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Ghost in the Shell 2017 poster

We saw this last night; as warm-up, I'd watched the 1995 anime the previous evening and may watch it again for further comparison.
 

GitS2017 is *not*, despite what might seem from the trailer, a straight remake. It does include several iconic scenes from GitS1995 recreated in live action with astonishing fidelity and detail, but embeds them in a quite different plot (which I understand to take elements from other parts of the GitS franchise, such as Stand Alone Complex, which I've not seen.) That plot - and I'm trying to avoid spoilers here - is one that many genre fans will recognise and be familiar with, although it does get taken in some interesting directions.

Scarlett Johansson's casting is of course controversial. To an extent the cross-racial casting turns out to form part of the plot, although whether that justifies it is another question. Johannson's performance is generally good; if it is at times flat and alienated, she is meant to be a character very alienated from humanity as a whole. Of the other cast, Takashi Kitano stands out as Aramaki, who perhaps translates best from GitS1995. For me, the disappointment was Batou; Pilou Asbæk does his best, but it's hard for anyone to convey the odd combination of physicality, gravitas and quirkiness of the anime version. (I commented to Siân that the only actor who really came to mind who might do full justice to the role would be a somewhat younger Ron Perlman.) Juliette Binoche puts in a good performance as the cybersurgeon who helped rebuild the Major, but again genre fans might find her role seeming familiar, as it is rather reminiscent of Sinéad Cusack's in V for Vendetta

Visually, GitS2017 is amazing, and will join Blade Runner and The Fifth Element - both of which it echoes - as a striking vision of future cities. GitS1995 fans will either enjoy spotting the references and recreations from the earlier anime, or will be driven to distraction by them. 

Overall: worth seeing, but you should avoid having either unduly high or unduly low expectations.

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Simon Bradshaw

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