timscience: (Candroid)
[personal profile] timscience
So where can I write my important feels about Ghost in the Shell then? There will be spoilerz so FB is not appropriate. So clearly LJ is the ideal place! But LJ is now fully compliant with Putin's anti-LGBT agenda Russian Law, so DreamWidth it is. Aparently LJ-cuts work on DW so let's see.

By and large I liked it but it is not unproblematic.

First, the whitewashing issue. Yes, I know she's an android and that the original writer said it was OK since androids have no race. Allegedly. However I still feel a little uneasy about a plot in which a Japanese teenager is LITERALLY OVERWRITTEN by a white woman's body. Yes, I get that you have turned a bug into a feature and at the end she gets her identity back, but still.

Second, the plot changes. The Grauniad nailed it when they said it had lost something. What was a transcendent story about the singularity which seemed wonderful and strange because the singularity was not yet a cultural commonplace has turned into a very standard trope of cyborg in search for human identity. Now the thing about the original was that the Major's original human identity did not matter, and she never really cared about it; GITS was a story about what we might become, not about what we used to be. That has been completely reversed.

Essentially, the plot of GITS has been replaced with the plot of Robocop.

Now the plot of Robocop was pretty good when it came out I admit. However it is now 2017 and we are probably ready for a story about the singularity (and we'd better be since it's due in our lifetimes). See also: the replacement of an emergent AI by an abused teenager's revenge rampage (and by the way the wholly unbelievable plot twist where he is all good and has never killed any innocent people? What about the garbage truck guys? What about all the people wired into his network?).

Thirdly, the replacement of Section 6 as the bad guys by Evil MegaCorp (TM) (I have been informed that there is an actual games company called Evil MegaCorp. Of course there is). Again this turns a morally ambiguous tale of bureaucratic infighting into a rather less interesting Heroic Quest (TM).

This all makes it sound like a bust, so here are things I liked:

The visuals. I know that quite often if a film is generally awful but has half decent CGI "the visuals" are used as a get-out, but here they are genuinely great. Some lovely reconstructions of the original anime. A breathtaking underwater sequence on Tokyo Bay. The chase scene and fight with garbage truck guy. The spider tank. The cityscapes in general.

Beat Takeshi. Basically he steals every scene he ends up in. Don't send a rabbit to catch a fox indeed.

Scarlett Johanssen. In spite of all the above noone plays a nonhuman better. I just wish she'd been given a better version of the nonhuman to play.

Juliette Binoche. Again a standard trope character - the morally compromised scientist who in the end Does The Right Thing - but beautifully realised. J pointed out she is essentally the same character as the morally compromised scientist from Humans (AI wrangler with her substitute babies) and that therefore they are both Susan Calvin.

Batou. A pitch perfect performance of a more rounded character than we see in the original anime.

Not a bad film then, but definitely an opportunity missed.

May 2017

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