Considered the pinnacle of anime Ghost in the Shell, alongside Akira, has been a key work Hollywood has tried to adapt for years. Numerous directors have come and gone, most struggling to adapt something with a very distinct style and obtuse story, a key barrier to most anime being converted to live action. Not to mention the fact that Shell has influenced a lot of key films, notably The Matrix. Now though director Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) has managed to finally get one made. (We also have Robert Rodriguez’s Battle Angel: Alita on the horizon)
Meeting with controversy from the off when Scarlett Johannson was cast as the lead, Major. An Asian woman in the original manga book, it has once again seen Hollywood charged with accusations of whitewashing. The rest of the cast is primarily authentic save Johansson and I can see the issue with casting her. However for a somewhat risky property, it’s popular in circles but less so with the mainstream, I understand the studio’s intention in having a well known lead to help draw punters in, not to mention the larger scale budget that needs to be paid for. At the end of the day, cultural and racial issues aside, filmmaking is a business and money needs to be made.
If the studio is using Johansson as risk management then they better fire whoever chose to make these brief teasers part of the first marketing push. Released during the ad breaks for Mr Robot last night, hence the brevity of them, they offer very brief glimpses at the style on show. Low lighting and some offbeat unusual images all add up to an effectively beguiling nature to the teases, but as a means of hooking newbies in they’re awful. Fragmented, bewildering and with no shred of context they just don’t work. In rare cases a succession of intriguing clips with little meaning can build interest but there should always be a hook, one amazing image or the prospect of talent involved. Save Johansson I have very little excitement based on these early glimpses.
These are only brief snippets so things may change come the release of a full trailer but for now it’s one of 2017s least exciting prospects.
Ghost in the Shell opens March 2017.