Ghost in the Shell: Rebooted Again

The 2017 Ghost in the Shell live action movie turned out to be a clunker. It feels flat, with a plodding script, and little suspense, though it does have a better second half than first half. Visually it is cluttered – practically littered with CGI – and with a conventional action movie score, it simply fails to capture the moody atmosphere of the original anime.

Really, none of Ghost in the Shell reboots, neither the subsequent animated films and series, nor this live version, compare to the original. With its stark, clean visual design, its savvy exposition, and its brilliant score, it stands out as one of the best thrillers ever produced. Not even the “version 2.0” remaster with updated animation is necessary.

But taken for what it is, the latest reboot is a passable sci-fi action flick. It does recreate some of the iconic scenes from the anime, which is fun to see. Its story modifies, but parallels, that of the original film, which is fine – the earlier reboots already played with the characters and plots. Like the original, it explores themes of identity, and the classic sci-fi trope of defining humanity in a machine age.

As for the generational angle, there is a meaningful difference in what the Major (that’s the main character – she’s a law enforcement officer) finds in her quest for identity. The 1995 Generation X Major discovers freedom and possibility, whereas the 2017 Millennial Major discovers belonging and purpose. The final scenes in the two films tell it all.

Year: 1995
Writer (original manga): Shirow Masamune (Generation-X peer, born 1961)
Director: Mamoru Oshii (Boomer Generation peer, born 1951)
Starring: Atsuko Tanaka (Generation-X peer, born 1962)
Year: 2017
Director: Rupert Sanders (Generation-X peer, born 1971)
Starring: Scarlett Johansson (Millennial Generation, born 1984)

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