can in a pair of films released close together, ‘An American Rhapsody’ and the sleeper hit and true classic, ‘Ghost World.' In a movie such as the one under consideration here, ‘Ghost in the Shell,' Ms. Johansson deports herself admirably once the action sequences have abated for a moment. When most movies have the audience taking a break while the exposition unfolds, Ms. Johannsson exhibits the ability to strengthen the emotional bond with the audience drawing them sufficiently into the story that they care about her character, not just the spectacular acts of agility experienced by the viewers. In her latest foray into the exciting venue of movies driven by explosive sequences that defy imagination and most of the Newtonian laws of nature. ‘Ghost in the Machine is based on the popular manga story of the same name as well a previous animated feature length movie.

Many movies begin as so many others making the temporal setting as ‘shortly,' but what has become so evident that that nebulous description has taken on the distic0nctive nature of looming reality. Every generation of filmmakers has leveraged the newest technology exploiting the inevitable duality of paradigm shifting advancements. ‘in the nineteenth-century electricity satisfied that role while in the fifties the latest technological plot devices were twofold, nascent use of atomic energy and the realistic potential of space exploration. Now, once again two converging branches of technological progress have eclipsed the other possible villain, quantum physics and giant leaps in the realization of artificial intelligence. The term used for the theorized point of convergence, the singularity. Within the context required for this story, it is the point where the organic and technological systems merge no longer distinguishable as separate. This theme is rapidly proliferating becoming the foundation for many of the most innovative and thought proving science fiction movies are dominating the cinematic landscape. ‘Ghost in the Shell’ infused the theme with a greater than usual consideration of one of the many questions raised by this technology. This story focuses on the psychological and emotional impact from the vantage point of one of the first to make the cybernetic migration. In this brave new world, cybernetic argumentation enhancing a myriad of human characteristics and abilities ranging from magnifying the senses, strength, and agility to providing implanted devices to communicate through the internet seamlessly. The Hanka Robotics Corporation is the leader in the development and deployment of new means of argumentation. One of the latest projects represented the pinnacle of cyborg development. They have created a fully enhanced, completely cybernetic human body conveniently referred to as ‘The Shell’.in a specially designed cranial cavity the living brain of the subject was inserted. The human brain contains the total of some person’s memories, feeling hopes and dreams, the individual’s soul or ghost. Once the ghost merged with its shell, the result is the perfection of human achievement. The subject selected to participate in the experimental protocol was a young woman, Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson), who survived an accident which resulted in the death by drowning of both parents. With her ghost ensconced in the new shell was inducted into the corporation’s anti-terrorist bureau Section 9, attaining the rank of Major. She led a team consisting of experienced field operatives, Batou (Batou and Togusa) and Togusa (Chin Han), under the direction of the Section Chief Daisuke Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano). This work took on a deeply personal motivation since her parent’s deaths were a direct result of a terrorist attack.

Major’s shell is not invincible, but it is incredibly durable, resistant to most forms of physical attack. When damaged it is a rather straightforward to repair. Visually the film is stunning, utilizing the latest innovations available to a modern filmmaker such as Rupert Sanders. He has a short resume at this point consisting mostly of ‘Snow White and the Huntsman.' He does ha an innate talent for utilizing the latest Real 3D technology in the best way possible, to spice the proceedings adding precisely inserted sequences to maximize the visual intensity experienced by the audience. So many directors charging into using the illusion of depth surrendering to its seductive novelty factor permitting it to overwhelm the most important aspect of cinema is to tell a story. No matter how incredible the 3D effects might be, they can’t supplant a strong, cohesive narrative. Mr. Sanders has demonstrated a natural knack to infuse the movie with just the proper amount to enhance the story not try to assume the responsibility to tell it. in many scenes, the effect is barely noticeable, just a hint of the characters and scenery existing or different, distinct planes. When certain crucial moments occur, such a significant battle that showcases both Major’s enhancements and training and the vast range of argumentations available to her adversaries. In one scene, in particular, the incorporation of 3D is so critical to the scene, providing the vital nuances to make the scene important and noticeable to the viewers. Mira Killian

There has been a significant controversy over what is referred to as whitewashing, substituting Caucasian actors for ones intended to be of a specific ethnic origin. The role of Major was created by an Asian, so the expectations were for that to guide the casting of the part. Fans of the franchise were upset when a white Ms. Johansson. Some effort was made to address this issue, but for many, it was too little, too late. The context of the story had the donor, was Asian as validated by the fully Japanese biological mother of the subject and the photograph of her daughter seen in the senior woman’s home. There was a certain subtle Asian component to Major’s features but hardly enough to qualify as remaining true to the ethnic provisions of the source material. As this plot device is handled within the context of the story was achieved with a creative and nicely underplayed graduation to the psychological arc of the character. Major robbed of everything that was part of her pre-procedure life. Her memories were selectively erased, replaced with ones that supported the cover story devised by the team. Major’s main physician, Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche), was always maternal and deeply concerned but was complicit in hiding the truth from Major. Dr. Dahlin (Anamaria Marinca), is the doctor charged with the responsibility of maintaining the physical integrity of the shell. The Doctor is constantly lighting a cigarette only to take a few drags only to snub it out. She also has a very specific argumentation designed to help her in her profession, the part of her face around the eyes could open up allowing for the addition of eyepieces that expedited her procedures.

Fans of the most recent megahit from HBO, ‘Westworld’ will recognize many of the procedural tools used to create and repair the shell. Robotically controlled micromanipulators serve as a 3D printer to carefully create the body, one molecular width at a time with the outer covering finalized with full immersion in a bath of some milky white liquid. Many of the visual components taken from several of the most iconic features in similar forms of science fiction. The initial occurrence found in the first look at the metropolitan setting. There are holographic billboards everywhere advertising a plethora of products and services. Some include holographic images of people several stories in height, for the Sci-Fi aficionado with a sharp eye you will notice one advertisement for Pan Am. Although the airline has been defunct for many years, one of oversized, animated billboards depicts an advertisement for Pan American Airways. An almost identical visual was used in one of the first films to include the singularity as the main theme, ‘Blade Runner.' The use of Pan Am in that movie was an homage to one the most iconic and trailblazing science fiction films in the history of cinema, ‘2001: a Space Odyssey’. While always busy depicting a barrage of images the background never overpowers the narrative.

This movie was a cooperative effort by American and Japanese film studios and talent. The screenwriter, Jamie Moss, is also starting out in his chosen means of artistic expression. His previous screenplay was back in 2008 for a well-casted crime thriller, ‘Street Kings.' Although the script is superficially simplistic, it does offer an ideal showcase for the deeply philosophical implications of the psychological and emotional effect such a separation of the brain from its normal organic surroundings into some entirely manufactured and artificial surroundings would have the sense of self-identification. This motif was lightly touched upon in the original ‘Robo Cop’ trilogy. But forms the foundation and very essence of the story including how these concerns affect the way the audience relates to the characters and their ability to relate, this is an underrated film that warrants a broader acceptance that it has received so far, one final note on the design. If you are going to create a shell making it look like the body of Ms. Johansson is certain to capture the attention of prospective customers and investors. I feel the lower than deserved rating is given online are from fans of the manga source material upset with the alterations necessitated by the change of medium. This is an inherently fundamental story crucial to introducing a new technological wonder as the latest two edge sword of progress. It deserves reinterpretation necessary to recognize it as a fundamental aspect of humanities continuing development.

Posted 07/14/2017

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